Have you seen this message circulating around on Facebook recently?
Facebook has consistently been plagued by privacy and copyright concerns and this is not the first message of its kind to have gone viral in this way. However, just like those before it, this notice is a hoax and not something to be alarmed about. Although it claims to provide those who post it with greater control of material they post on Facebook, this message will do nothing of the sort.
These notices started proliferating online shortly after Facebook adjusted its privacy guidelines, to remove users’ voting rights on Facebook policies, instead just allowing users to comment on any changes.
The post also claims that Facebook’s new status as an ‘open capital entity’ should be an extra incentive for users to circulate the message. However, neither of these recent changes made any tangible difference to Facebook’s copyright and privacy policies, and even if they had, simply posting this message on your Facebook wall will do nothing in the way of protecting your copyright.
When you sign up to Facebook you agree to their terms and conditions, and unless you renegotiate them, or delete your account, you will still be bound by this agreement regardless of any messages you may post.
For those concerned about Facebook’s policy, you can find it here.
The main thing to remember, is that if you post any content covered by IP rights on Facebook, you grant it a ‘non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook’.
This basically means that you give Facebook the permission to use, and share with 3rd parties any IP content without the need for a license or to pay fees. Crucially, this license is subject to your Facebook privacy and application settings – so in fact, you are more in control of your content than you might realise. Beyond simply deciding not to share content through Facebook, you can finely tune your privacy settings to choose who can see the things you post
It is also important to appreciate that you don’t need a special notice to control copyright in your posts. The message itself references the ‘Berner Convention’, which is presumably meant to say Berne Convention, according to which the original creator of a work is automatically the copyright holder. So even if you grant Facebook the right to use things you post, these rights are by no means exclusive and will have no bearing on how you display or distribute it by your own means.
You can now hear it straight from the horse’s mouth, as Facebook have posted an official, concise response to the notice on their website here:
Copyright Meme Spreading on Facebook
There is a rumor circulating that Facebook is making a change related to ownership of users’ information or the content they post to the site. This is false. Anyone who uses Facebook owns and controls the content and information they post, as stated in our terms. They control how that content and information is shared. That is our policy, and it always has been.