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A NEW MEDIA ATTORNEY DISCUSSES FACEBOOK’S TOS

by
in Filmmaking
on Feb 17, 2009

I posted below about the change in Facebook’s Terms of Service and the uproar it has caused online. From reading the various articles and postings, it seems like there are two groups of people discussing this. First, there are the regular Facebook users who employ the service to keep up with the friends, swap links, and occasionally post personal photos that are never intended to have a commercial use. Some of these people are disturbed by Facebook’s policies because they don’t want their daughter to grow up and become the next Angelina Jolie and then find all of her high-school pictures plastered on top of Facebook ads or, worse, sold to the tabloids. Others simply don’t care or don’t anticipate enough value accruing to their personal photos, private messages and Wall postings to worry about it.

Then there is the group consisting of creative professionals and serious artists who see Facebook as a way to spread the word about their work and keep their fans updated. In order to do this, they may post photos, texts, films, or excerpts of larger works as a way to promote themselves or perhaps just share for no remuneration what they’ve been working on. Some of these people may hope for a big payday someday. Others might subscribe to a gift economy ethos and not want to see money change hands for their work. And others may be in between, sharing some work while still hoping to get paid down the line. For all of these people, the broad license that is seemingly granted to Facebook is a big issue. Yes, as Mark Zuckerberg has written, Facebook is in the business of creating an inviting space, and exploiting its members’ original content would not be wise business. But, any artist knows that when it comes to intellectual property, one must assume that what is allowed by a written contract could one day come true.

For an analysis of what’s in that written contract, here is a post and a short podcast for an attorney at new media law firm Jacobson Attorneys. It’s from their web.tech.law blog.

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