Facebook: We own your content forever, and ever

According to The Consumerist, Facebook made a small but significant change to its TOS ("Terms of Service"): now they claim complete ownership of all of the content you upload for all time and can use it for any purpose, including making money off it, even if you close your account.

A read-through of key points in Facebook's TOS shows just how extraordinary their claims are to your creations (words, photos, videos, audio--even your name!).

1. "You are solely responsible for the User Content that you Post on or through the Facebook Service.... You represent and warrant that you have all rights and permissions to grant the foregoing licenses."

In other words, if you infringe someone else's copyright by uploading material for which you do not have the right, then it is your fault and not Facebook's. And you assert that all the content you upload is yours to hand over forever to Facebook. "Hand over forever"?

2. "You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to (a) use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute (through multiple tiers), any User Content you (i) Post on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof subject only to your privacy settings or (ii) enable a user to Post, including by offering a Share Link on your website and (b) to use your name, likeness and image for any purpose, including commercial or advertising, each of (a) and (b) on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof."

Yes, "hand over forever". They can do anything they want with it, even if you close your account. The previous TOS made it clear that, once you cancelled your account with Facebook, they would no longer retain these rights over your uploaded materials. However, things have changed. Now, even if you have left Facebook, the company can use your name and any photos or other content you uploaded in their advertising or "in connection with the Facebook Service". But what is the "Facebook Service"?

3. The "Facebook Service" is much more than what people normally think of as "Facebook-the-website". It can include any medium currently existing (books, films, audio, or whatever) and any medium developed in future. As detailed in the company's new TOS, "The 'Facebook Service' means the features, services and properties that Facebook makes available through (a) www.facebook.com or any other Facebook-branded or co-branded website (including, without limitation, any and all sub-domains and all international, mobile versions and successors thereof), (b) the Facebook Platform and ( c ) other media, devices or networks now existing or later developed."

In other words, once you upload it, they own it and can do whatever they like--however they like--with it until the end of the universe.

Update: At 2.09pm today (Monday, 16th February 2009), creator and CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg posted a long blog entry that tries to downplay the significance of the company's TOS. However, even granting Facebook's current desire to maintain the "trust" of its users and not to use the powers it gives itself in the TOS, the problem remains that the wording of the TOS does let them do whatever they want with your content.

It may not be in their interests to exercise those powers now, but who can tell what the future will bring? Will there come a time when it is in their interests to capitalise upon those powers?

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So how am I supposed to remove my profile's content without agreeing to their terms? I stripped my myspace and closed it a long time ago and will probably do the same here.

I don't need social profiles anyways, most of it is my friend's idiot wife posting racial slurs and pictures of **** no one cares about. I had created it originally because it was an easy way to share pics (that I cared about), but not anymore.

not once have i ever seen google or any other company with the same TOS ever do just that. for the years behind and to come, they never will. besides, if they did that, i'd be happy. seeing my face in their advertisements would make me slick with all the ladies ;D

You sell your sole to the devil, by subscribing to any of these free commercial sites. If it is too good to be true, it probably is, especially if "free". In the end, some greedy b'stard will come along, and try and screw money from it. Google add very little content to the web, but are profiting enormously from indexing people's hard workout along with commercial sites advertising.

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." - Thomas Jefferson (1762-1826)

Not applicable in UK as it violates 1) Contract law 2) Data Protection Act 3) Statutory rights. Any violation of those gets you a hefty fine / jail time.
While the Govt. might think that your data are theirs to flog to marketing companies / cross-link to unrelated "services", the same does not apply to private companies or individuals.

mrbester said,
Not applicable in UK as it violates 1) Contract law 2) Data Protection Act 3) Statutory rights. Any violation of those gets you a hefty fine / jail time.
While the Govt. might think that your data are theirs to flog to marketing companies / cross-link to unrelated "services", the same does not apply to private companies or individuals.

This is where I'd love to live in UK right now lol.

I warned all my friends (do it also), deleted all fotos of me and all references to it and all my personal data.
Ill bet they saved it already :(

Damn you facebook, damn you zuckerberg

hold on hold on. When I opened my facebook account (as I'm sure many of the other neowinians and web users out there), I agreed to the old facebook terms and conditions. If they change it after we have opened their account with them, I don't think its particulary fair on us, since we didn't agree to these new conditions. Normally, many contracts that do change like such (e.g. a cell phone contract) give you a warning letter at least 1 month before the change in contract, and give you the option to leave the contract for free, based on the old terms and conditions. Since we signed up for facebook based on the old ToS, we should be able to leave the service with the ToS - Facebook did not give us any prior warning about this change in conditions without our consent - legally speaking, this is wrong. Fair enough, it may be acceptable for the new people joining facebook after the new ToS has been created, but for the users who signed up to the older ToS, they should either have been warned about the change prior to it (and given a subsequent chance for people to leave / close account with facebook keeping the details), or let us continue on the old policy.

