This week a viral “copyright notice” has been spreading on Facebook, claiming to protect a person’s profile data. Unfortunately, the notice is fake and does nothing to give the user copyright protection over their Facebook profile.
The notice started spreading a few days after Facebook announced that it would no longer let users vote on privacy guideline changes like they could in the past. This change was due to the extremely low response in voting that Facebook received to privacy changes. Instead, Facebook now allows users to comment on the privacy changes to show their opinion.
The rather lengthy “notice” starts “In response to the new Facebook guidelines I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, graphics, comics, paintings, photos and videos, etc. (as a result of the Berner Convention). For commercial use of the above my written consent is needed at all times!”
In addition to being full of errors, it also claims that it is immediately and legally effective just by existing as somebody’s status update. The notice, in reality, has no such power and Facebook and its users are still legally bound by the terms and conditions that users accept when they sign up.
This is not the first time a notice like this has gone viral, there was a similar one circulated last summer. While the notices themselves don’t do anything legally, they do show that many people do not understand the legal weight of agreeing to terms and conditions.
The website College Humor made this video about how little effect the new notice will actually have on Facebook’s privacy, and while it is funny, the issue of understanding terms and conditions is no laughing matter. We always recommend that people read the terms and conditions before signing up to any website, including all the major social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+. Terms and conditions are essentially legally binding contracts and users should understand what they are getting into before using these services.
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