The Issue With Facebook

Not a spectacular shot from me today, but a relevant one. Getting back into the swing of things with the business, of which Facebook is an important part according to almost everyone.

Trouble is the Instagram debacle just before Christmas shone a bright light into a deep dark hole in Facebook’s ToS.

For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), 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 any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.

So, while you share your work on Facebook it is essentially Facebook’s to do as it will. And if you change your mind about that, you still may not be able to do anything about it if anyone has shared your work.

This may not matter if you don’t want to make a living out of it, but it really matters to me. And really, it should matter to you too. If they own the rights to your work there is absolutely no telling where it will end up.

It’s an extreme thought, but would you want pictures of your children or yourself appearing in any kind of marketing material, let alone an organisation you may despise? It is sub-licensable after all. Which means FB can sell it on as if it were an image library.

I know of one person a couple of years ago, who actually had marketing material fall through his letterbox with pictures of his own kids on it, because someone he knew had shared his photos on FB. The marketing company apologised but the ToS essentially covers it.

From a professional point of view, the notion that my clients’ images could be used for something without their or my permission, however remote that possibility, is terrifying. It would surely leave me open to legal action.

Just my luck, I posted a shoot on FB days before the debacle. It got shared by family and friends instantly. No matter what I do, the chances of reversing that situation are nil now. I admit the chances of FB using these shots are also nearly nil, but why put that clause in there in the first place?

So. I’m thinking of another way to do things. Certainly a shift to Google Plus, possibly ditching FB altogether. It’s certainly made me think hard.

/end rant


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