Facebook Change of Policy: Why You Should Care

Basically, they are saying:

“What’s yours is mine and what’s mine is mine.”

Now it’s no secret TOS (Terms of Service) concerns didn’t start with Facebook. Facebook also isn’t the only site telling users: “Hey, we own your content.” My problem is with the licensing and sub-licensing and what they can do with content we put on their site. But the worst part is, Facebook makes sharing everything SO easy.

So why is this relevant to you? Picture this:

  • A video that you uploaded of your baby eating was so cute, it became super popular in the say – Mommy Application you installed. If Facebook catches wind of that, they can sell it to like say… Gerber to turn into a commercial/ad. Who gets paid? FACEBOOK.
  • You write poetry and upload to your Facebook notes and blog. You write more poetry and upload to Facebook notes and blog. Your poetry becomes popular and published. So who really owns the rights to the book?
  • That one picture of your dog is so damn cute, people are sharing it with everyone else. Facebook finds out about it and decides to sell the image to saaay – Alpo. That commercial becomes super popular. Who gets paid? FACEBOOK.

See the pattern?
If you think things don’t spread, you are wrong. Take the 25 Things, for example. People were complaining about how stupid it was, but fact remains, it spread. Even TIME Magazine wrote an article about it. No one can predict what will spread.

I am not trying to make you paranoid nor am I trying to start a TOS revolution. All I’m saying is remember the next time you upload or import something to share, Facebook WILL own it and you have given them the right to redistribute – and profit.

Further discussions on my Facebook here and on FriendFeed here and Mike has a great example of why we need to be aware in: “Facebook Lays an Egg
Edit: Mark Zuckerberg’s response here. And usual, Duncan Riley of the Inquisitr says it best: “Word of advice: get your blog content off Facebook ASAP .

Edit 2/18 Facebook Reverts TOS

34 thoughts on “Facebook Change of Policy: Why You Should Care

  1. Mona, I love this explanation, and it certainly nails on the head why I am personally creeped out by this TOS change (and oddly, I am much more creeped out than my fellow Uptown Uncorked-er. Got to love differing viewpoints)

    Leslie Poston
    Twitter @geechee_girl

  2. My thoughts have always been this, when posting my amateur photos to Flickr:

    I don’t mind if you want to use my photos. I’m not a professional (although I guess I could be one day, who knows, never say never!). It would be nice if you told me, and give me a little credit. Flickr says you’re supposed to link back to the original image, and everyone does do that don’t they? Yeah right. Myself, I always ask if I can use a image I find there suitable for what I want to write about on a blog. I just think it’s the decent thing to do.

    However, if you use my photos, and you want to make money from them, how about giving me a cut? After all I took the darn thing!

    As far as Facebook goes, I don’t post much of any worthiness on there, as I’d put images on Flickr, and other stuff I’ll host myself.

    Thing is, if I host something myself, it doesn’t stop anyone taking it and using it.

    At the end of the day, I probably can’t afford to ‘see them in court’ either.

    I don’t pretend to know what the solution is, except to say, don’t post anything anywhere, and of course that’s just being paranoiac or silly or both, and doesn’t address the solution that we do want to share our ‘stuff’ with friends, family, and the rest of the world.

  3. I wonder if you post an image that is already has been copywrited? If I, as an designer/illustrator, post something up there with my watermark, does FB now own it if I put it up there?

  4. Kcurrier – I believe if you own that image, you pass it onto Facebook. If it’s someone else’s, you can’t, since it’s not yours. But don’t quote me on that since I am not a laywer.

    Eyebee – I’m right with you on that too and Leslie, thanks for your words. Gonna look for that posting now.

    Thanks for your comments, you guys.

  5. Facebook doesn’t *own* your content if you upload it. They’re licensing it. You can still make money from it. And they can’t sue you for selling it because *you* own the copyright.

    The only big difference here is that when you leave Facebook, *they can still use your content.*

  6. @Kcurrier, Your images are automatically copyrighted whether you register them or not. That doesn’t really matter. Per the TOS, you are granting Facebook an umlimited license to use your photo or any other content as they wish forever with no restrictions.

  7. Is anyone tracking how many times Facebook has sold something to a 3rd party for something of value? Are they raking it in hand over fist? Are Facebook members losing out on millions unjustly?I just can’t get too upset about this…if someone wants my 1978 junior prom picture – please, dear god, take it!

  8. Also, one of my issues anywhere online are all the photos posted of ME at evnts and such without asking. Half the time I would say “lord that’s awful, please don’t post that” anyway if asked, but … if I don’t want it up, and I didn’t put it there, and my friends and family aren’t savvy enough to know this stuff… how does this new TOS help those of us who have trouble educating others?? Ack.

