All your copyright are belong to Facebook

Sorry Charlie, you can't keep Facebook from sharing your stuff by posting a copyright notice to your wall. All it will do is annoy friends who know better.


It’s baaa-ack. Another harmless but annoying hoax that began circulating last May has returned. Thousands, possibly millions, of Facebook users have been duped into posting a bogus assertion of copyrights on their walls. It looks something like this:

In response to the new Facebook guidelines, I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details contained in my personal and business profiles, including, but not limited to: all postings, status updates, comments, illustrations, paintings, drawings, art, photographs, music, videos, etc. as per the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, (a/k/a the Berne Convention). For commercial use of any of the above, my written consent is required in each instance and at all times.

The post then goes on to cite the Uniform Commercial Code and other legal statutes. It’s all very official sounding. However, that statement is not worth the paper it’s not printed on. Posting it to your wall might make you feel better, but it has no legal impact on Facebook whatsoever.

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First: When you signed on to Facebook, you agreed to its terms and conditions. You can’t change those terms and conditions unilaterally, and you certainly can’t change them by posting something to your wall.

Second: If, by some miracle, posting that statement on your wall did prevent Facebook from sharing anything you post, Facebook would no longer be able to operate because that’s what Facebook does. It’s really all Facebook is about – letting you share content with other people. Posting that statement is a bit like agreeing to appear on a TV show so long as your face, body, or voice aren’t used. Kind of pointless.

As Snopes notes, that statement or one like it began circulating shortly after Facebook’s IPO last May. I have no idea why it’s suddenly resurfacing now. This is apparently resurfacing now due to changes to Facebook's governing documents proposed last week by Facebook veep Elliot Schrage, which are pretty minimal in terms of user privacy.

In fact, here’s what Facebook’s terms do say about the matter.

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