FACEBOOK COPYRIGHT AND USER (DIS)CONTENT. KNOW YOUR RISKS.

Update DEC 05 2008 I’ve made my peace with Facebook and reactivated my group account. I’ve also created a JAN SHIM PHOTOGRAPHY page as a means to keep contacts updated via the FB network.

Update NOV 25 2008 FACEBOOK WIN $873 MILLION IN DAMAGES

FACEBOOK HITS 10 BILLION PHOTOScompared to nearest rivals Photobucket at 6.2 billion and Flickr at 2 billion. According to this article, “Facebook stores four image sizes for each uploaded photo, so that’s over 40 billion files stored altogether.” WOW! :O Undeniably, Facebook is today the most successful social utility portal and with that many photos stored in their domain, has it occurred to you that your images may be at risk of being used unethically and illegally?

I wonder how many bothered to read the Facebook | Terms of Use when they sign up. Like the millions to billions of users who registered before me, my fascination with FB was no different. I discovered a cool feature called Mirror Blog and in no time, I had my blog content “mirrored” thinking rather naively that being associated with FB’s huge traffic can do no wrong. Until I came across its Terms of Use

User Content Posted on the Site

When you post User Content to the Site, you authorize and direct us to make such copies thereof as we deem necessary in order to facilitate the posting and storage of the User Content on the Site. By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose, commercial, advertising, or otherwise, on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing. You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content. Facebook does not assert any ownership over your User Content; rather, as between us and you, subject to the rights granted to us in these Terms, you retain full ownership of all of your User Content and any intellectual property rights or other proprietary rights associated with your User Content.
Terms of Use | Sept 23, 2008

The last portion of the clause is a joke, “Facebook does not assert any ownership over your User Content” They do not need to, you have already granted them the “right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose, commercial, advertising, or otherwise” and have profited from your blindsided generousity!

For those of you on FB who added me just before I pulled the plug and those whose private messages I hadn’t responded—my apologies—the account has been deactivated. For now I see no real benefit to have it reactivated and if and when I do have a change of heart, it’ll likely be sterile! With multiple copies of my “mirrored” content in their archives, I may have to take the extra step to have it permanently deleted.

Concerns have also been raised regarding the difficulty of deleting user accounts. Previously, Facebook only allowed users to “deactivate” their accounts so that their profile was no longer visible. However, any information the user had entered into the website and on their profile remained on the website’s servers. This outraged many users who wished to remove their accounts permanently, citing reasons such as the inability to erase “embarrassing or overly-personal online profiles from their student days as they entered the job market, for fear employers would locate the profiles”. Facebook changed its account deletion policies on February 29, 2008, allowing users to contact the website to request that their accounts be permanently deleted.
Wikipedia


© FACEBOOK.com

Now, is it me or do the above “network nodes” look like baby bottle silicone nipples to you too? Has Facebook suckered the world into letting one’s guard down? For their  help to “connect and share with the people in your life” you inadvertently relinquish your rights and give up your privacy. That sounds fair! F A C E B O O K might as well stand for FREE ACCESS COPYRIGHTED E-BOOK!

Granted, other social sites have similar Terms of Use that does not favour professional photographers or anyone who values their work. Facebook’s immense popularity have sparked dozens of discussions about their controversial handling of USER CONTENT. Here is a list of sites appearing in no particular order of preference although I lean towards sites that are relevant to the business of photography such as LightStalkers and British Journal of Photography. Also of interest is that officials at Oxford Universityare using Facebook to find and fine troublemakers!

11 thoughts on “FACEBOOK COPYRIGHT AND USER (DIS)CONTENT. KNOW YOUR RISKS.

  1. Although i am not logged in to FB, your article now has woke me up and reminded me to be extra vigilant in signing up for internet sites, credit card forms, insurance and any other documents. Terminologies like these are always created to confuse and complicate the end customer (like us all) and part our precious info. Though we may not have the patience to go through the disclaimers, alot of times we are tempted with the excitement to join and log in to see what the site has to offer.

    Once again, thanks for the wake up call to everyone Jan.

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  2. from a university undergraduate student point of view, it is quite essential to use facebook – especially when quite a number of announcements and information goes through facebook. I am, however, not a big fan of facebook mainly because there is too much information in there that I can handle. It has been popular to use facebook as a ‘stalking’ system to check people out as well, another reason why i’m trying to distant myself from it.

    I agree that the terms does not favour professional photographers like you. but for amateurs like me who are getting constant requests to put people’s pictures on facebook (so that they can get themselves tagged), I sometimes give in to their requests since i think the photos mean more to them than its value to me anyway.

    there are many issues concerning the use of facebook, but i suppose a lot of people are just ‘sucked’ into the system..

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  3. This is the key term, ” on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof,” – hence they can only use the images to promote themselves… and this, “you retain full ownership of all of your User Content and any intellectual property rights or other proprietary rights associated with your User Content.” – hence you may at anytime revoke their rights to use the content. The whole agreement is worded to protect themselves from people who post and try to sue them for using their pics to market themselves.

    Dont put high value or high res pics there.. and if you do, watermark them with a © indicating it as a copyrighted image (if you do not want them to use it). Since contractually, your agreement is made at the time of registration and technically a new agreement for each submission. I dont think they would dare to use one with a © watermark on it.

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  4. The entire clause seems contradictory. They make it clear (at least it appears to be) that as long you upload materials that were created by you, you are the rightful owner and hence you “retain full ownership of all of your User Content …” The catch is right in the beginning and it’s a frightening one too where

    By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat …

    You’re of course right to suggest putting a © symbol in pictures that you want to police. It’s an effective deterrent as much as it sometimes effectively ruins a nice picture (you know how some people go overboard with a huge © symbol right in the middle! :)

    Let’s make this clear, the purpose of this post is not to tell people to stop using Facebook. It’s simply to highlight the risks. With 110 million users on Facebook today, having 10% of people deactivate their account aren’t going to make a difference. As per Jin Yang’s justification, “from a university undergraduate student point of view, it is quite essential to use facebook – especially when quite a number of announcements and information goes through facebook,” Facebook makes a lot of sense even though its service isn’t unique—it’s just simply cool to use it.

