If you belong to Facebook, you likely saw the fake copyright notice that has been circulating on the social media network. The notice purports to restrict the use of user content, including pictures and posts, under U.S. copyright laws. It encourages others to post the notice on their own Facebook pages in order to protect their information.
Below is a brief portion of one the notices:
In response to the new Facebook guidelines, I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, graphics, comics, paintings, photos, and videos, etc. (as a result of the Berner Convention). For any and all commercial use of the above my written consent is needed at all times!
While the notice is full of legal inaccuracies that a copyright attorney would quickly spot, many Facebook users were duped. Facebook even posted a statement in the “Fact Check” section of its website confirming that the copyright notice is simply a hoax. It explained that Facebook had not changed its policies, stating: “There is a rumor circulating that Facebook is making a change related to ownership of users’ information or the content they post to the site. This is false.”
The bottom-line is that the post has no legal effect. Rather, Facebook and its users are bound by the company’s Terms of Service and Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, which clearly state that users own all of the content and information posted to the social media network.
As detailed in those documents, “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.”
The Facebook hoax provides further credence to the old adage, “Don’t trust everything you read online.” For accurate and detailed legal advice about protected your copyrighted content online, I encourage you to contact an experienced attorney.