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Thousands of Facebook users have fallen foul of an apparent hoax message that claims to protect users’ copyright.
In a statement posted on the homepage of some of the social media site’s users, there is a declaration that “my copyright is attached to all of my personal details”.
The full text says: “In response to the new Facebook guidelines, I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, comics, paintings, professional photos and videos, etc (as a result of the Berner [sic] Convention). For commercial use of the above my written consent is needed at all times.”
The reference to the Berner Convention is thought to be a reference to the Berne Convention, an international agreement between 168 countries that protects literary and artistic works.
Facebook's spokesman, Andrew Noyes, told the BBC news website that under Facebook’s terms and conditions the company has the right to share and distribute users’ content but that this can be altered in their privacy settings.
Phil Sherrell, a partner at law firm Bird & Bird, told TBO that the hoax’s success showed that many users of social media continue to have “little understanding of the legal environment” that applies to them, and pay little or no attention to terms and conditions.
“In this case Facebook aren't seeking to own the copyright in content posted on its service, so in fact the notice wasn't needed. But even if Facebook's terms did require users to assign copyright, a notice like this wouldn't work because the users would already have accepted the terms.”
Facebook did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
But, on its own frequently asked questions section, in response to whether users retain copyright to their posts, it states: “Yes, you retain the copyright to your content. When you upload your content, you grant us a licence to use and display that content.”
Sherrell added: “The UK Copyright Hub and or the UK Intellectual Property Office's new copyright notices providing basic copyright guidance might perhaps have a role to play in educating the public going forward."
Facebook, copyright, privacy, social media,