Monday, 12 January 2009

The Great Facebook Rights Grab

Not a lot of people realise this, but when you post any content onto facebook, be that photos or text, you are granting facebook a licence to use your images for any purpose they like. This aspect of facebook is starting to get a little publicity now from PhotoAttourney and there are facebook groups dedicated to pressuring facebook into changing their terms. The biggest I have found so far is here

I discussed this with a well known pro photographer a while back and his take on it was that Facebook was now the second largest collection of images on the internet and that they would never dare upset their users by using their images in this way. But what if facebook changed ownership or went into administration, the new owners could sub-licence the images to a library and there wouldn't be a lot you could do about it.

If they never intend on using the rights that their terms of service grab, then why not change them?

In the comments, James Hill pointed out that Facebook now host 10 Billion images. Its interesting to note that Doug Beaver, a representative of facebook, replied to one of the comments in the linked article saying, "I think we're focused on the social aspect of sharing photos with your friends at the moment. Perhaps we will find ways to monetize photos in the future, but right now I think we want to make it the best social photo product out there."

So they aren't planning on making money out of your photos now, but they are thinking about it


  1. Yeah this has been a problem for me since the beginning, I don't post any content to facebook, and when friends ask me for my photos to put on their facebook, or to use as their profile photos I have to politely decline (meanwhile try and inform as many of them of the bs rights they have imposed)... which is a shame as it's one of the best tools for getting images out there.

    But why would they change... they have no reason to... they announced late last year that they just reached the 10 billion unique photo mark, that's a lot of content from willing/ignorant users.

  2. I never realised that but have started putting branding on any pictures I put on-line now. Really thinking that if client's or anyone else use them there may be some positive come back.

    Facebook compresses files so much they would not be suitable for commercial use IMHO.

    Also if you get link backs to your website that is worth more to you than your images to them.

    Personally I don't think it's anything to be concerned about as long as you're not putting up high resolution images.

  3. Putting branding on the images and low res is a good idea Pat, but first people need to be aware of the issue.

    There is no requirement for facebook to link back to your images so you are not getting any value there.

    The images are good enough for web use. Also the goofy picture you posted of yourself might be good enough to show your friends on FB but you wouldn't want to see it being used in a defamatory manner as part of a viral ad campaign on the net.