Its like someone purchases a mobile phone contract for say, £30 a month for 1000 minutes and 800 texts with a free phone - that the customer and company agrees to according to the ToS. Then, say, on the 5th month, the company decides to change its tariff ratings so the customer gets only 400 minutes and 200 texts for £30/month - he didn't agree to the change as it was not in the contract (hence its breach).

I don't think this is such a big deal as you all are saying. If you don't agree with the ToS, then don't use it. Plain and simple. I don't believe that Facebook is going to use this to their advantage.

The thing is, that we agreed to the fact that if we didn't want to use facebook (close the account), then our data would have originally been removed. However, now we really can't leave, for fear that there is a possible manipulation of our data.

After reading all of that, as interesting as it is, Facebook is a great way to spend some time and keep in contact. So off I go and check to see what's happening there...

Just dont upload anything you deem valuable. Obvious.

Facebook is lame, boring, stupid, and an excellent spam generator!

It was usefull in finding an ex girlfriend from many years go and some other dumb bitches who were in my life, and what they're up to now.

xpablo said,
Facebook is lame, boring, stupid, and an excellent spam generator!

It was usefull in finding an ex girlfriend from many years go and some other dumb bitches who were in my life, and what they're up to now.

lol that made me laugh. But still this TOS IS BULL!!! They take the absolute p***. The creator is a dick he don't care about other people he just wants to exploit them and make money. Everything in this world is exploited!!

Um, paying attention to ANY article from the Consumerist is bound to a be a huge waste of your time. Their accuracy is right up there with a British tabloid...

You've quoted "hand over forever" twice. "Hand over Forever" does not appear in their terms of service. Did they change it?

I quoted myself there. It was a rhetorical device. I meant to emphasise that what I'd said was in fact what I'd said.

not the ones displayed, but lots of people im sure don't resize the photos before they upload them, they add the full digital photo at 4megs or whatever, and the servers resize the photo, so they could have the origionals still?

Wow thats bad but, like what if i made a cartoon lets say and scan it and made it look really cool using photoshop or any program and i copyright the picture i made and put it on my facebook, wont it be illegal if facebook takes my cartoon and sell it or does what ever they want with it without my permision since it is copyrighted?

Wait, they changed it last week and didn't even ask me if I agreed?

I know I would have skipped it all and click "ok" but I smell something illegal in the way they changed it.

PsykX said,
Wait, they changed it last week and didn't even ask me if I agreed?

I know I would have skipped it all and click "ok" but I smell something illegal in the way they changed it.


First paragraph - it's always been there

Welcome to the Facebook Service, a social utility that connects you with the people around you. The Facebook Service (defined below) is operated by Facebook, Inc. and its subsidiaries and affiliates ("us," "we" or "Facebook"). By using or accessing the Facebook Service, you agree that you have read, understand and are bound by these Terms of Use ("Terms"). We reserve the right, at our sole discretion, to change or delete portions of these Terms at any time without further notice. Your continued use of the Facebook Service after any such changes constitutes your acceptance of the new Terms.


You accepted it once, and thus you accepted all future changes to it. Lot's of TOS's are like that.

thats like u were blindly accepting the love of ur mother as an infant though the consequence, a live in slavery, was nothing u were aware of.

Except it's not because an infant can't refuse those terms. You can refuse the terms of facebook by not joining. If you didn't like that term where you accept all future changes to the TOS, you shouldn't have joined.

"You accepted it once, and thus you accepted all future changes to it. Lot's of TOS's are like that."

That's the reason why TOS won't stand a chance in court. You can't have a contract with floating binding terms. Accepting a contract doesn't mean that you have to automatically accept changes later made into it even if it is explicably states so. You need to *sign* the changes in order to validate your acceptance to that and even if you are and idiot or incapable to protect yourself the law will still protect you.

I'll give you an example: I read the new terms and I don't accept. I *still* have to login, thus using the service that supposedly means automatic acceptance of TOS change, to remove my content.

It definitely won't stand a chance in court.

If I cared about Facebook having my information at any point, regardless of what's in the TOS (considering my info is on their servers no matter what), I wouldn't be using it. As it is, I don't see what the big ****ing deal is. If you care so much, don't use it.

