On Monday morning, Rebecca Spear, following in the footsteps of her friends, set her Facebook status with what appeared to be a statement declaring copyright over her account.
“I wasn’t going to pay it any attention until my mom posted it,” Spears, a senior studying English from Tucson, Ariz., said. “She doesn’t post silly forwards so when I saw it on her page I thought it might have some validity.”
Over the past few days, Facebook homepages were overrun with legal-type posts declaring ownership and copyright. The status read:
In response to the new Facebook guidelines, I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, 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.
By this present communique, 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 punishable by law (UCC 1 1-308-308 1-103 and the Rome Statute).
“Facebook doesn’t own your pictures. You do,” Bohning said. “When you created your account with Facebook, you agreed to let Facebook use and distribute your posts according to the privacy settings you choose. People cannot retroactively and unilaterally change their privacy and copyright terms. That’s not how a licensing agreement, or any kind of contract, works.”
Snopes.com, a reference site dedicated to checking rumors, etc., quoted an issued statement by Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes, reiterating what Bohning said.
“When you post things, like photos to Facebook, we do not own them,” Noyes said. “Under our terms, you grant Facebook permission to use, distribute, and share the things you post, subject to the terms and applicable privacy settings.”
“If people want more information on what they’ve agreed to,” Bohning said. “They can see all of their terms and conditions at facebook.com/legal/terms. In short, the only thing that can really protect you on social media is you — by ensuring that you don’t post things that you would prefer to stay private.”
In November, Facebook issued a statement amid the copyright rumors, saying that all users own and control their posted contents. For more information regarding Facebook’s policies, visit www.facebook.com/policies.