Users warned on FB copyright terms
29 February 2012, 08:30
Cape Town - Users of social networks should be aware of how the terms
and conditions of the platforms treat intellectual property, an industry
insider has said.
Facebook has more than 850 million users
around the world and they use the cloud platform to store everything
from family photographs to typed documents.
"We put all our
lovely photographs - and maybe if we're a professional photographer - we
put some really good pictures into Facebook. If you read the fine
print, it is owned by Facebook," Malcolm Rabson, Managing Director of
Dariel Solutions told News24.
In Facebook's terms of service
document, the company says that it shares users' intellectual property
rights to content on the network.
"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 licence to use any IP content
that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP Licence)," says
The document adds
that these rights lapse when an account is disabled, but given that even
disabled accounts can be reactivated months after a user deletes them,
it is unclear how long Facebook will keep user information.
who, for example, write the manuscript for a book on Facebook, may find
that the company demands a slice of the royalties if the book is a
"Should it become a world seller, they are entitled to sue you for copyright infringement," Rabson said.
Users don't realise that Facebook is a public platform, regardless of privacy settings, an expert said.
they say on a social media platform, they must be prepared and able to
say with a megaphone to a crowd because that is essentially what you're
doing," social media consultant for Afrosocialmedia Samantha Fleming
She said that the social media giant's privacy settings did not mean that content not intended for public view would remain so.
Facebook has drawn back a bit in the last couple of years, but the
reality is that what you put out there can be seen by anybody," Fleming
Recently, a US photographer was
ordered to post an apology to his ex-wife on his Facebook page after he
was found guilty of contravening a protection order.
posted a note that implied his ex-wife was out to ruin his life and
though she was blocked from viewing his Facebook wall, she learnt of the
South African socialite Khanyi Mbau has been mired in
controversy since nude pictures of her were leaked online, reminiscent
of the scandal involving New York congressman Anthony Weiner who tweeted
a sexually suggestive picture of himself.
Rabson said that
Facebook could justify its ownership share of intellectual property
because it provides a free service to consumers.
'We are giving you a service; we are giving you unlimited disk space to
keep your photographs and anything like that,' and really, the reason
you're putting it there is not for commercial gain."
not been recorded incidents of Facebook suing over a user's intellectual
property, but as people increasingly use Facebook and other platforms
to store documents, especially to collaborate with colleagues, it
becomes more important that users are aware of laws relating to
"There are a lot of copyright laws around these things that people are not aware of," said Rabson.
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