Every once in awhile, you’ll notice that almost everyone on Facebook is posting a few paragraphs of legalese as a status update, effectively barring Mark Zuckerberg and his associates from misusing their personal details and precious photos of your dog. Maybe you have been this person. It’s okay. It happens to the best of us.
In the past few days, you may have noticed a new permutation of that status update taking your news feed by storm. If you’re one of the lucky few who hasn’t, here it is:
“In response to the new Facebook guidelines I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, comics, paintings, crafts, 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 laws.)
By 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 If you do not publish a statement at least once, you will be tacitly allowing the use of elements such as your photos as well as the information contained in your profile status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…”
What? The Berner Convention has been invoked? This sounds serious! Or, maybe not. As Gawker points out, this status update isn’t exactly the legal forcefield people think it is.
According to Gawker, “[y]our copyright is already automatically attached to any intellectual property you post to Facebook, as Facebook itself acknowledges in its "Help Center" and Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.”
Basically, when you sign up for Facebook you essentially agree to a certain set of privacy guidelines and policies, so cutting and pasting a status update into your profile doesn’t really negate that. A lot of those policies are explicitly laid out in the terms of service that most people don’t read — they just click “I Agree” and then move on to reject Farmville requests from old grade school classmates.