Recent alarm over FACEBOOK’S policy is unfounded


Recently, as soon as Facebook has announced of the changes that will be introduced in its privacy policy and the user terms and conditions, the social network’s users began sharing the notification containing the following statements: “The copyright applies for all personal data, photographs, posts/correspondence, etc. (Berne convention). Commercial use of all, the above-mentioned matters shall be subject to my written permission in each individual case”. Furthermore, the said rights of a person, allegedly, would not be subject to protection unless a notification is published.

Intellectual property is protected even without a separate notification

This notification is spreading due to the prevailing lack of awareness of the fact that a separate notification is not required for the eligibility for protection of intellectual property. Laws on Copyrights in all the Baltic States as well as international agreements apply regardless of the notification by a person that his work is subject to copyright. That is to say, the presumption of authorship is accepted. Therefore, the general rule is that the work is subject to protection unless it is stated otherwise.

Copyright regulation is not affected by FACEBOOK’S new policy of cookies and personal information

In fact, the provisions of FACEBOOK’s terms of use concerning the protection of intellectual property remain essentially unchanged from 2009 and the recently introduced provisions of the rules only concern the cookies and the use of other personal information, which is not related to copyright protection. By introduction of the new provisions, FACEBOOK is aiming at making it very clear for what purpose the personal information will be collected and for what innovative services it is going to be used. For this reason, the policy of FACEBOOK of such kind is welcome/commendable rather than deserving criticism.

FACEBOOK may use your photographs when permitted to do so according to your privacy options and application settings

On the other hand, the said FACEBOOK policy of use determines, that by using FACEBOOK a person is giving its consent with granting a non-exclusive, inalterable, gratuitous license which is valid worldwide to use the subject matter of intellectual property which is posted on or related to FACEBOOK (e.g. photographs). However, usage of such kind (sharing with any persons) is only possible when permitted by the user in his privacy options and application settings. It means that if a user is unwilling to allow FACEBOOK to use his own photographs in any way, he should so choose in the privacy options and make sure that no material is shared with “everyone”.

In any case, there is a universally accepted general rule that a work subject to copyright may not be used without its author’s consent and without reference to the source, including the author’s name. Therefore, in case privacy options does not allow third parties to freely share person’s pictures or videos, neither FACEBOOK nor any other person is permitted to use photographs or videos for commercial purposes without their author’s consent.

If you want to share the photographs of others – name their author

So why sharing of the photographs owned by other persons is possible at all on the FACEBOOK’s social network? There is an exception in copyright law concerning reproduction of a work for personal use, according to which it is permitted for a natural person, without the authorization of the author or any other owner of copyright, to reproduce, exclusively for his individual use, not for commercial advantage, a copy of a work lawfully published or communicated to the public. It should be noted that in such case a reference to the source, including the author’s name, is required.

Sharing of a notification on FACEBOOK serves no purpose in terms of protection of one’s intellectual property

Making a general overview of the current legal regulation and the new FACEBOOK policy it may be concluded that the posting of a notification of such kind on one’s FACEBOOK profile serves no actual purpose, as the copyright and its subject matter are eligible for protection in any case.

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