Have you seen the latest Facebook status that is making its way onto news feeds everywhere? This one assures users that the user will retain copyright in all his or her content that is posted on the site simply by posting the following:
In response to the new Facebook guidelines I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, graphics, comics, paintings, photos and videos, etc. (as a result of the Berner Convention). For commercial use of the above my written consent is needed at all times!
(Anyone reading this can copy this text and paste it on their Facebook Wall. This will place them under protection of copyright laws. By the present communiqué, I notify Facebook that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, disseminate, or take any other action against me on the basis of this profile and/or its contents. The aforementioned prohibited actions also apply to employees, students, agents and/or any staff under Facebook’s direction or control. The content of this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of my privacy is punished by law (UCC 1 1-308-308 1-103 and the Rome Statute).
Facebook is now an open capital entity. All members are recommended to publish a notice like this, or if you prefer, you may copy and paste this version. If you do not publish a statement at least once, you will be tacitly allowing the use of elements such as your photos as well as the information contained in your profile status updates.
Great! So post it, right? Not so fast. Actually, users already do retain copyrights in whatever original content they have posted; remember that under American law,
copyright attaches automatically to “original works of authorship that are fixed in a tangible form.”
What Facebook’s Terms of Service do, however, is give Facebook the right to use such content subject to certain restrictions:
For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.
And if you’re using Facebook, unless you’ve personally worked out some kind of agreement with the company, you’ve agreed to these Terms of Service; there is no legal weight to a user simply posting the above-mentioned status that would affect such Terms.
Of course, if you are concerned with Facebook’s privacy and other types of regulations, you should be sure to check out the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and Data Use Policy before signing up. If you’re already using Facebook, you can make sure you don’t post anything that you wouldn’t want Facebook to use or delete it (and make sure anyone who has shared it has also deleted it).
Facebook copyright and privacy concerns have long been a contentious subject; indeed, every time Facebook touches one of its policies, you can bet that a notice similar to the one posted above will begin floating around Facebook thereafter. But the next time you see one of these kinds of statuses all over your news feed, please do your Facebook friends a favor and check it out before posting.
And if you’re one of the people spreading these things, please proofread. The “Berner Convention” may have happened on some fiery stovetop somewhere, but the Berne Convention deals with the protection of literary and artistic works.