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Despite rumors, Facebook owns user rights

November 28, 2012

For the past week, Facebook has been buzzing with posts about users’ rights to their comments and photos, as some people have posted statuses stating Facebook does not have the right to use their private property.

But despite users’ attempts at lawyering, such statuses do little more than clog their friends’ news feeds, legal experts say.
According to Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, or SRR, the site has the rights to users’ intellectual property, or IP.

“You grant us a nonexclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook,” Facebook’s policy states. “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 it.”

When users create a Facebook account, they agree to these terms and might find it difficult to combat the policy later in court, said Adam Candeub, professor and director of the Intellectual Property, Information & Communications Law Program at MSU.

“If you post something on Facebook, you’re giving the right to Facebook to use it,” he said. “Even though you retain a copyright, Facebook retains the right to do what they want to do with it.”

In response to statuses posted in the past few days stating Facebook does not have permission to share users’ content, Candeub said the statuses likely would not be effective in warding off Facebook from accessing their IP.

“Most likely a court would say, ‘Look, if you use Facebook, you accept the terms and conditions; the act of using Facebook makes you secede to the contract,’” Candeub said.

Marketing senior Walter Knapp said he has seen many status updates during the past week arguing Facebook does not have the rights to users’ content.

Before he heard about Facebook’s SRR during an interview with The State News, he was under the impression that Facebook did not have the right to publish or access users’ posts.

“It’s an effective website, but the crazier and more intertwined it gets makes you rethink if you want to be a part of the Facebook community,” Knapp said.

He said he suspects most users don’t read the fine print when accepting the website’s terms of agreement.

“I don’t like it, but it’s Facebook’s party; and we’re just all kind of attending it — we’re kind of there; they’re in charge,” Knapp said.

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