Friday, November 30, 2012

Facebook, UCC, Copyright and those Damned Notices Everybody is Posting

See credit below: royalty free image
I'm sure you've seen them.  Seems like half the people on Facebook are posting this "Notice" that everything they post on Facebook is "privileged" and that it may not be copied for commercial purposes.*  Then smiting all who may violate this edict with Section 1-308 of the Uniform Commercial Code.  The avowed purpose is to keep Facebook, since it is now a publicly trade corporation, from taking ownership of all your photos to do with as they wish.

So here's the truth.  It's all bullshit.

Sorry to be so blunt, but I've seen so many people - including some lawyers - posting this useless drivel that it has me annoyed.  Even more annoying is that people think this is the way the law works.  You post some sort of technical disclaimer that nobody understands, citing statutes that you don't know anything about, and it has some magic qualities.

That's NOT how the law works, folks.

So let's get the facts out there:

1.  In order to use Facebook, you have to agree to the terms of use and policies of Facebook.  You cannot alter the terms of the Facebook agreement by posting some type of unilateral notice.  You can't do that with any contract, which is exactly what your clicking on that agreement in order to use Facebook created.

2.  Facebook does NOT own your content.  But depending upon your privacy and sharing settings, by clicking the little button agreeing to its terms, you agree to  "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)."  In other words, unless your privacy setting prevent it, anything you post on Facebook is fair game for others to share on Facebook.

2.  Your options with Facebook are:  (1) Don't agree and don't sign up to use it (2) Sign up then participate in Facebook's Site Governance in an effort to persuade Facebook to change its policies; or (3) Quit using Facebook.   And again NO!  You can not unilaterally change the terms of the agreement by some post on your wall.

3.  No, Section 1-308 of the Uniform Commercial Code does NOT allow you to post a notice and avoid the impact of the Facebook Agreement, or any other contract.  The UCC, which is adopted with variations by every state, governs commercial transactions. It is one of the more complex things in the law to fully understand.  It takes a full semester class in law school to just get the basics. 

So  in short - you are not preserving copyright in your works by publishing this inane "Notice."  You are not changing the terms and policies of your agreement with Facebook.

Look like you know what you're doing.  Don't post that stupid insipid Notice.

 *Here's an example of the inane posting that you will see:
For those of you who do not understand the reasoning behind this posting, Facebook is now a publicly traded entity. Unless you state otherwise, anyone can infringe on your right to privacy once you post to this site. It is recommended that you and other members post a similar notice as this, or you may copy and paste this version. If you do not post such a statement once, then you are indirectly...allowing public use of items such as your photos and the information contained in your status updates.
PRIVACY NOTICE: Warning - any person and/or institution and/or Agent and/or Agency of any governmental structure including but not limited to the United States Federal Government also using or monitoring/using this website or any of its associated websites, you do NOT have my permission to utilize any of my profile information nor any of the content contained herein including, but not limited to my photos, and/or the comments made about my photos or any other "picture" art posted on my profile.
You are hereby notified that you are strictly prohibited from disclosing, copying, distributing, disseminating, or taking any other action against me with regard to this profile and the contents herein. The foregoing prohibitions also apply to your employee, agent, student or any personnel under your direction or control.
The contents of this profile are private and legally privileged and confidential information, and the violation of my personal privacy is punishable by law. UCC 1-103 1-308 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED WITHOUT PREJUDICE

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