Facebook Copyright Protection Hoax

Facebook pagesIt never fails, about every six months or so the Facebook community launches into a frenzy over “Copyright Protection.” I’m sure you’ve seen it: the warning of impending doom if you don’t copy and paste the privacy declaration into your News Feed or Page. We writer types take copyright protection pretty seriously. But, does that mean that posting a few words on Facebook gives you any power at all?

With all the scam and fee download sites available, where our books inevitably end up listed, it’s no wonder you might be a little paranoid. Couple that with an unknown industry (tech privacy); we tend to do things “just in case.” I get it — you want Facebook to have respect for your privacy and material. After all, many of us make a living off our words.

Not to worry, it’s a HOAX.

Facebooks terms and conditions already cover your behind. You can find the language on Facebook, just follow this link … https://www.facebook.com/legal/terms. Here’s the down and dirty: Nothing that you say in your News Feed, Page, Posts or Profile can override whatever you already agreed to in Facebook’s terms of service.

Before you ever used Facebook, you “accepted” the legal terms, which include things like privacy settings and terms of service. You can find that info here. You can cite the Uniform Commercial Code, reference the Berne Convention, or post unicorns on your page till you’re blue in the face and it won’t do squat to change what’s agreed to in the Facebook policies.

So why do millions of Facebook users follow like lemmings and post these parcels of worthless legalese? Because we don’t trust Facebook. We don’t trust them with our information, our pictures or our words. Meanwhile, we continue to hunt and peck our way through the social media giant without a real grasp on what it all means. Throw in a dose of ever-changing privacy settings and confusion abounds. Just as you get all your pretty little settings just right … BAM … Facebook changes everything again.

So what can you do? Hmmm. Don’t sign up for Facebook. Or you can hire millions of dollars worth of legal help to bilaterally negotiate a modified policy with Facebook. Not going to do that? Okay, if you have suggestions, you can always go to the Facebook Site Governance and propose changes directly to Facebook.

Do you want to cancel your Facebook account? That would solve the problem, wouldn’t it? Not quite. Certain rights can’t be “reclaimed” even after you cancel your account. The past is the past. You can delete your images and account, but if something has been shared, Facebook specifically states that the information, pictures and Intellectual Property can still exist even after you’ve left Facebook.

As a side note, some of the copyright posts claim that Facebook is going to start charging you to keep your profile private. Not true. Not going to happen.

So, post away knowing that you own all of the content and information you post on Facebook, and you can control how it is shared through your privacy and application settings.

Author: Jim Devitt

Jim Devitt’s debut YA novel, The Card, hit #1 in three separate categories on the Kindle Bestseller list in early January and was a finalist in the Guys Can Read Indie Author Contest this past summer. Devitt currently lives in Miami, FL with his wife Melissa and their children. Learn more about Jim at his blog and his Amazon author page.

9 thoughts on “Facebook Copyright Protection Hoax”

  1. As always Jim, you get to the heart of it all. I have experienced the “sky is falling” bit on Facebook, and thought it weird from the get go. Thanks for providing the information I didn’t have, what a world eh?

  2. So what *precisely* does Facebook acquire in terms of rights? As of this posting, the relevant clause is this:

    “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.”

    Which means that anything IP-related (words, photos, drawings, images, video, etc.) that you upload to Facebook grants them certain rights. Those rights are non-exclusive (so you can still upload that stuff elsewhere). Those rights ARE transferable (so they can sell their rights to a third party). Those rights ARE sub-licensable (so they can license them to a third party). Those rights are royalty free (so if they make money from them, or from selling the rights or licensing the rights, they owe you nothing). And the rights are worldwide.

    Yes, if you post your entire book to Facebook scene by scene, they can compile the work, upload it to Amazon, and sell it there.

    Yes, if you upload your book cover to Facebook and it becomes the next Fifty Shades, they can license the cover art to t-shirt makers, make millions from selling t-shirts with your cover art, and never pay you a dime.

    (We recently saw this with Flickr selling art people had uploaded under a Creative Commons license as expensive canvas wall art.)

    Oh, and as Jim said above, nothing you post to your wall is going to matter in even the smallest amount. People posting that “I deny Facebook the right to use blahblahblah” stuff just look poorly educated. It’s embarrassing.

    What DOES help is public opinion. For example, in the above case (Flickr), public opinion got in an uproar over the sales. Flickr publicly apologized and ceased all sales, refunding all customers who had tried to buy CC wall art.

    The internet is very big. Nobody wants the whole internet to land on their head, not Yahoo (who owns Flickr). Not even Facebook.

    So relax a little. It’s not as bad as it sounds. 😉

  3. This was my response to the hoax. I posted this on my page and as a comment on the post of friends who fell for the hoax.

    I don’t know if it’s true or not but better safe than sorry….. so I just post whatever looks legit and fits my ideas and philosophy…

    I HEREBY GIVE MY PERMISSION to the Police, the NSA, the FBI and CIA, the Swiss Guard, the Priory of Scion, the inhabitants of Middle Earth, Agents Mulder and Scully, the Goonies, ALL the Storm Troopers and Darth Vader, the Mad Hatter, Chuck Norris, S.H.I.E.L.D, The Avengers, The Illuminati, The Men in Black, X-Men, Ghost Busters, The Justice League, Gandalf and Dumbledore, Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny, The Great Pumpkin, The Flying Spaghetti Monster, The Tooth Fairy, The Krampus, and all the members of the Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Black Sabbath, Voltron, The Groovy Ghoulies, the Thunder Cats, Dr. Who, Hart to Hart, Mystery inc. (Scooby Doo), James Garner, Angela Landsbury, the WWF, the EPA, and even Magnum P.I., He-Man, Jay and Silent Bob, Cheech & Chong, Neo, Blade, and the Boondock Saints to view all the amazing and interesting things I publish on Facebook.
    I’m aware that my privacy ended the very day that I created a profile on Facebook, I know that whatever I post can (and usually does) get shared, tagged, copied, and posted elsewhere because I’m THAT fascinating. If I don’t want anyone else to have it, then I don’t post it!

    1. Richard, you beat me to it. I also posted this on my FB account, although I customized my list a bit. Just had to add in Dr. Evil! How could anyone leave him off that list? 😉

  4. Oh, thank God! You came along just in time, Jim. I was about to auction off my model car collection and give away my cache of books. I mean, if you can’t trust Facebook, what good is life on Earth? 🙂

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