Sharing content on Facebook: the pros and cons

Facebook can be a great tool to gain exposure for your work or to share it with friends, but this accessibility can bring various copyright issues.

Daniel Uria/Staff Writer

As an artist, Facebook can be a great tool to gain exposure for your work or simply share it with your friends. But with this exposure and accessibility comes various copyright issues.

Junior Katelyn Ocampo, does sketches and special effects makeup and uses Facebook to share her work with her friends.

“I usually post my work on Facebook for fun, it’s nothing too serious since it’s just a hobby that I’ve been trying to master for quite some time.” she said.

Even though Ocampo’s art is a hobby, when dealing with Facebook, there’s still an economic aspect to the use of her work or the work of others. Facebook’s terms of service agreement states that, while users do in fact own all content and information they post, through privacy and application settings the users grant Facebook 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).”

While the license ends when either the content or the creators profile is deleted the terms of service also state that it will continue if the content had been shared with others who have not deleted it.

Frederick Blevens, a professor in FIU’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, who teaches media law and ethics, said that since these terms are clearly stated they are difficult to get around.

“The bottom line is if you sign on for a Facebook account part of the agreement that you make allows them, to do that,” he said. “And whether fair, or unfair you’re bound to it.”

But Facebook itself isn’t the only entity that artists need to protect their work from. Each individual member of the vast Facebook community could possibly copy or misuse another user’s work. This said, there are several ways to protect work from theft such as altering privacy settings to control who can view content, or using watermarks or other signatures to signify ownership.

Unfortunately, these practices can limit the audience and compromise the integrity of the work but Ocampo and Blevens provide some helpful alternatives.

Ocampo provides an alternative to watermarks, which she finds to be “to bulky and tacky for my taste.”

“I’d include a small watermark/signature in each drawing, something similar to the way Caravaggio use to do his paintings where he would sign his name with blood or how Whistler would drawing a butterfly as his signature. Something that doesn’t take away from the pieces,” she said.

Blevens also provides a way to get the same exposure from posting content directly to Facebook without forfeiting any ownership to them.

“A way to do that would be to create your own website, post [your content] there and share the link on Facebook,” Blevens said.

This way just as many people can see a user’s work and Facebook would not lay claim to any royalties.

But ultimately, Blevens says, the best way to protect yourself and your artwork is to file for an official copyright, “I would just advise people who are creative and who produce protectable work, to go get it protected. There’s some statement in your sincerity by asserting yourself and going and paying the $35.”