Monday, November 26, 2012

Facebook and your copyright


Image from
For a few months now, I have been seeing my FB friends posting statuses announcing their IP rights over their content on FB. Being a lawyer that delves in IP on a miniscule level, these statuses raised my eyebrows... 

Different versions of similar "Data Privacy Notice" statuses floated around FB, but this is the recent one I have come across:

"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 Berne Convention). For commercial use of the above my written consent is needed at all times!

(Anyone reading this can copy this text and paste it on their Facebook Wall. This will place them under protection of copyright laws. By the present communiqué, I notify Facebook that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, disseminate, or take any other action against me on the basis of this profile and/or its contents. The aforementioned prohibited actions also apply to employees, students, agents and/or any staff under Facebook's direction or control. The content of this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of my privacy is punished by law (UCC 1 1-308-308 1-103 and the Rome Statute).

Facebook is now an open capital entity. All members are recommended to publish a notice like this, or if you prefer, you may copy and paste this version. If you do not publish a statement at least once, you will be tacitly allowing the use of elements such as your photos as well as the information contained in your profile status updates.

Long message! Phew! Big words too!

First thing first, the premise on which this status update is built is wrong. Public entity (or any entity, for that matter) has nothing to do with copyright laws. Also, UCC 1 1-308-308 1-103 is irrelevant here, it is usually incorrectly used believing that citing it in a notice would confer one to invoke extraordinary legal rights.  

The immediate questions that popped in my head was :

If you agreed to the 'Data Use' terms and conditions of the agreement while you signed up on FB, would a status message help? It sounds a 'fragile' attempt, at best.

And secondly, what exactly does the FB agreement say?

Truly, like all normal people (lawyers are pretty normal), I don't bother reading agreements (I read enough at work!). But like most websites, FB is transparent enough to let us see the T&C at any time.

So, what exactly are the new Facebook guidelines? I don't know.What I do know is the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities that you signed with FB, that has been last revised on June 08, 2012... Sure, we don't read those long agreements before clicking the 'I accept' button, but let's back-track... the same can be found here.

Accordingly, Clause 2, at first, says : "You own all of the content and information you post on Facebook"

Very well. That translates that I am the owner of my content and I can use it in any way I want! 

But beware of what follows:

Clause 2.1:

"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."

Hahah! FB caught you off-guard! Though you are owner of your artistic and literary work, as soon as you post it on FB, you give them permission to use in whatsoever way they want. Unfortunately, I cannot fathom what "use" will comprise of, it's too broad a term, but it would certainly include sharing your data with third party, for example, FB selling info to advertisers.

Now, I know sharing your info to third parties without you knowing it sounds immoral but don't take it too hard. I see it as a win-win situation. Okay, agreed, FB is in a slightly better position with this clause in place, but you also gain by posting your work on a social media platform this huge. You reach out better to people, your work is seen, heard and appreciated. You would agree that FB makes life easier for us artists. It gives us a good platform to show-case. Whether it is clicking photographs or uploading a painting or just a note like this one, you would agree FB is a powerful tool to reach out. And, best part: it's free!!

Of course, with some gain come some losses. Here, the loss might be that you are at risk of FB using your creations in any way and not giving you a penny as royalty, but dude, YOU signed the agreement! It is assumed you read the risks, understood and then accepted the agreement. 

Good news is: FB has not asked you to waive off your moral rights. Simply put, moral rights (Article 6bis, Berne Convention) are your (1) Right to claim authorship of your work and (2) Right against distortion, modification or mutilation of your work such that it prejudices your reputation.

So, people, the ball’s really on your court. You cannot change the agreement you signed retrospectively by putting up status updates on your copyright. If you value your creativity to the extent that you sign Confidential Agreements to every second party, then FB is not right for you.

Or, you wait till the policy change. Many times, FB allows public to put forward their opinions before implementing new policies, maybe you can participate in such polls.

You may delete the account, but that doesn’t really make much sense since FB says it retains the data for reasonable period of time even after the account is deleted.

Or the best simple solution, don't post! ;) :D

So, here I shed some light. Don’t fall for such hoax.

Also, a nice little piece I found on this topic can be read here.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Free! Free! Free!

As the famous saying goes, "The best things in life are free", the last weekend has been a very good weekend made better with freebies!

First, a free lunch by a friend who dropped in for a weekend in Bangalore and second, a free music concert.

The last time my dear friend, Nilutpal, came to town, I had to 'treat' him for numerous reasons that he had summed up. This time around, it was payback time and he had no respite! He has recently ventured into business and he has been seeing good results. Cheers to that! and off we went to this restaurant that I had been meaning to visit but for some or the other reason couldn't make it: Pizzeria Romano.

I had read rave reviews of the restaurant and it was on my list of "want-to-visit" places for nearly a year and a half. When I finally went there, I was not at all disappointed.

Neat and Nice
I totally absorbed their interiors, especially the posters of films and portraits of artists on the walls surrounding the staircase. If you are a movie buff or a music buff, you will love it. And if you are a foodie, you might wanna marry the chef.

We ordered two mocktails: watermelon and strawberry based: and both turned out delicious. We also order a pork rib steak that was very juicy. The texture of the mashed potatoes was unlike any mashed potatoes ever tasted, different and full of flavour.

Pork-Ribs Steak... yum!

We also ordered a Four Seasons Pizza which was hand-stretched into a thin crust. A few slices of it and we were so full that we packed the rest of it.

Hand-stretched Pizza

Lunching with Slash and Elvis... no big deal!

On the walls of the staircase... good utilisation of space

Good thing we packed that pizza! When our friends arrived at the concert venue in the evening, they were more than happy to hog!

By the way, this concert, named 'Sadbhavana concert' was organised by North East Welfare Association of Karnataka and Bangalore City Police to foster peace and ... music 'course! I think the passes were free; in any case, mine were taken care of by my friends.

The Adugodi police grounds, undertaken for the concert, was huge and the turnout was pretty decent. The atmosphere was that of fun. Laughter and music, people of all ages, music of different genre, friends!

In the beginning, a tribute was paid to the Lt.Dr.Bhupen Hazarika which was a good start. Then, Joi Barua performed songs in Hindi, English and Assamese, there was also Jankee Parekh who performed 'Iktara' (Wake-up Sid) and then, there was Lucky Ali!

Joi Barua and Janki Parekh

Lucky Ali onstage
Lucky Ali songs are reminiscent of teenage years and it was a very nostalgic feeling to listen to them after years, live. I surprised myself, I remember many of his songs and lyrics even though I have never consciously listened to Lucky Ali since the end of high-school.

As I say, unplanned plans are the best plans. This Sunday was one such days when everything went perfect. And two things that I longed to do in Bangalore in this final year was ticked off:
  • Went to Pizzeria Romano
  • Went to a Music Concert

To that, I can add:
  • Eating Pizza on a Police Parade Ground
  • Singing aloud while the cop nearby slightly head-bangs!

Bangalore, Thank you for such 'free' days! 

Dance like no-one's watching

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