No, Facebook doesn’t own your images, but it can use them!

Facebook rumor

Because news gets around in the blink of an eye, the Web is always rife with rumors. And Facebook has yet again found itself in the eye of the storm. But, this time there is recorded evidence of what could have been an unwitting “foot in mouth” incident—one that involves a Facebook sales representative.

For those who came in late, photographers across the world were up in arms, only a couple of days ago. The reason: a revelation that all the images you post on Facebook become “Facebook’s property”.

Now, you may have heard this in the past, but there was no referable evidence. Until Photo Stealers received a response to a complaint (they were being banned for posting content on their page)!

Quoting the rep who responded to Photo Stealers’ email—““…once something is posted or uploaded onto Facebook it becomes Facebook’s property. So if the original photographer uploaded the photo first onto Facebook and then others have taken it from there and uploaded it to their pages or profiles, this is legal and within policy, there’s nothing I can do about it unfortunately even if they are taking credit for the photos.”

That sent ripples across the photography community, not to mention regular people who may find all the legalese too much to handle.

Fortunately, Facebook quickly doused the flame by stating that the representative was misinformed. Their email to Photo Stealers clarified things for everybody’s sake:

“Our terms are clear that you own the content you share on Facebook, including photos. When you post something, you simply grant Facebook a license to use that content consistent with our terms, including displaying it to the audience you’ve shared it with. 

We also prohibit people from posting content that violates someone else’s intellectual property rights. If a rights owner believes that content on Facebook violates their rights, they may report it to us. You can find more information about this topic here: https://www.facebook.com/help/249141925204375

Phew!

Having said that, this incident is a waking call for most of us who rarely ever go through an agreement or terms of use/service. In Facebook’s case, we know that it may not own our images but it does have the rights to use them (license for use).

But history tells us that it doesn’t take long for Murphy’s law to play out. Don’t wait until then, read your agreements before you sign them.

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