Maybe it’s already passed, or maybe it’s yet to pop up in your Facebook News Feed, but it’s back and making the rounds. However, just like last time – and just like every time it will pop up in the future – the Facebook Copyright Notice is a silly hoax that can’t do anything to protect your rights, so don’t fall for it.
It typically goes like this: One or two people in your Facebook feed start posting an ominous, faux-legalese “notice” of copyright protection on their feed. Maybe you don’t pay attention to it initially, but soon your Facebook feed is full to bursting with actual friends, loved ones, former significant others, and that one weird girl from high school; each of them reposting the same phrase in an effort to protect the contents of their own Facebook postings from exploitation by the world’s largest social network.
“In response to the new Facebook guidelines,” the post typically reads, “I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, comics, paintings, professional photos and videos, etc. (as a result of the Berner Convention). For commercial use of the above, my written consent is needed at all times!”
Of course, nobody quite knows what the Berner Convention is, so the folks reposting this “copyright notice” on your Facebook feed might as well be citing Plessy v. Ferguson as copyright precedent. As ABC News points out, the name is somewhat similar to the Berne Convention, which actually does protect literary and artistic works internationally, but it’s not exactly the sort of thing one can just cite in a Facebook posting and, y’know, expect to have hold up in a court of law.
This sort of hoax copyright posting – because it is a hoax – has been popping up on Facebook for a while, but it really took off shortly before and immediately following Facebook’s initial public offering. The thinking went that, as a newly public company, Facebook would suddenly begin using its users’ posts as, like, a way to advertise for… Facebook? Or something? Nobody was terribly clear about it; they just said to repost the status in order to protect your postings and personal information. There might have also been something about Bill Gates donating $10 to cure AIDS for every 100 people who shared a picture of a puppy. Or something.
And, of course, nobody thought to do the obvious thing to keep Facebook from “claiming ownership” of one’s postings and data: stop posting things to Facebook.
Here’s the thing: If you’ve got a Facebook account, you’ve already given away access to all of the stuff Facebook cares about. Facebook isn’t going to suddenly change its privacy settings and copyright in order to make sure it can use your (meticulously taken) selfie in an ad; it can already do all of the things it needs to do as Facebook, and you gave it those permissions when you signed up for the service.
“Under our terms,” Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes recently said in a statement, “you grant Facebook permission to use, distribute, and share the things you post, subject to the terms and applicable privacy settings.”
What’s more, Facebook doesn’t make any attempt to claim copyright over the information, images, content, or anything else that you post. The redistributive aspects of Facebook’s terms are meant to cover the normal operation of the site: ensuring that you don’t sue Facebook for widely posting the things that you already shared to the social network.
So save yourself a few clicks and copies and pastes and don’t repost this latest iteration of the Facebook Copyright Notice. Besides, if a simple status update were able to stop Facebook’s nefarious plans, wouldn’t the site just copyright the Copyright Notice itself and sue anybody who reposted it?
[Lead image via Channel 4]