Facebook Terms of Service Change: Content is now Licensed Forever

A few weeks ago I posted about deleting my Facebook account due to their terms of service being an overly broad rights grab for any content posted on the site.

There was a lively discussion with over 30 comments left on the post. Commenter Matt Behrens noted that Facebook’s terms indicated that a user could remove his or her content and that Facebook’s license would expire at that time.

Not anymore.

While researching for my presentation, I discovered that Facebook updated their terms of use on February 4th. The section about a user being able to revoke the content license by removing the content from Facebook is now gone. There is no verbiage that indicates a user may remove Facebook’s license. Facebook now claims a perpetual license to any content posted on their service, with no way for a user to terminate that license.

  • http://www.techwraith.com Daniel Erickson

    I'm probably way off from the norm here, but I'm a pretty transparent guy, so this doesn't really bother me. Its fine with me if they want to use the content that I've posted on facebook.

    But like I said, I'm probably not the norm when it comes to copyright and privacy issues.

  • http://markcolman.tv Kram Namloc

    If you don't make your living from photos, videos or music, it's probably fine with you. But what if they stole your job, yo?

    You are the norm because most people do not own intellectual property that has any value, so most just don't care.

    I never liked Facebook anyway, but if this is a trend which spreads to other networks, it will mean that corporations own everything on the internet. You know what that means, right?

  • David N

    Does this mean that Facebook has the right to use the content, or that you are truly handing over the ownership of any content by uploading it onto their servers?

    • http://www.anotherblogger.com Aaron B. Hockley

      Facebook doesn’t claim ownership (so they can’t prevent you from using your content for your own non-Facebook purposes) but they do claim a license that allows them to do anything they want including resale, commercial use, and altering the content to create derivative works.

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  • http://daddytude.com/ Gary Walter

    This is a copy of my comment to Zuckerberg’s post. http://is.gd/jN1M
    I think there is a big difference between sharing my email-type words with others, and giving you full ownership of my creative works (e.g. photos, blogs, etc).

    It seems to me that I’m granting license to those I transmit the “stuff” to, not the medium. Facebook is the medium. What if my phone company took the same approach, or my ISP?

    I’m still not getting it?

  • http://daddytude.com/ Gary Walter

    Here’s the question I was trying to do in 140 characters though:

    I’ve granted CC license of my work on Flickr. (I’ve come to realize that even though I occasionally take a good photo, my dream of buying my way to happiness, and putting my kids through college, as a photographer, is just not going to happen.)

    However, by doing that, who knows where my photos will end up. Is this really any different than granting FBook license to my stuff? Not technically, mind you, but actually?


  • http://www.anotherblogger.com Aaron B. Hockley

    Gary: with the CC license, you’re choosing how folks can use your photos (with/without attribution, commercial/noncommercial, whether or not they can create derivative works, etc). With Facebook, everyone (according to the terms of service) gives Facebook a perpetual, worldwide, sub-licenseable right to do anything with your content (including commercial use). There is no choice involved. There is no option to use Facebook without granting that license.

    If folks are comfortable with that, that’s cool. My concern is that folks are agreeing to the terms without understanding the implications, and that if they did, many folks (myself included) would opt-out.

  • http://daddytude.com/ Gary Walter

    I appreciate you raising the issue Aaron. I’ve removed my Flickr and Blog feeds from Facebook. Technically, it is too late for those that were posted, and in reality, I doubt they would do anything stupid with my stuff. However, as a matter of principle, I’ve removed the stuff and the feeds.

    I’ve found Facebook to be somewhat useful for connecting with my non-Twitterati friends, from past and afar, and will probably keep using the service, but I know there is a potential price to pay with those mobile uploaded photos from Ping.fm.

    Thanks for helping me understand the CCL too! I’m not a detail person. 😉

  • http://nadnerb.wordpress.com Brendan O’Connell

    @Gary why would you have to delete your flickr and blog feed. They were never directly uploaded to facebook servers and are just hyperlinks, they can’t claim to be able to license that, can they?

  • tin foil hat

    Could this mean that eventually someone could buy access to your private pictures or profile? If you don’t own an exclusive license to your posted stuff how could you really keep the work from viewing it. I imagine that they may be setting up a great market for cyberstalkers

  • http://www.coffeerama.com coffee

    It makes no sense that Facebook would risk messing up a good thing by edging in on people’s intellectual property. They had people’s trust and then they go and risk losing it; not smart.

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  • http://www.myhowtoos.com Dawood Mamedoff

    I think the main danger was included in the very initial version of Terms of Use. It was about the right to modify Terms of Use without any notice to users.
    Here are main dangers of Facebook’s Terms of Use summarized: