The kids at Facebook are still trying to dig themselves out of the intellectual property hole they dug themselves. The latest episode in this saga is: Facebook Town Hall: Proposed Statement of Rights & Responsibilities
This is their latest proposal. The cute thing here is calling it a Statement as though it is just folks talking. Make no mistake, this is a fucking Contract, and will bite you on the ass. This is a work in progress, but still falls short.
The most important section of this is Section 2, which deals with your stuff, and licensing it to them.
2. Sharing Your Content and Information
You own all of the content and information you post on Facebook, including information about you and the actions you take (“content”). In order for us to share your content and provide you with our services, you agree to the following:
This is reality slapping them in the face, due to to Copyright Law in the US. Here is the problem with this. Currently if you have Copyright in one hand and shit in the other, you will need to have toilet paper handy. (Also in section 14, they make the point that they are bound by the laws of the State of California, so Federal Copyright applies. Cal hasn’t seceded, or fallen into the ocean yet)
2.1 You give us permission to use, store, and share content you post on Facebook or otherwise make available to us (“post”), subject to your privacy and application settings.
Here is where the rabbit hole opens up. “You give us permission to use, store, and share”. This opens the door to granting them a license in absence of any other statement they make. ‘Implied’ and ‘reasonable’ have won more contract lawsuits than you can imagine.
The only thing this needs to say is: You give us permission to store, because that is the deal here, you get space and they get numbers and data. They are providing space, but you are creating the page. There is no reason for Facebook to need usage or sharing unless they are going outside of this agreement.
The only one who is using or sharing your stuff is you, and the folks in your circle.
Privacy? This is the fucking Internet. There is nothing private out here.
2.2 You may delete your content or your account at any time with the understanding that removed information may persist in backup copies for a reasonable period of time (but will not be generally available to other users), and that content shared with others may remain until they delete it.
The gem here is the qualifier “(but will not be generally available to other users)”. If you delete your account, under what specific scenarios would it be kept? The internet is just like a neighborhood. Stuff appears and disappears just like neighbor who moves or the store on the corner that closes down. The space may be there, but nobody is home and you have to move on.
Content shared with others? let me see here… you write on somebody’s page, it becomes part of their page, you share a photo, it becomes part of their page, and no longer is yours, making this a bullshit argument. Creating a url to a picture or page on your page is leaching and is frowned upon. In a worst case, somebody’s page will show a busted link or a broken image. This is a pancake makeup argument. They want to have every bit of crap to be permanent, so they don’t have to explain that your page get busted links and a demonstration of churn, and looks like shit because your ‘friends’ left Facebook. Remember when I mentioned that these sharecroppers don’t publicize how many active accounts they have?
Before we get to the money shot part of this, let’s review Copyright. In its simplest form, Copyright covers original writing and creation, whether it be words, photographic, visual(painting, dancing, design, still or moving like video), or auditory such as music. As the Creator of stuff, your Copyright gives you a limited monopoly to license your work, such as copying , publicly perform or display, distribute, modify, translate, and create derivative works. Licensing is what makes the book, movie, and music industries possible.
Do you really want to give all of these away for free?
2.3 For content that is covered by intellectual property rights (like photos and videos), 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, copy, publicly perform or display, distribute, modify, translate, and create derivative works of (“use”) any content you post on or in connection with Facebook. This license ends when you delete your content or your account.
Let’s start with they left out. Your writing. Everything you write is covered by copyright. Copyright got its start with the written word.
Here is where the bullshit gets deep. you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use, copy, publicly perform or display, distribute, modify, translate, and create derivative works of (“use”) any content you post on or in connection with Facebook.
They do not need nor should they be allowed to have a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use, copy, publicly perform or display, distribute, modify, translate, and create derivative works of (“use”) any content you post
You do need to grant them a license of sorts to play on Facebook.
This covers your ass and acknowledges you as the Copyright Owner.
They need a non-exclusive license to be able to display your writing and images, as this again notes that you are the copyright owner. The primary reason is that you may be one of those fickle people who has a MySpace or windows live account, as well as a Facebook account. They are smart enough in one respect of understanding that an exclusive license would put them in a world of hurt. Somebody would sue somebody, and there is no need to stimulate the economy with full employment for lawyers.
They do not need nor should they be given, any transferability as you are in a gated community, nor should it be sub-licensible, which gives them the rights to grant or sell your stuff without any permission or royalties.
They do not need a worldwide license as their servers are in California, and despite where you may be viewing from, at the end of the day, you are viewing things in California.
They do not need a license to copy except for backups which are not publicly available(hopefully).
They do not need a license to publicly perform or display, as this is a gated community and you have to be a member to see things.
They do not need a license to distribute, modify, translate, and create derivative works. Distribution is your right as the copyright holder, modifification, translation and creating derivative works are also Your Rights as a copyright owner.
You really do not want to give these rights away.
This is not an outrageous demand, since they are providing you with space for your cat photos.
Royalties are money and what you get when you license your stuff for money. Social Networks are not the place to make money. Besides, there are not enough accountants on the planet to track this stuff. They are all busy trying to figure out what credit default swaps are or where the ponzi scheme money is.
Here is what a fair license grant should look like:
In exchange for my uploading materials to your site, you will receive a Limited, fully revocable, License to Display my materials on your network in the Original forms as delivered to you, with full attribution to me as the author/copyright holder, for the duration of our engagement, being the period of time that we are entered into this arrangement, evidenced by my use of the username/password you have provided and the space on your network you have made available to me.
All others rights are Reserved including, but not limited to, reproduction, modification, distribution outside of the aforementioned space, subsidary public display, public performance, and or derivative works in any format, online or offline.
Anything less is bullshit. They need you a lot more than you need them.
Remember, without you, there is no them.