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.
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.