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September 10, 2007

Using Facebook: Uploading Your Original Content Automatically Grants Them License to Use It

By Li Evans

Facebook_screenshot While attending this year's Philly Podcamp at Drexel University this past weekend, I attended a session on Social Networking.  Even though I know a heck of a lot about the inner workings of a lot of social networking sites, one site I'm still learning a lot about is Facebook.

Rae had a very interesting post about the privacy issues of one of those plugins (thankfully one I didn't install and won't after reading what she pointed out).  While in this sessions, Chris Penn, one of the originators of the podcamp idea, pointed out something else about Facebook that immediately got my attention.  Both of these issues really have me questioning how to effectively utilize Facebook and the 3rd party plugins for both clients and myself.

You know those Terms of Service agreements we all are suppose to read thoroughly and commit to memory before agreeing to utilize Facebook's services.  Well, if you read them as well as I, you likely missed out on one itzy bitzy section of those ToS that if you are a creator of original content (i.e. a blog, photos, artwork such as graphics and 'real art') you might want to go back and re-read this section.  After re-reading you might want to think about pulling down your original work.

Chris pointed out to the group that anything you upload to Facebook, you have automatically then given them the right to re-use and make a profit from your work.  I've snipped the section of Facebook's ToS below - emphasis is mine for purpose of this post.

Facebook's Terms of Service (ToS)

User Content Posted on the Site

By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing. You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content.

Copyright_symbol What I didn't realize is that this also covers those 3rd party plugins that integrate your content into your Facebook profile. Even if you have a copyright on the material and it's on a completely different site other than Facebook this still grants them that sublicense.  Apparently, because of this clause and the direct integration with Facebook's API that the 3rd party plugins have, you are granting Facebook the right to use your content for their own purposes.  The other issue I want to point out here is that they retain archived copies of your content even after you take it down - but neglect to say how long those archives are for.

Saturday night I removed the Flickr plugin and the FlogBlog plugin, because of the issues pointed out in the above paragraph.  I understand their are some gains to the promotional aspects of pointing my original content on Facebook, however, I just feel that that gain doesn't outweigh the fact that they can profit from my creative efforts. Perhaps you should think about this as well, if you are creating content that you might feel Facebook will profit from more than you will.


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I think that is a short sighted approach to choose not to share information on facebook. Basically the only way they are going to monetize your content is to serve ads around the content.

Google does this (it's called adwords). The increased distribution reach of facebook is well worth it in my opinion. But each must decide what is best for them.

Rodney Rumford

Rodney -
Thanks for the comment! :)

Don't get me wrong, I'm not TOTALLY dissing facebook in this resepect, I'm just pointing out that content publishers should be weary of putting their original content on Facebook.

A lot of services are this way as well.

More to my point though, was the fact of the 3rd party plugins, that even though you aren't technically uploading things to Facebook's site, you are still granting them access through these tools to do the same thing. A lot of people might not understand that (I didn't until Chris set me straight).

If you are just starting out and you want to get a wider distribution net - this might be the way to go. Facebook can definitely give you a great channel to get your original content out to more people in a quicker fashion

However, if you are offering premium content and charging people for that on your blog or website, don't connect your blog to facebook! If you have copyrighted photos on Flickr, don't connect to facebook. Not really short sited at all - more protective of income that you should be making from your original content, not Facebook.

That's more that point of what I wrote :)

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