No, Facebook Does Not Own Your Images

No, Facebook Does Not Own Your Images

It seems that a nasty little rumor has suddenly taken the world by storm. Namely that once you upload a photo to Facebook, according to their terms of service, it becomes their property. Thanks to an official message from Facebook we can rest assured that this is not the case.

According to Pop Photo, the rumor likely originated from an article on the website Stop Stealing Photos. The article focuses on an official looking email sent by Mandy W., a Facebook sales rep that reads in part:

…Once something is posted or uploaded onto Facebook it becomes Facebook’s property. So if the original photographer uploaded the photo first onto Facebook and then others have taken it from there and uploaded it to their pages or profiles, this is legal and within policy, there’s nothing I can do about it unfortunately even if they are taking credit for the photos.

Of course the message came as quite a bit of a shock to the author (you can read the full message on Stop Stealing Photos).

Fortunately for us, though, Facebook quickly responded with a PSA which reads:

The information given in these emails is incorrect. Our terms are clear that you own the content you share on Facebook, including photos. When you post something, you simply grant Facebook a license to use that content consistent with our terms, including displaying it to the audience you’ve shared it with.”

In addition, we prohibit people from posting content that violates someone else’s intellectual property rights. If a rights owner believes that content on Facebook violates their rights, they may report it to us. Upon notice, we stand ready to respond including by removing the content from Facebook.

After reading that, the internet took a collective relieved sigh. Further reinforcing the Facebook PSA is the following line taken directly from the Facebook TOS:

You 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.

There is, of course, still risk of theft and misuse posting an image to any platform (including your own website). It's always best to be cognizant of any potential weaknesses, security risks, and downfalls of sharing an image before you do.

[via Pop Photo and Stop Stealing Photos]

Austin Rogers's picture

Austin Rogers joined Fstoppers in 2014. Austin is a Columbus, OH editorial and lifestyle photographer, menswear aficionado, pseudo-bohemian, and semi-luddite. To keep up with him be sure to check out his profile on Fstoppers, website, drop him a line on Facebook, or throw him a follow on his fledgling Instagram account.

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they don't own your photo but they claim the right to do whatever they want with it, consistent with their comforting...

- and that includes giving or selling the rights to use the image to others ("transfer, sub-license" from their terms), so no, they don't own the copyright but they can act EXACTLY as if they do.

this obviously didn't stop mr rogers, facebook's apologist, from trying to pacify the fstoppers population...had the author checked his facts before posting this, the article wouldn't have been written in the first place...

It's so simple - Individual profiles/pages are micro sites that live on the Facebook network (They have unique addresses). Facebook needs you to grant permission for them to share your images etc across the 'sites' that are on the network. If I post a picture exclusively on Facebook it can be shared across that network, as per my settings, but someone cannot take it off of Facebook and share it on another network/social site.Only I can do that because it is my picture. You can share a link on G+, Tumblr, etc,to my Facebook post but not the picture. That would violate the terms of service.

Simon, unfortunately it is not that simple.

The problem is the part about sub-licensing - that basically gives Facebook the right to license your images to another entity with the same or less rights that you already granted them (royalty-free, worldwide, non-exclusive) without your knowledge nor your consent.

Do Facebook do this right now? I don't know, but they have been known to use images taken from Facebook in their advertising, and that would probably require that they sub-license the images to the advertising bureau.

Could they start sub-licensing your images to other companies tomorrow? Legally, yes. The uproar would be gigantic, but they could.