Copyright, the Berne Convention & Social Media

November 26, 2012

As I completed my most recent post on the misuse of UCC-1 308 as a means to protect one’s privacy with regard to social media, I found that the previous BS had been supplanted by the addition of a copyright warning purporting to be ‘pursuant to the terms of the Berne Convention.’

C’mon people … even the simplest among us should be able to Google or Bing or SOMETHING to determine the veracity of information before succumbing to the sheeple-mind and mindlessly re-posting.

See my post on UCC-1 308 about privacy and then read the following about copyright … yes, I am something of an expert on the issue. With the assistance of Mitchell Goldstein, I successfully protected my intellectual property and copyright under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act or DMCA against four (4) different entities. (I’ll post those stories another day…)

Let me break this down for you …

To restate (what should be obvious by now) when you join Facebook, or any other social media site, you agree to their terms and conditions (Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities). If, for some reason, you do not like their terms, don’t create an account. It’s that simple.

Everything you ever wanted to know about copyright – well, probably more than you wanted to know  – can be found at the Cornell University Law School Legal Information Institute (LII) – see Copyright: An Overview.

From NOLO’s Plain English Law Dictionary:

Copyright rights are acquired automatically once the work is fixed in a tangible medium of expression.

Simply stated, if it is your original copy/content/creation – it is yours. It doesn’t matter if it is posted to Facebook, on your blog, LinkedIn, or other social medium. The original creator is the copyright holder of that information. To quote the folks at

Under International copyright law (most notably the Berne Convention) and also under the domestic copyright law of nearly every country in the industrialised world, Facebook, nor any other third party, can commit copyright infringement on your original content, regardless of whether a legal-sounding psuedo-disclaimer is posted or not.

Ah yes, the Berne Convention, you can go to LII for the full text or, hit up Wikipedia for the Cliff’s notes version …

To quote my dear friend Kathy Biehl (lawyer, freelance writer and “Professional Aquarian”):

The workaround for the problem that’s freaking people out is to change the privacy settings on the photos and original work you care about so they are NOT public.

So, folks, let’s stop cluttering the interwebs with useless psuedo-legal babble … s’alright?!

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