11

Can I copyright my Facebook status updates? In the terms and agreements I didn't see a clear statement stating that Facebook owns my material.

Secondly, if I can't copyright the material I post on Facebook, should I use Facebook at all outside of recreational and personal use?

17

Technically, you own all of the content you post on Facebook; therefore, you can copyright it. HOWEVER, by posting something on Facebook you:

...grant [Facebook] a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on... Facebook.

and while this license ends when you delete the content from Facebook or delete your account, this does not apply if "your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it."

For practical purposes, this could reasonably be interpreted as meaning that if somebody saves content you shared on FB to their computer, then while you still own the copyright to that content, Facebook has full rights to use that content, as does anyone they choose to sub-license or transfer that right to.

Long story short: You own everything you post to Facebook, but Facebook can do pretty much whatever they want with it, including allowing other people to do pretty much whatever they want with it. Don't post something to Facebook if you want to keep control over who uses it and how.

Source: Facebook Terms of Service

  • 4
    I would add that you should keep in mind that FB has a reputation to maintain. If your FB statuses are pieces of a best-seller you're writing, that doesn't mean FB is going to "steal" it from you. Technically that might be legal for FB to do, but the PR consequences would destroy them. The greater worry is that your nascent best-seller is loose in the ether. – dmm May 1 '15 at 14:24
  • 5
    @dmm: What reputation to maintain? Considering all the stuff Facebook's already done and gotten away with, where the PR consequences should have destroyed them but ended up doing nothing of the sort, I'm somewhat disinclined to accept your thesis here. – Mason Wheeler May 1 '15 at 17:49
  • 2
    @Philipp You are right and I was wrong. Here is an informative post by a lawyer: nyccounsel.com/business-blogs-websites/… Bottom line: don't share anything on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Maybe that's a plus for Google+ ? – user5645 May 2 '15 at 12:02

protected by Community Sep 17 '18 at 13:48

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