  9. this – the TOS – is a bad move on so many levels. Duncan said we should get our blog off of FB. Now I’m scared (well not really, but it sucks). I’m not very active on FB and just recently started to use the Networkedblogs app to promote my blogs a little and to find others. I wonder now if I should remove that stuff (the app) completely. And what happens when you share a new blog post (your own) using the FB sharing bookmarklet? It can’t be true that they “own” my preview picture and the abstract text, let alone the blog article, can it? Is there some lawyer around? If so this would make FB even more useless because it’s supposed to be about sharing stuff. sigh :-)

  10. Watermark all your images with your name and/or site URL. Do the same to videos..it is not difficult to do. Licensing the content to Facebook does not usurp copyright laws.
    I also upload all my images to my server prior to posting them on Facebook which gives me a leg to stand on for ultimate copyright claim.

  11. Rick,

    I don’t think watermarking will matter…here’s the TOS text that gives me pause:

    “… You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to (a) use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute (through multiple tiers), any User Content you (i) Post on…”

    This pretty much gives FB free reign over posted User Content with no apparent limitations.

  12. I do believe it’s time to hire some Chinese hackers to remove everyone’s personal information from facebook. No i am not saying I have the ability to do so, however i think that is the only way this will be resolved. I do not believe I ever saw a notice saying that I needed to re-affirm my license to Facebook to steal what I have physically created. This is the Socialist revolution of the web. All facebook cares about is openness, with openness who needs to own anything? It’s obvious that someone in facebook’s ranks has a Marxist mindset. It’s just like spreading the wealth, except the wealth is your personal belongings. I guess if I write a web contract with the world and make my own super-social network, I could say that I have been granted an irrevocable license to steal whatever the hell want from the users’ homes.

  13. You know, I just joined Facebook recently only as a convenience to some of my friends. Now I feel like un-joining. Thanks for the info. What I have done so far is to send messages to my Facebook friends via Facebook (which I particularly enjoyed), removed my blog feed, removed a bunch of photos and sent a rather blistering message to one of their apps (NetworkedBlogs). For now, I will stay and make trouble, but I can live without Facebook, and I just may, very soon.

  14. Some counterpoints:

    1. Your baby video and dog pic would NEVER have been noticed without the social network on Facebook. No one should imagine otherwise.

    2. As soon as it becomes apparent that Gerber and Alpo don’t care about actual mothers and pet owners, the public outcry against them will be Motrin-like.

    3. If you’re writing is so good that it’s publish-worthy, my guess is you’ll find an outlet outside Facebook (which only your friends can read).

    But, hey, that’s just me!

  15. Re: 5. .. “don’t quote me on that since I am not a laywer..” . Maybe, when you become a lawyer, you’ll be able to defend this absurd and ill-researched scaremongering. Meanwhile you’re just giving blogging a bad name.. Hey, love the enthusiasm, though..

  16. It makes no sense that Facebook would risk messing up a good thing by edging in on people’s intellectual property. They had people’s trust and then they go and risk losing it; not smart.

  17. Mona, I owe you an apology. I disagree with your take on this, but I was far too vehement in voicing my opinion in my previous comment. Of course you’re not giving blogging a bad name, nothing of the sort. One glass of wine too many on my part perhaps..

  18. I think Tiffany hit it on the head: we still own the rights to it. It isn’t completely stripped of us once we hit the “upload” button. It’s just that we agree that Facebook can use it, too. The only upper-hand for Facebook is that it has more lucrative opportunities to use it. I don’t know if I’d be too paranoid about it. There are thousands upon thousands of Facebook accounts – how could Facebook keep up with this flow of information? You’d really have to be a major spike in the popularity points for Facebook to take notice. But, this is just my opinion.
    Los Angeles DUI lawyer

  19. Watermarking is a great idea – after all, who would want to buy a picture or video with a watermark running through it? Certainly not an advertising company!

  20. I wonder if this article is really true, if it is then we might say that Facebook is planning something fishy. I am a Facebook user mainly because I keep in touch with my friends and relatives, nothing more. Ow I am also into photography and I’m uploading my photos as well, I just hope they don’t use it for bad purposes.

  21. Ouch, If this is true then it’s gonna be a one sided advantage. For me, I’m into photography, those photos of mine is very important to me because that is my right, they don’t have the right to own it.

  22. I rarely upload many photos of importance to Facebook; most cellphone snaps when I am out and about, or larking about. I would never use Facebook as a serious place to display my photographs as they resize and compress the crap out of them anyway.

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