Did you travel to Europe this winter to enjoy a little more summer? Maybe you got yourself a nice tan? But how to prove it? You posted it onto your Facebook page along with the caption, ‘living the good life’.
We hope you weren’t attached to that photo, because your rights to it have diminished with the click of a button.
You hear of horror stories online where a person has posted a photo to their social media account, whether it be funny or sad, and days later it appears as the banner for an online Facebook or Twitter campaign.
For those of us who have taken the time to sit down and read the 14,000 word terms of service that Facebook provides when we create an account, it becomes clear that we are not just uploading photos and posts for ourselves. We are not fully in control of our online actions.
What you have done is sign up for something you probably never intended, and your click of agreement to those terms and conditions is part of the legally binding contract you have now entered into with Facebook.
Facebook’s Terms read as follows in relation to your content:
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.
This paragraph spells both good news and bad news. It means that Facebook has a license to use your work, like photos or posts, but it doesn’t own your photos. Under Copyright Law, the image generally belongs to the creator unless the contracts stipulates otherwise. Originally, being the creator, you have rights as to displaying, producing, distributing and perhaps even earning royalties from your work.
These rights are diminished once you choose to post it on the web.
Facebook, most likely aware that the majority of its users will not read the terms and conditions, understands that your willingness to post and share your personal details, grants them a right to use these in whichever way they see fit.
The take home message? Be careful with what you share online! Whilst Facebook and its brothers and sisters, Twitter and Instagram, do not own your work, there are loopholes in the contracts you sign to ensure that your personal details do not remain within your control.
If you believe you have been wronged online or simply wish to know more about online safety and copyright laws, do not hesitate to contact our offices on 02 8917 8700.