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Facebook Copyright Hoax

Intellectual Property

Have you recently seen copyright notices on some of your friends’ Facebook updates? They claim to prevent Facebook from owning or commercially exploiting their photos, videos and other content. The copyright notice implies that Facebook has recently changed the copyright provisions of its user agreement. It then asserts that user’s copyright over his Facebook posts. This copyright notice then instructs Facebook to request permission to exploit the user’s content, which is pointless as Facebook users agree to Facebook’s terms and conditions when they sign up to the social network.

Full hoax copyright notice:

In response to the new Facebook guidelines I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, comics, paintings, professional photos and videos, etc. (as a result of the Berner Convention). For commercial use of the above my written consent is needed at all times! (Anyone reading this can copy this text and paste it on their Facebook Wall. This will place them under protection of copyright lawsBy the present communiqué, I notify Facebook that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, disseminate, or take any other action against me on the basis of this profile and/or its contents. The aforementioned prohibited actions also apply to employees, students, agents and/or any staff under Facebook’s direction or control. The content of this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of my privacy is punished by law (UCC 1 1-308-308 1-103 and the Rome Statute). Facebook is now an open capital entity. All members are recommended to publish a notice like this, or if you prefer, you may copy and paste this version. If you do not publish a statement at least once, you will be tacitly allowing the use of elements such as your photos as well as the information contained in your profile status updates.

Facebook official statement regarding this matter:

There is a rumor circulating that Facebook is making a change related to ownership of users’ information or the content they post to the site. This is false. Anyone who uses Facebook owns and controls the content and information they post, as stated in our terms. They control how that content and information is shared. That is our policy, and it always has been

Quick Facts:

  1. There is no official registration procedure for copyright in most countries, including South Africa. Once you’ve created the work, it is instantly protected by copyright.
  2. You are not obligated to use any copyright notice in order to protect your work, you will have protection either way.
  3. It is highly recommended that you use a watermark on your photographs and images to prevent others from claiming it as their own, especially if you are a professional.
  4. There is no such thing as Berner Convention, but there is a Berne Convention which is an international agreement governing copyright.
  5. Facebook users cannot change any of the Facebook terms they agreed to when they signed up for their accounts nor can they alter any terms instituted by Facebook simply by posting a notice on their Facebook walls.
Posted on 2 December 2012
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Smit & Van Wyk deals exclusively with patents, designs, trademarks, copyright and plant breeders’ rights in South Africa. Our team of Intellectual Property attorneys have the knowledge, experience and resources to give expert legal advice regarding your Intellectual Property portfolio. We can assist with the protection, prosecution and enforcement thereof. It is our mission to provide unparalleled service to our treasured clients by developing dynamic solutions which are tailored to suit individual Intellectual Property needs. The key to achieving this lies with our vibrant people, who are eager to go beyond the call of duty.

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