I’ve aften heard the statement “Once you’ve put images on Facebook you’ve lost your copyright” and during this week,I was listening to a podcast by photographer Frederick Van Johnson (who runs the TWiP podcast). He talked about rights for your images on Facebook (FB) with another photographer Richard Harrington. Richard talked about ‘losing control’ of your images – and I think he has got a good point. Recently too, messages on many of my friends status claimed that posting images, meant you lost copyright of your image. And thus posted copyright statements, which of course was completely pointless. (text of one such message posted at the bottom of this article)
So it got me thinking and thought it’s time to clear the ‘Images on Facebook’ issue up with my friends.
Lets start off with this – the ‘Terms of Service’ from Facebook.
Sharing Your Content and Information
You own all of the content and information you post on Facebook, and you can control how it is shared through your privacy and application settings. In addition:
1. 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.
2. When you delete IP content, it is deleted in a manner similar to emptying the recycle bin on a computer. However, you understand that removed content may persist in backup copies for a reasonable period of time (but will not be available to others).
3. When you use an application, the application may ask for your permission to access your content and information as well as content and information that others have shared with you. We require applications to respect your privacy, and your agreement with that application will control how the application can use, store, and transfer that content and information. (To learn more about Platform, including how you can control what information other people may share with applications, read our Data Use Policy and Platform Page.)
4. When you publish content or information using the Public setting, it means that you are allowing everyone, including people off of Facebook, to access and use that information, and to associate it with you (i.e., your name and profile picture).
5. We always appreciate your feedback or other suggestions about Facebook, but you understand that we may use them without any obligation to compensate you for them (just as you have no obligation to offer them).
Lets break this statement down a little – with relation to images. What FB are saying is if you post images on FB, you are granting FB the use of that image for what ever they like, say for example a TV or magazine advert or for their own use depending on your privacy settings for as long as you have the image on FB. Also any application that you have running within FB can also use your images too. And whats more, FB will not pay you or don’t even have to credit you when they use your image. However, you still retain copyright, i.e. you can still use and sell the image if you wish to do so.
I’ll give you an example. I have on my personal FB page, groups of people. Family as one group, friends another, work colleagues a another. Each one has slightly different privacy settings attach to them. So when I post my holiday photos to my family group, my work colleagues don’t see them. I have privacy set up for only my family to view those photographs. However – if I post one of my urban or landscape images to FB and don’t set any privacy, i’m leaving it for anyone to see. That means that FB can use my image for what ever purpose they wish. But I can still use or even sell the image. I still retain copyright of my images.
How many post images direct from mobile devices? The problem here is that you’ve probably not set you privacy settings before sending the image from mobile to FB. The default with FB is ‘Everyone see’s everything’ Sharing turned on for all to see. And with a lot of things in FB, the default settings (in my opinion) are set to be best for FB not nessarly for the user. Think about this – if a company wanted to run an advert in Wired magazine, lets say, Austrialan Tourist Board for example. They might find an image, online, but with an image agency. The ATB might have to pay a few hundred, maybe even a couple of thousands to use a really nice landscape image of the Outback. Hell – the ATB might even commission a photographer to do the job. Therefore the photographer would get paid. If on the other hand, FB wanted to run an ad about how great FB is with sharing images with the world, and use one of yours. You, the person who took the image, the photographer wouldn’t get a penny.
So what can photographers do to protect their work.
Post your images elsewhere, where images can’t be used by that company, and link to them. FB can not use a linked image as it’s not on their site.
Post images with a watermark over them, so if FB do use them, at least you get some sort of credit. However the chances of FB using a watermarked image would be slim. And note, their is nothing in the rules which say FB can alter images, so I believe they wouldn’t be able to remove/photoshop/crop your images.
Review your privacy settings and post images which can only be seen by your followers / friends. However, this may not encourage new followers or friends.
Delete sellable images from FB
What can non-photographers do to protect their images.
Review your settings. Go to Privacy Settings in the top right hand corner of the FB site.
Post only to friends. For example, when you write a status or add an image, their is some text grayed out next to the post button. It’s easy to think that you can’t do anything with this grayed out text. But you can. Select it and your’ll find a drop down menu with who can see your post.
Be sensible with what you post. Posting a snap shot of your partner half naked, might just offend them. It might also offend those who can see the image too. So it might be time to pop younger viewers, or anyone with a sensitive disposition in a group – so you can post slightly sensitive images to your friends except those in the ‘sensitive disposition group’ Please note however, I’m not taking any responsibility for the outcome of your half naked picture of your partner.
In summary, if you post an image on FB for everyone to see, you grant FB the right to use your image by FB and the applications within FB for what ever they wish to do. But you still retain copyright.
I’ll tackle copyright and image use with other social networking sites in another blog soon. Comments welcome and if you think I’ve got something incorrect, please feel free to email or comment below.
Here’s the text that many of my friends posted regarding copyright.
In response to the new Facebook guidelines I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, comics, paintings, professional photos and videos, etc. (as a result of the Berner Convention).
For commercial use of the above, my written consent is needed at all times!
(Anyone reading this can copy this text and paste it on their Facebook Wall. This will place them under protection of copyright laws.)
By the present communiqué, I notify Facebook that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, disseminate, or take any other action against me on the basis of this profile and/or its contents. The aforementioned prohibited actions also apply to employees, students, agents and/or any staff under Facebook’s direction or control.
The content of this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of my privacy is punished by law (UCC 1 1-308-308 1-103 and the Rome Statute).