Copyright or Wrong?

Robin slaps Batman

© Me 😉

It seems like the recent copyright declaration circulating on Facebook is being dismissed as a hoax. Despite a spelling mistake (it’s the Berne Convention and it exists) it’s actually quite sound. Any kind of copyright attached to your work can stand up in court. In theory you can simply add a © and you’re home and dry, but you also need to add your name and the year your photo, video or music originated. The fear that Facebook could steal your content is a moot point: if your privacy settings are ‘Public’ then you don’t have much cover having agreed to Facebook terms when you set up your account. Custom privacy settings can protect your content, but a fact can’t be copyrighted, so any comments or text that you post can be quoted and passed to third parties such as advertisers.

Batman slaps Robin

Holy copyright law, Batman!

There are two important points to consider here. Firstly, once you upload something to the internet the genie is well and truly out of the bottle: you may still own your work but you can’t control it’s distribution. You can apply for removal, but the word ‘viral’ means exactly what it says on the tin. A Google Image search is a great way to see who is using your images, but you might need to send a lot of ‘cease and desist’ notices.

Secondly, everything has a digital footprint, which means almost every kind of file can be dated and traced to an IP address. So if your work is stolen, the chances are you will eventually emerge as the rightful owner. Worth bearing in mind if you generate any kind of content which can be commercially exploited. Mr. Zuckerberg has saved a lot of money through corporate tax loop-holes in the UK (it could be one of the reasons for the recession, others being Apple, Starbucks, Tesco and Vodafone) and the last thing he needs is to be faced by a class action. From thousands of people.

Categories: Design, Random, Vibe Monitor | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

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15 thoughts on “Copyright or Wrong?

  1. Very well put.

  2. Woa, this is scary as I just read an article about this in a German newspaper 🙂 Seems there is also a short statement on the FB page now:

    I’ve seen some of my friends post this objection statement either as message or as a picture and interestingly all of them had their whole profile or part of it set to ‘public’, agreed to (social) adverts and – on top of it – are continuously violating the copyrights of others by loading up pictures they found on the web. So by posting this statement they actually declare copyright for things they don’t own themselves which annoys me to no end at the moment. It’s a weird world.

    • Thanks for the link, and while it’s reassuring it also makes you wonder why Facebook would publish a disclaimer.

  3. Impressive analysis and commentary!

    • Well I know a thing or two about copyright. Very strange to see so many people denying the existence of the Berne Convention. Obviously there are a lot of snippy keyboard warriors out there…

  4. ‘Keyboard Warriors’ .. I like that.

  5. Stevo

    Did you do the batman pic? That is so funny! Seems like the people crying hoax are scared.

    • I had a mess around in Photoshop. I imagined the type of people who were making the Batman images and thought I’d give them all a good slap!

  6. A friend commented on this that Facebook won’t use your content because much of what’s found on FB already breaks copyright and they won’t take the risk. This is the “use first and apologize later” mentality, Berne Convention be damned. But read the fine print on any site, organization or contest soliciting images and you’ll see that they have full right to anything you post, forever. And then they laugh at “starving artists” after they’ve stolen our stuff.

    • If people are waking up to these small print issues and taking an interest in their own rights then it’s a good thing. I hope you’re not starving, Bernadette! 😉

      • It is a good thing, and this kind of theft of intellectual property is not new. As a graphic designer I’ve had people hand me calendars, greeting cards, books, all sorts of copyrighted images and text and insist I use it for their ad or flyer or whatever. At least people are aware now that those items and all other images are not “fair use”. No, I’m not starving, but I’ve had more than my share of people laugh at me and ask if I’m a starving artist when I say I’m an artist, but they’ll be happy enough to use my image without my permission or ask me to donate to their cause with my art. I hope all this makes everyone yet more aware that all these images are created by an individual who has as all the rights to its use.

      • Absolutely. I actually had someone trying to pass my artwork off as his own. We were chatting online and I had a lot of fun tormenting him until I revealed who I was. The audacity!

  7. I was going to put a very scary photo of myself up there, then all those notices started flying around. I was already paranoid enough about it before the notices! I love the Batman cartoons – that’s just what it’s been like on FB lately with all that slapping.

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