-Spenser

Well they are letting you upload a bunch of stuff and use their site for the grand old price of free. What do I care if they use my photos?

Because it wasn't something I original agreed to first off, secondly, I have photos on my facebook that I actually sell, and don't want them to now be selling them as postcards without my consent. A company can't just offering you something free, then take what they want. If a cellphone company offers you free txt msgs, does that mean they can now sell the information to other companies? I don't think so.

Would you still not care if they sold that topless shot of you in to a company so that they had a model for the Gay Pride parade next year? They can do it!

First off, no, I wouldn't care, it wouldn't be a big deal to me, and second, I'm not stupid enough to put upload particularly stupid photos of myself so your hypothetical is irrelevant.

@Zilos - those photos are pretty much out in the public. Even if your profile is private anyone can see/take those photos if they managed to get the direct url for the photo. They could say they own that picture too and you'd probably never find out. If you cared that much about those pictures being your own and wanting to make money off of them, you probably shouldn't have uploaded them onto your facebook profile in the first place. There's other places for that online.

Well as I have said, I uploaded photos that I also sell! So now apparently they have the right to sell them also, thats BS as far as Im concerned!

stifler6478 said,
Well they are letting you upload a bunch of stuff and use their site for the grand old price of free. What do I care if they use my photos?


*facepalm*


I have a clue. I just could care less if they used the information I post. I'm also not high-strung enough to think that this is actually going to have an effect on me in any way moreso than the old TOS did. Mark Zuckerberg doesn't care about you or your pictures.

I don't see what the problem is? this type of thing is literally everywhere. For example if your a student, everything you create (using school hardware/software) belongs to the school (and this applies to any other educational institute) and you have no rights over it whatsoever, period. So if you say create a really awesome program at uni and try to sell it, the uni can sue you (it doesn't matter that you created it and that you put all the hard work into it, as it was done on uni property and therefore it belongs to them). Same as this, your putting your content in their servers, therefore it becomes their property to do with what they want. It may be a stupid but it's a fact of life, you cannot escape it (well you probably could if you tried hard enough)

Actually, one of the reasons I chose my uni as my first choice was because all the rights to anything I create whilst here remain mine, not theirs. Whilst I agree that in many places we have no choice in the matter, we should really exercise those choices where we can.

i dont see how this would ever stand up in court for users that joined prior to the "TOC" change, there was no notification given, nothing. that being said, if you've been using facebook under the old TOC, you can take them to court if you find they're using your content or likeness in a manner consistent with the new TOC, that would result in a very expensive class action lawsuit for FB. as for new members, you're pretty much f***ed, unfortunately.

Leon

wtf that is retarded! thanks for bringin that to our attention, looks like i'll have to take all my content off facebook now, and possibly close my account.... frick

Everyone should make sure that this news is posted to all sites you visit and watch how quickly their membership crashes.

Ha ha ha ha, yeah, good luck enforcing that Facebook.

The day they forced "New Facebook" on their users they started down a slippery slope. Perhaps it's time to revert to the blog. It may not be as glamorous or as connected but it's mine to control

I personally prefer "New Facebook". Besides, if I wanted to redesign MY site, I would go ahead and do it. I'm fairly certain the people who don't like the new design are a vocal minority. I'm willing to bet that the vast majority of facebook users either prefer the new design, or don't really care either way.

What is there for them to enforce? It's not like the changes are a restriction on users. It just means they can do what the hell they want with your data. Which is wrong.

People should really stop using these social networking sites. They think they're private and only their friends can see their information and pictures but that's obviously not true. It's bad enough that so many sites harvest your personal information, but it's really crazy to just willingly give it to them.

TRC said,
People should really stop using these social networking sites. They think they're private and only their friends can see their information and pictures but that's obviously not true. It's bad enough that so many sites harvest your personal information, but it's really crazy to just willingly give it to them.

If I wanted privacy on a social networking site, I'd not sign up. I use it to keep in touch with my friends that I don't particularly want to speak with in real life for whatever reason (dullness, a**holishness, etc).

lol I guess pictures of high flying business leaders and or politicians in drunk and comprimising states is going to become more common then. Nothing like posting a picture of a drunk night out and seeing it come back to sting you in the behind 20 years later

Yes but only if a high-profile users put their information in facebook, but currently there are not a Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, neither their childrend, wife, parents and such.

You can bet that many Harvard users (if not all) dropped their account several years ago when facebook decided to be "open to everyone".

ps :Osiris?, are you hippie?

You know, it's always this way. A new social site arises and become no. 1 and then later starts to suck for sick reasons until a new one arises which does the same. It's a routine. I wouldn't be surprised if tomorrow Twitter did the same thing.

