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Monday, January 26, 2015

Facebook and The Artist. Important Info.

You need to read this if you are an Artist using Facebook.

Many of you who follow my blog are artists, and if you are using Facebook as a tool, you will want to read this.  Yes, it's long, a couple of letters, but it gives you great, accurate info about the changes to Facebook that take place Jan 30th.  Read on.....

Letter from the President of American Women Artists: Facebook changes will impact the way you use social media for art marketing

Dear AWA members,

For many of us, Facebook is an important (free!) marketing tool for unveiling new work or launching invitations to shows and workshops.  All that may be about to change with their new Terms of Service, which go into effect January 30, 2015.  

In response to the new service terms, I've seen many artists post (or repost) statements of copyright ownership which they claim will to go into effect along with the new Terms of Service. I asked my son, who is a practicing attorney in California, to give us the legal perspective and definitive last word on Facebook and Copyright in his article below.
Beyond the copyright issue, Facebook's new Terms of Service will change the way you use social media to operate as a small business and market your art.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Facebook now wants all small business owners and entrepreneurs (like us) to pay to promote things like new work for sale, workshops, shows, etc.  By the end of January, Facebook's algorithms will supposedly be filtering out promotional announcements so that even though you post it to your page, if it's determined to be promotional, it will simply disappear from the newsfeeds. 
Artists occupy a unique niche in the Facebook world - often times we're just sharing a work-in-progress or a newly finished piece.  It remains to be seen just how Facebook will phase out our "promotional posts." After all, how would Facebook be able to identify us as professional artists when we could just be avid hobbyists, right?

Yeah, well...about that: most of us self-identified as professional artists when we participated in the well-timed "Three for Five" challenge.  By posting three works a day for five days in a row, we publicly established a comprehensive body of work while identifying five fellow artists as we called upon them to participate as well.  You can bet that by now, Facebook has a pretty good idea who we are.
Keep us posted as the new Terms of Service go into effect and let us know how your Facebook marketing evolves. Over the course of the coming year, we'll be exploring how artists can use other social media avenues like InstagramTwitter and Pinterest as part of their marketing plan.  We'll also have a tutorial on how to get yourself on Wikipedia.  

Best wishes for an artful and productive new year!

Kathrine Lemke Waste
President, American Women Artists

Are Facebook Copyright Proclamations Necessary?
by J. Jackson Waste, Attorney, Baker, Manock and Jensen, Fresno, CA

You've probably seen and perhaps re-posted the latest copyright protection announcement currently making the rounds on Facebook:

Due to the fact that Facebook has chosen to involve software that will allow the theft of my personal information, I do declare the following: On this day, 30th of January 2015, in response to the new Facebook guidelines and under articles L.111, 112 and 113 of the code of intellectual property, I declare that my rights are attached to all my personal data, drawings, paintings, photos, texts etc... published on my profile. For commercial use of the foregoing my written consent is required at all times. Those reading this text can copy it and paste it on their Facebook wall. This will allow them to place themselves under the protection of copyright. By this release, I tell Facebook that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, broadcast, or to take any other action against me on the basis of this profile and/or its contents. The actions mentioned above apply equally to employees, students, agents and/or other staff under the direction of Facebook.

The contents of my profile include private information. The violation of my privacy is punished by the law (UCC
1 1-308-3081-103
1 1-308-3081-1 and the Rome Statute). Facebook is now an open capital entity. All members are invited to post a notice of this kind, or if you prefer, you can copy and paste this version. If you have not published this statement at least once, you will tacitly allow the use of elements such as your photos as well as the information contained in your profile update.

This statement is pure hogwash. Don't waste a minute of your time posting it on your Facebook page. 

Most of the law cited in the provision is completely inapplicable.  The "Code of Intellectual Property" appears to be a set of French statutes, and the Rome Statute is the treaty which established the International Criminal Court and which has nothing whatsoever to do with your Facebook pictures.You continue to own your intellectual property, but the act of posting your pictures on Facebook grants Facebook a license to use those photos.

Facebook's terms and conditions - that text-filled screen where you probably clicked "agree" without reading when you made your Facebook account - is the agreement that governs your interactions with Facebook.  This cannot be altered by posting a proclamation on your wall.  Facebook's "Statement of Rights and Responsibilities" provides as follows:

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.[1]

In other words, by posting a photo to Facebook, you agree, in effect, that they have a license to use that photo for as long as that photo remains on Facebook.  This agreement cannot be changed by posting any magic words about copyright ownership. 

So you can feel free to ignore the last portion of the scurrilous copyright notice, which ominously claims that "if you have not published this statement at least once, you will tacitly allow the use of elements such as your photos as well as the information contained in your profile update."  This is about as serious as an old AOL chain letter promising ten years of bad luck if you don't forward to twenty people. 

If you want to protect your intellectual property online, the best bet is to consult with an attorney who can help you develop a coherent, legally effective strategy for protecting your online art in the digital age.

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