Mike Isaac

Recent Posts by Mike Isaac

CSA of the Day: Posting Legal Jargon to Facebook Does Not Protect You From Facebook

A word of advice: When dabbling in legal matters, consult an actual lawyer.

I’m speaking of that jargon-filled status update that — if your friends are anything like mine — keeps popping up in users’ Facebook news feeds.

It’s a blanket disclaimer which essentially claims copyright on all things posted to Facebook, including items like photos — Facebook users’ stock-in-trade, these days — status updates, and works of art, and demands Facebook can only use that material after being given “written consent” by the user. Here’s a snippet:

In response to the new Facebook guidelines, I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details contained in my personal and business profiles, including, but not limited to: all postings, status updates, comments, illustrations, paintings, drawings, art, photographs, music, videos, etc. as per the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, (a/k/a the Berne Convention). For commercial use of any of the above, my written consent is required in each instance and at all times.

It’s most likely a response to Facebook’s recently announced changes to dealing with privacy policies on the site. Instead of putting any changes to a massive, billion-user, network-wide vote as is decorum, Facebook seeks to end the policy and start making those decisions in a different way.

There’s a problem here. By virtue of becoming a Facebook user, you’ve already signed over consent to let Facebook republish your work wherever it wants. And that includes alongside the myriad ads flanking the sides of your page.

You know that block of text you skipped reading upon signing up for your Facebook account? There are actually important details embedded therein. Namely that you’ve already granted Facebook a “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).”

Don’t fret. You still retain copyright on anything you post to Facebook. Just not the right to ban it from the licenses you’ve already agreed to. It didn’t work the last time these status updates were circulating, and it won’t work now.

So do us all a favor and, next time, Snopes that bogus rumor first. I’m tired of seeing the same thing in my feed.


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