When Newscom wanted to start their Facebook page, there was a some concern from a few of our partners. They’d heard that there was a little line in Facebook’s terms of service that gave Facebook rights to whatever photos were posted on its site. So we did some investigating.
First of all, it’s true; there is a line in Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities that seems a little alarming at first glance:
… 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”).
That seems scary. When you throw the terms “specifically give us the following permission”, most photographers would rather take their photos and run. But Facebook is a tool that photographers can’t ignore (that Newscom couldn’t ignore any longer) if they want to reach more customers. So we started searching around for information on what exactly Facebook can do with our pictures.
Most of the information I found from googling was based on an earlier edition of the ToS and didn’t seem to have much bearing on the current wording. So I emailed Carolyn Wright, a lawyer specializing in photography and author of the Photo Attorney blog (btw, a fabulous resource for photographers that want to play it safe with their photos). After exchanging a few emails she responded with a link to this post: Protect your photo rights online.
She explains what Facebook actually means and then explains it nicely here:
Fortunately, Facebook eventually updated its Terms to a fair provision, so that the company can no longer use your photos for advertising purposes or sell your photos to others. The Terms now read:
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.
While social networking and online gallery sites need the right to sublicense and to display, copy, and distribute your images in order for the site to operate, such uses should be limited to or “in connection with” fulfilling the purposes of the site. Specifically, when you post your photo on Facebook, Facebook has to provide a copy of your photo to the company that hosts its website so that others can see your photo. Facebook also has to have the right to display and distribute your photo on your Facebook page so that your Facebook friends can see it. But these rights should be limited to Facebook’s services…
Let us know what you think about using Facebook to promote photography. You can also visit us on Facebook to find out about the coolest happenings in the photography world.
This entry was posted on Friday, November 5th, 2010 at 12:52 pm and is filed under Newscom News. You can follow any comments to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a comment, or trackback from your own site.