Viral Post Won’t Protect Copyright in US… Although Maybe in EU 2

If you use Facebook, I’m sure you have seen the viral post proclaiming copyright in posted content. While the proclamation sounds rather official…. it doesn’t actually mean anything (if you are in the US)… nor does it preserve any of your rights (including copyright) that are modified, abdicated,or terminated by the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy of the Facebook website. What this means is that by using the Facebook website the conditions listed in the Terms of Service (which speak to broad control and use of posted content by Facebook for virtual eternity) are consented to.

The Viral Post (or a modified version of it):

I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, comics, professional photos and videos, etc. 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).

In response to the viral post, Facebook has a statement on their website dispelling the rumor and directing folks to its Terms of Service which state (but are subject to change):

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.

How did the viral post get started? One explanation is youthful optimism. Another possibility (and very interesting possibility) is that the post was started in the EU where organized challenges to Facebook’s Privacy Policy and Terms are Services are being made for non-conformance with EU laws. The EU has different policies (from the US) regarding the use of data including photo archives and EU laws may require different consent mechanisms. (Since Facebook is a US company, it is likely that their Privacy Policy and Terms of Service are written in American legalese). While surfing through the website for Europe-v-Facebook.org (which is a group in the EU that is challenging Facebook’s Privacy Policy and has threatened litigation for non-compliance with EU law) I read this: “We were just informed that Facebook is soon proposing a new change to its privacy policy…. Facebook said so far that if 7,000 users demand the same changes they would have users give the chance to vote on them.” If this is true… it could be interesting… it could have started the viral post or one like it… and it could possibly change Facebook’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Service in the EU… and maybe other places too.

See also, http://europe-v-facebook.org/EN/en.html; http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57554497-93/viral-post-wont-copyright-your-facebook-updates/; http://www.facebook.com/legal/terms; http://newsroom.fb.com/Fact-Check; NY Times article: Law Students in Austria Challenge Facebook Policy on 12/5/12 and www.kasterlegal.com

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

vk@kasterlegal.com

2 comments

    • Thanks for your message and thanks for reading. It’s great to hear that you find my postings useful… I hope your buddies will too. If you haven’t already, I invite you to sign up to receive an email alert about new postings.

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