Facebooks Terms Of Use Explained to a Photographer

Chances are that if you’re reading this posting that you are a photographer and use Facebook. Why not? It’s a great tool to use for your business. However, many photographers and people that know photographers don’t read Facebook’s Terms of Use. The reason for this—too much to read and not enough understanding of what it means. As a former college radio president, I’m used to reading through such terms of content use and even creating them. That said, here’s what Facebook’s Terms of Use mean.


Areas in Question:

This is Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. An area in question is section 2 that states:

  • Sharing Your Content and InformationYou own all of the content and information you post on Facebook, and you can control how it is shared through your privacy and application settings. In addition:
    1. For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (“IP content”), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use 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 it.
    2. When you delete IP content, it is deleted in a manner similar to emptying the recycle bin on a computer. However, you understand that removed content may persist in backup copies for a reasonable period of time (but will not be available to others).
    3. When you use an application, your content and information is shared with the application.  We require applications to respect your privacy, and your agreement with that application will control how the application can use, store, and transfer that content and information.  (To learn more about Platform, read our Privacy Policy and About Platform page.)
    4. When you publish content or information using the “everyone” setting, it means that you are allowing everyone, including people off of Facebook, to access and use that information, and to associate it with you (i.e., your name and profile picture).
    5. We always appreciate your feedback or other suggestions about Facebook, but you understand that we may use them without any obligation to compensate you for them (just as you have no obligation to offer them).

    This means that if you are uploading photos to Facebook, you own them. Once again, YOU OWN THEM. Even if you don’t own them, the process of you uploading them is telling Facebook that you own them. Further, you also are giving Facebook the right to do whatever they want to with them.

    Now keep reading, it states that when you delete your content that it is in a similar fashion to clearing out the recycling bin on your desktop. However, Facebook can have copies backup up on Hard Drives. For their own protection, Facebook will keep these in case of any law suits that may arise for later on. These law suits may perhaps be from content theft or anything else such as stalking or child pornography.

    It also says that your photos being licensed to them ends when you delete your content. That’s all fine and dandy until you keep reading to where it says that this is only if the content wasn’t shared with anyone. This is evident in part 4. With the way that Facebook works, all your content and anything you do is always shared unless you make it private and not accessible to anyone.

    So is it all bad? No—you can take measures to protect your intellectual property if someone happens to come along, rip all the photos off your site and publish them for themselves just because they can.

    If you have any problems, you can appeal to Facebook for Copyright Infringement. First off, you need to report it. Both of these essentially just require filling out forms. It is, for the most part, the same process that many major companies have to do when they surf YouTube to ensure that their content is not being used without permission or purchase.

    You, as the photographer, are no different. Why not be paid for your content swimming out through the internet.

    Another good tip is to always put your name in the copyright information and the EXIF data at all times. On top of that, Google yourself often and the things you shoot. For example, the opening photo of this story is from the Lightsaber Battle put on by NewMindSpace in NYC. If I wanted to find the photo then I’d have to type into Google, “Lightsaber Battle NewMindSpace NYC Chris Gampat” or something along the lines. Because of the fact that I named the image with those words and my copyright information is in the EXIF data, the images will be found.

    To that end, naming your photos with custom names is always also a great idea. It will allow you to not only track your photos easier but also help them appear in the search results that you want.

  • Chris Gampat

    Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.