Mind Your Copyrights: Is Facebook Getting Grabby?

Kim PierceallCommunicating and Writing, Marketing

Whether or not you have taken the plunge and started exploring the possibilities for smart business marketing among the social networking sites, this news bears watching. This week, a story broke that Facebook recently – and quietly — changed its copyright policies which made it rather unclear as to whether or not they would own whatever users post on the popular communications site.

Their Powers That Be have responded that the changes weren’t meant/don’t mean what you think they mean. In a cnet news report (Facebook: Relax, we won’t sell your photos), spokesman Barry Schnitt’s statement indicated that, “[t]he new Terms were clarified to be more consistent with the behavior of the site. …That is, if you send a message to another user (or post to their wall, etc…), that content might not be removed by Facebook if you delete your account (but can be deleted by your friend).”

Still, cnet warns: “Things are a little bit murky for sure, though. Unlike the Yahoo-owned Flickr, Facebook does not have extensive copyright preferences, meaning that a professional photographer might want to choose a media-sharing site where there’s less of a gray area as to what can actually happen down the road.”

This development shouldn’t stop entrepreneurs and freelancers from using such sites to promote their services. But we should all be mindful of what value our information has in this digi-age while proceeding cautiously.

All in all, it seems a boneheaded move by FB. Either the terms should have be edited more carefully to state what they claim they mean or they might have followed the collaborative approach the site seems to encourage by posting a draft and creating a bit of dialogue around it. Lawyers may shudder at such a notion, but as a marketer, I say if you don’t talk to your audience directly, you will simply lose them.

More selfishly, I worry that I won’t be able to enjoy the random postings of pals like Bob Huff’s lovely photos. Let’s hope not.