As two prominent bloggers on WordPress pointed out to me this week, I am not a lawyer.
“Sigh – another pretend lawyer deciding that a major photographer’s rights organization with REAL lawyers can’t possibly be right.”
Quoted in full in reply to their prominent blog post about Facebook’s Terms of Service and Photos.
Since I am not a Lawyer and never studied law I cannot argue in legalize, I do know that I am able to argue with common sense.
In 2013 there were some changes made to Facebook terms of service and now they are being changed again, ready to be introduced in January 2015.
As a layman the language used can seem confusing. It sounds like all IP (intellectual property, like my pictures) can be used by Facebook anyway they like, up to and including selling them (section 1). These terms have to be written in a far reaching way to ensure that they are not sued by people who find a loophole in the Terms of Service. In 2013 when there were some major changes to the language used in Facebook’s Terms of service, it was partially related to with a court settlement (Farley vs Facebook) and sponsored stories on Facebook ;
“About Advertisements and Other Commercial Content Served or Enhanced by Facebook. As part of a legal settlement, we agreed to further explain how we may use your name, profile picture, content and information in connection with ads or commercial content.
Facebook needs have the terms of service written like this (in section 2 part one of the terms of service) to allow your profile picture to be used in Facebook advertising systems, for example endorsed advertising. This language also allows for future applications being design by Facebook not to be limited by the Terms of Service or having to change the Terms of Service every time.
There has been talk by some photographers to add big watermarks on images uploaded to Facebook or just linking to the photo off Facebook. Facebook though doesn’t get money from sending you away and wants really to create a closed area that you never have to leave. This is why in the Facebook algorithm original content ranks higher than links. A photo posted gets more views than a post with a link.
Adding a big watermark to an image is great way to protect images, who would want them then? That is exactly the point, who would want to see it? The experience of your friends and (if you have a blog) your followers is diminished by slapping a huge watermark on an image. It may “protect the image” but in most cases you can’t see the picture. I know for a fact I just scroll past big watermarked images*.
We do need to think about what we put on Facebook. Facebook does strip the metadata from images when they are uploaded, and can be downloaded by anyone who has access to your gallery. Is it a good idea to put some very private pictures on Facebook or even your best work? Using your privacy settings you can control who can see an image and potentially steal it, but should we be putting all our images on Facebook.
Since I am not a Lawyer, I don’t know what the implications are if you have agreed to an exclusive licence for an image to a third party and then upload a picture to Facebook and therefore giving Facebook; a royalty free, non-exclusive, worldwide license, as stated in the Terms of Service.
Maybe we should be less worried about Facebook stealing our pictures and be thinking more about what pictures put on Facebook.
Here is a rational reason why Facebook is not stealing your images; if they did it would be suicide for the site.
We hand over a lot of information to Facebook and because of this we are worth money to Facebook. It may not seem like a huge amount with the average account being worth between $13-$40. Facebook collects information on, where we live, regularly go, where we work, how often we go on holiday and even can calculate roughly our income and expenditures through what we post, like and where we check in; Facebook even knows the type of computer and smart phone you use and how often you upgrade. Due to this we are allowed to use the site for free (source).
There is also an unwritten agreement between us and Facebook, they have this information and we use the site for free, but they can’t overstep the bounds of normalcy. If Facebook started “Stealing” pictures (selling pictures to third parties) it would become national and international news. There would be a huge uproar about privacy concerns and people would want change or leave the service and yes people will leave. Brands are pretty quick to smell what the public are thinking and will pull away from the site as well (Brands pulled adverts from Gawker after the editor promoted bullying ). This would leave Facebook in the position to back pedal or face financial losses.
*putting watermarks on pictures is personal choice and I have gone around the houses back and forth and I don’t believe there is a right or wrong way to watermark an image.
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If you wish to get notifications when I post on my blog, you can follow me on Twitter@apertureF64, on Facebook.com/aperturesixtyfour or alternatively be emailed by subscribing below. All images are the Copyright of Benjamin Rowe , ALL RIGHTS Reserved unless credited to another photographer. For more information please read my Copyright Statement