    I thought I would include some of the interesting and entertaining thread that I picked up from LightStalkers.org

    You are a club owner, wanting to fill your space with drinks-buying patrons. There is no cover charge, so your revenue will come from the bar — the more people you have on the dance floor, the better. In order to draw big crowds, you have to fill the place with attractive women, so you hire a promoter to bring in models, actors, and dancers who do this sort of thing.

    At no point do you, the club owner, have any proprietary claim on the “content”, the women who are drawing your crowds. You also have no liability on them, either. You pay the promoter, who pays the women, who show up and add to the atmosphere. The women don’t show up for free, just because it’s a cool place. They rightly expect to be paid. You make your money from the bar.
    — Michael Bowring

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  5. Agreed what Jin Yang and David some statement.
    Especially this one:

    I agree that the terms does not favour professional photographers like you. but for amateurs like me who are getting constant requests to put people’s pictures on facebook (so that they can get themselves tagged), I sometimes give in to their requests since i think the photos mean more to them than its value to me anyway.

    I will still using FB, it still have pro and con anyway.

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  6. I will still using FB, it still have pro and con anyway.

    Precisely why the FB phenomenon is overwhelming until the next great social utility comes along and take its place. You’re right—anything that’s good can also be bad and too much of anything is certainly bad. They say moderation is the key to keeping things balanced but where do you draw the line between how much is enough. Facebook, like online games, is addictive without a doubt. Similarly although not in the same league, people still drink shark fin soup knowing about its unethical killings and its high levels of mercury and also large consumption of raw salmon in Japanese cuisine (my personal favourite—guilty as charged!).

    Taking one step back, let’s look at what’s really at stake beyond this blog post. Personally, I do no think that there’s any danger of FB taking advantage of people’s photos as much as the risks of an irresponsible user violating the rights of pictures that do not belong to them. There are people who actually believe it’s OK to blatantly make duplicates of copyrighted DVDs and ‘cut and paste’ photos for commercial purposes!

    The subject of privacy should be something people take seriously. The real risks are the amount of personal information that users has knowingly and at the same time ignorantly and legally allowed Facebook to publish and shared with their partners. I setup Google Alerts to keep an eye on all sites that makes reference to your blog or name. This is a great way to track possible abuses.

    I have always been wary of FB and have never registered although I keep getting requests from “friends” who want to be linked. FB is not the only culprit, most companies have License Agreements that we just don’t have the time to read through, let alone understand the legal jargon and we end up just clicking “I Agree”. Sign of the times. — DW

    Take a cue from the Oxford University link and just remember and assume that whatever you’ve posted, someone’s reading (hopefully without malice). I applaud FB’s success as an effective networking tool and marketing medium but at the expense of something I’m not willing to give up. I also came across this post Facebook Public Profiles Actually To Become Public?

    Forget photography copyright now, think about the potential risks you’ve put yourself in by being so public. And people, I am not anti-Facebook—Facebook has not harmed anyone—people have harmed themselves!

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  7. THE PLOT (ON PRIVACY) THICKENS

    I do not habitually read news online much less actual newspapers. I haven’t forgotten that information is power and I’ve been for the past few years been minding my own business. Today, that’s all changed—people’s business is my business!

    So what better site to visit for a daily dose of ASIAN-oriented news than ASIAONE.com. Immediately two stories relevant to education and privacy discussions here caught my eye:

    TEACHER RESIGNS IN FAVOUR OF BLOGGING FREEDOM

    TEACHER CANNOT DO AS THEY WISH

    WHEN A TEACHER PARTS MORE THAN KNOWLEDGE

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  8. Now, for a change, I actually applaud Facebook for doing the right thing:

    FACEBOOK WIN $873 MILLION IN DAMAGES

    There is spam in the world everywhere you look, whether it be in newspapers in the form of adverts or in your inbox as emails offering enhancements to your body or cheap priced software. But the last place you should expect spam is in your Facebook inbox.

    It seems that Facebook didn’t like their users getting bombarded with stupid messages either, and they took the issue to court. On Friday, the courts ruled and now the offending spammers, Adam Guerbuez and Atlantis Blue Capital, must pay Facebook a total of $873 million. This breaks the previous record, $234 million, that MySpace received in a similar spamming case.

    Most spamming companies turn a big profit each year, but nowhere near as much as they have been ordered to pay Facebook, so the chances of Facebook ever seeing their money is pretty slim. In addition, no one in the company will face jail time meaning the verdict is really more of a warning to other potential spammers, of what could happen if they try it.

    The company was charged under a law called CAN-SPAM Act which was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2003.

    Source: Neowin.net

    Though, having read that article more than once, I cannot understand American politics sometimes, well OK, most times. What good is serving a warning without real punishment. This only goes to show that spamming isn’t criminal enough to be charged and prosecuted.

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  9. Pingback: We have the right to remain silent… Or do we? Please check the EULA « TheWheat Field

  10. Souce: Creepy as hell: Facebook developers get to know you better

    Home addresses and mobile numbers up for grabs

    Facebook has added APIs for developers to access the home address and mobile numbers of users, so FarmVille can see where, as well as who, you are. Permission to access such data must be given through the usual notification system, but with the vast majority of users simply agreeing with everything they’re asked, the new facility is attracting privacy concerns beyond those incurred by sharing one’s details with the developers of Bejeweled Blitz or similar.

    Like

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