Over the past few weeks I’ve been dealing with an ongoing issue with posts to the Photo Stealers Facebook Page which I’ve documented a few times here. The tl;dr version is that no matter what I post to the Photo Stealers Facebook Page, it gets deleted and I get banned (currently sitting on a 30 day ban for posting that I had brought the Photo Stealers page back). I finally got in contact with someone at Facebook directly and she’s been looking into the issue for me over the past two weeks. I finally received a reply today and my jaw has not left the floor since.
While most of the email is not really relevant to anyone but me there is one bit that affects EVERYONE that uses Facebook.
“…once something is posted or uploaded onto Facebook it becomes Facebook’s property. So if the original photographer uploaded the photo first onto Facebook and then others have taken it from there and uploaded it to their pages or profiles, this is legal and within policy, there’s nothing I can do about it unfortunately even if they are taking credit for the photos.”
I replied with “So, you are saying that any image I upload to Facebook is now Facebook’s property and anyone can steal it and so long as they are using Facebook they can do whatever they want with my copyrighted works?”
Mandy replied with the below email with a link to the Facebook policies and highlighted sections she believes were supporting her email but, in my opinion, these highlighted passages contradict her earlier statement that anything posted to Facebook is Facebook’s property.
This isn’t someone who misread the newest TOS, this isn’t a lawyer digging in too deep. This is a message, directly from Facebook stating that they own property once it’s uploaded to Facebook. She goes on to say that anyone can do anything with this content and it is legal and within policy. She also states in her emails she’s been in talks with a supervisor and the help center so this isn’t just from her. Even if she and her supervisors are misinformed this is a HUGE problem if employees at Facebook not only think they own uploaded property but enforce this policy.
I’m not one to be a “Chicken Little” when it comes to things but this is NOT good for photograhers or the creative industry as a whole.
Update 05/12/15 @ 8:00PM
Facebook has responded on the Photo Stealers Facebook Page.
Matt here from Facebook. Sorry for the inconvenience you’ve had. First, we restored the content that was removed from your page in error.
In addition, as you originally suspected, the information given in these emails is incorrect. Our terms are clear that you own the content you share on Facebook, including photos. When you post something, you simply grant Facebook a license to use that content consistent with our terms, including displaying it to the audience you’ve shared it with.
We also prohibit people from posting content that violates someone else’s intellectual property rights. If a rights owner believes that content on Facebook violates their rights, they may report it to us. You can find more information about this topic here: https://www.facebook.com/help/249141925204375
I’ve also been told that I can start posting to the Facebook Page again for Photo Stealers and my personal account has been restored. Matt stated in the post that he will look into any bans resulting from posts about Photo Stealers.
While this doesn’t give me many answers regarding everything I’ve been going through, I’m glad to hear that my hunch was right and the Facebook Employee (and her supervisors as well as the Help Center) were misinformed regarding Facebook’s policies on copyrighted works uploaded to their website.
Thank you Facebook!