Their previous terms we very good and proper (granting them the license only to distribute on the service and not to resell, etc. and only for the time you were a member)... The new ones are just sick...

There are so many outfits pulling this crap it makes me sad to see the future of the web. We need to rewrite the laws concerning contracts... This stuff isn't fair to pull...

I don't get it what is the facebook business model.

- free service.
- ???.
- profit !

May be they are profiting by using the personal information.

Magallanes said,
I don't get it what is the facebook business model.

- free service.
- ???.
- profit !

May be they are profiting by using the personal information.


yes they do...kinda. its called targeted advertising and its allllll the rage in marketing these days :P

Spacebook is the AOL of the 21st century. The same types of people are attracted to these services. It's a horde of suckers waiting to be exploited.

Co_Co, I use Adblock Plus under Firefox. I never actually see all that many ads.

I tried Facebook and found many on it just too childish, and I'm talking about the adults.

I checked some facebook profile and i was unable to find any ads (not even those google ads). So,for me facebook is too fishy.

cork1958 said,
More garbage crap!!
Should ALL be against the law!!

oh boy, you leave me not knowing where to start to comment your comment...

i won't, because it's utterly useless.

Caleo said,
Man that's crap. Glad I don't use facebook, myspace or any of these other "social" sites.

tester.br said,
facebook is c***

Glad I don't use facebook, myspace or any of these other "social" sites.


Why is your comment almost identical to comment #1 ? Even down to the punctuation and spacing.

Challenged in a court, the TOS wouldn't standup, especially for people with memberships prior to the TOS being in effect. Or for content that was on the site prior to the user agreeing to the TOS.

You can't just make someone agree to something, then change it mid stream. Contracts are a 2 way street.

"We reserve the right, at our sole discretion, to change or delete portions of these Terms at any time without further notice. Your continued use of the Facebook Service after any such changes constitutes your acceptance of the new Terms."

Read the ToS!

spacey said,
"We reserve the right, at our sole discretion, to change or delete portions of these Terms at any time without further notice. Your continued use of the Facebook Service after any such changes constitutes your acceptance of the new Terms."

Read the ToS!

Do you really think that because a company write a TOS and ask you to press a button that is it automatically something that would stand up in a court ?

Checking a box and pushing a button is not considered in many countries and state as a signture with any real value.

The status of TOS is the same as EULA.

Some web sites and software EULAs contain terms that assert that various electronic and other actions give rise to legally effective signatures. For example, a web page might announce that, by accessing the site at all, you have agreed to a certain set of terms and conditions. A software product might assert, in its packaging or on an early installation screen, that by using it you have agreed to licensing terms. These may or may not have been discernible prior to sale, and may or may not be completely displayed even at installation. Such licenses often include such restrictions as a prohibition of reviewing the product for publication (electronic or otherwise) without prior permission of the publisher/distributor, or prohibition on studying the product (i.e., reverse engineering) for an otherwise lawful purpose such as producing data files in a compatible format. Some such claims would appear to be contrary to patent law (which requires public disclosure as a condition of granting a patent) or to copyright law which does the same for works available to the public, or to contract law which requires informed knowing assent to reasonable contract terms as a condition of enforceability in court. Only if all such covered matters are trade secrets would many such clauses appear sustainable, but even so a condition of trade secrecy is maintenance of the secret by the holder. This may not be met in the case of a widely distributed product offered for sale to anyone.

The legal status of such claims is uncertain. In the US, only two states have adopted a new revision of the Uniform Commercial Code which authorize such licensing restrictions, with disclosure after purchase. The validity of such terms remains uncertain, despite the views of many EULA authors. Analogies to the physical world in which contracts and signatures are written, signed, and stored in tangible form suggest that analogous terms would not be acceptable. In the UK, Regulation 9 of the Electronic Commerce Regulations 2002 (SI 2002/2013) requires that a purchaser is able to determine in advance “the different technical steps to follow to conclude the contract.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_signatures

how legally binding is it? i'm sure changes to the terms of service without explicit knowledge that you originally signed up for could be argued in court, the internet isn't the law as far as i'm concerned.

Old Facebook Agreement,
We reserve the right, at our sole discretion, to change or delete portions of these Terms at any time without further notice. Your continued use of the Facebook Service after any such changes constitutes your acceptance of the new Terms.

We should have read the TOS better >_<

I do not join any social sites 'cept ofcourse if you include neowin as a social site, then this is the only social site that I join. I always almost (:P) want to say that people who join those sites, (MySpace/Facebook/etc) should re-evaluate themselves. :P