Facebook and Photographer Rights

Facebook has made an incredible and indefensible rights grab that should outrage any photographer. They assert they have the right to use your images, including your portrait, in any way they wish. Under Licensing in Terms of Use it reads (with my emphasis added in bold):

“You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to (a) use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute (through multiple tiers), any User Content you (i) Post on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof subject only to your privacy settings or (ii) enable a user to Post, including by offering a Share Link on your website and (b) to use your name, likeness and image for any purpose, including commercial or advertising, each of (a) and (b) on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof.”

Furthermore, they retain these rights even if you terminate your account.

“The following sections will survive any termination of your use of the Facebook Service: Prohibited Conduct, User Content, Your Privacy Practices, Gift Credits, Ownership; Proprietary Rights, Licenses, Submissions, User Disputes; Complaints, Indemnity, General Disclaimers, Limitation on Liability, Termination and Changes to the Facebook Service, Arbitration, Governing Law; Venue and Jurisdiction and Other.”

These provisions were added on February 4, virtually in the dark of night. Zuckerberg asserts that Facebook would never use the provisions they just added and that the language means other than what it plainly states. This is, to put it charitably, disingenuous. Whether these provisions are enforceable or not is immaterial. They are an attempt to grab our intellectual property.

There is a firestorm of criticism over the new policy yesterday. The Consumerist website, a division of the Consumer Union, drew attention to the issue. The same day groups sprang up on Facebook itself calling for the withdrawal of the new terms.

We should complain vociferously and refuse to post any content beyond chatter until these provisions are rescinded. Furthermore, read the terms of service for every site you use. We are swimming with sharks.

13 Responses to “Facebook and Photographer Rights”

  1. Janet says:

    what a cheap shot! Absolutely, under any circumstances, not okay!

  2. Dug Threewitt says:

    Thanks for posting this. I have passed this on to my many friends that have posted anything creative on Facebook and urged them to stop.

  3. NoPainForGain (ex WK employee) says:


  4. Harold says:

    I read about that today, shocking isn’t it! I never plan on joining and I know I’ll never will. Everyone should stop using them immediately and no one else should join and put them out of business period!

  5. Dean Forbes says:

    I was about to deactivate my account when I read this from Facebook:

    “Deactivating due to change in Terms of Service
    Are you deactivating because you are concerned about Facebook’s Terms of Service?

    This was a mistake that we have now corrected. You own the information you put on Facebook and you control what happens to it. We are sorry for the confusion.

    – The Facebook Team”

  6. Roger says:

    Not a big Facebook fan and more’s the reason!

  7. Harold says:

    See Dean Forbes’s comment.
    Seems like Facebook reverted back to the old Terms of Service.
    Power To The People we can make things change!

  8. Clay Bolt says:


    Thanks for the heads-up. This is absolutely insane. Can anyone verify that they have, in fact, returned to their original Terms of Service?

  9. Becky L. says:

    I will rememeber this and not post really good photos from now on. What a bummer to know of this. I guess we really don’t read the fine line, huh? Thanks for the eye opener, Art.
    Am enjoying the Travels to the Edge series again this year. I try not to miss a show. God bless, Becky L.

  10. coffee says:

    Sadly, most people would not have looked closely enough to notice the change in Facebook’s Terms of Service… looks them social networkers are doing a good job of looking out for each other

  11. Ilona says:

    It looks like Facebook reverted back to its previous Sept 2008 policy after massive protests from its users: http://www.businesspundit.com/facebook-terms-of-use-back-to-normal/

  12. I like reading through an article that can make people think.
    Also, thank you for permitting me to comment!

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