Facebook images are protected by copyright

Focus on photo rights: Facebook owns my photos - or do they?

On average, each user uploads a new photo every four days. A great carelessness, one would like to think with these sober numbers. And yet one often hears from professional photographers and ambitious hobbyists that they do not want to upload photos to Facebook because they would then "belong" to Facebook. But is that true? Is Facebook not just a data octopus but also a mean copyright thief? Or is it that the photographers are completely wrongly limiting themselves to a free advertising platform with an almost unlimited reach?
We'll take a closer look at that.

Why does Facebook need a license?

If you log into Facebook, you have to agree to the terms of use. The following rule can be found right at the beginning:

"For content that is protected by intellectual property rights, such as photos and videos (IP content), you expressly grant us the following permission [...]:
You grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sublicensable, royalty-free, worldwide license for the use of any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP license). This IP license ends when you delete your IP content or your account; unless your content has been shared with others and they have not deleted the content. "

So Facebook is actually granted rights to the uploaded photos. And for a good reason. Because only the photographer is allowed to reproduce his pictures and make them publicly available. This is part of the photographer's copyright. However, the photographer can grant others the right to do the same with the photos. These rights of use are granted through a license. And just like that, Facebook needs a license if it doesn't want to violate the photographer's copyrights in its “work”. By uploading to Facebook z. B. Copies of the pictures are made on Facebook servers around the world so that the photo can be accessed from anywhere at the same speed. This happens without any action on the part of the photographer and in terms of the functionality of Facebook - Facebook needs the right of reproduction for this.

In addition, the images are z. B. disseminated in previews so that Facebook makes the images publicly available - a license is also required for this. If Facebook were not granted a license, the image could not be distributed, shared or liked without Facebook violating copyright law.

Without this license, Facebook would violate the rights of the photographer, so it is what makes Facebook as we know it work in the first place.

What rights does Facebook get?

But what rights does Facebook get in detail? Facebook speaks of a "use" of the photos, but does not restrict the license to one type of use,
d. H. In theory, Facebook could use the photos to the same extent and in the same way as the photographer himself. This also means offline and for commercial purposes, e.g. B. Advertising. Of course, the photographer does not completely waive his rights. The license is expressly granted non-exclusively, i. H. the photographer can continue to use the photos for himself and also license them to other people.

Since the images can be called up worldwide and are stored on different servers, the license is of course also valid worldwide. Facebook also reserves the right to grant sublicenses and transfer the license. This makes sense if the Facebook platforms are operated by different Facebook companies in different regions of the world. However, the license basically allows Facebook to grant completely different companies the same rights as Facebook itself.

Overall, however, the license granted is neither particularly extensive nor unusual. Photo forums and other online photo services are very often granted similar licenses.

The license also provides a right of termination: it is simply terminated by the uploader deleting the photo. An extra termination is not necessary. From this point onwards, Facebook is no longer allowed to use the photo, either online or offline. And licenses issued to others also expire. The only exception: someone else shared the photo. The license then applies to the photo until the shared photo is also deleted. That is quite logical, after all, Facebook needs the license as long as the photo is available on Facebook. Alternatively, all shared content would otherwise have to be automatically deleted when the original uploader deletes the content. But that hardly fits into the idea of ​​a social network.

So Facebook has to obtain licenses for the uploaded photos in order not to violate the photographer's copyrights. Due to the right to cancel, it is also not very likely that Facebook will produce calendars and mugs with your photo in order to sell them on a large scale. At the latest when you delete the photo on Facebook, these articles would have to be pulped - after all, Facebook would no longer have a license to use the photos.

Of course, Facebook also earns money by uploading beautiful photos. But mainly because Facebook is becoming more attractive as a network and attracting even more users (with valuable data), not by using your photos in a disproportionate way. The scope of the license that Facebook has granted is not unusual and is understandable based on how Facebook works. Nevertheless, keep in mind that you are at least giving up the distribution of your photo by uploading it. After all, shared content cannot be easily deleted and the rights granted to it cannot be terminated so easily. However, it is not true that your photos would “belong” to Facebook after they were uploaded.

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