Do You Want CC In Facebook?

Yesterday, we posted about Facebook’s recent Terms of Service ordeal and how it demonstrates the need for human readable legal deeds. Now, Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, is asking the Facebook community for feedback on a Facebook Bill of Rights. We think this is a great opportunity for you, our community, to let Facebook know how the social network should use and license your content.

Do you think Facebook should support CC licensing options for user photos and other content? Now is the time to let them know. As of this post, the official group “Facebook Bill of Rights and Responsibilities” has almost 75,000 members and 800 topics on the discussion board, so don’t hesitate to make sure your voice gets heard. Also, relevant is Miguel Barrera Maureira’s group “Why not include Creative Commons in Facebook TOS?

22 thoughts on “Do You Want CC In Facebook?”

  1. I’ve just joined the group. Definitely adding support for Creative Commons on Facebook would be a great way for users to state what Facebook, it’s partners and other users can and cannot do with their contents. To get the conversation going I’ve also added a topic and a proposed mockup on what I think the UI should look like 🙂


  2. I feel that options to release content under the Creative Commons license is something that very naturally belongs in Facebook. Users are constantly sharing photos, videos, etc. through that service, much of which was never released on any other website. Not only is the Creative Commons license very human readable in its most basic form, it also has the same spirit of sharing as Facebook initially appeared to be carrying until media coverage appears displaying all the rights issues. I feel it would be a really good fix of Facebook’s reputation, “the right thing” to do.

  3. Seems like the smart choice for managing Rights. So many people already understand the model at Flickr.

    Easy to understand and fair for everyone.
    Thanks for stepping up. I’m also a member of the Facebook Group to push for CC.

  4. I was an early member to the TOS group, the BoRR group, and now the CC group.

    Yes, I want CC on Facebook.

    Due to Facebooks TOS language, I have not, from the time I joined over a year ago, ever used FB to post any original content.

    I like the CC licensing. If Facebook is willing to adopt CC licensing, it would open the door for me to begin using their service to share my creative works. Currently, I rarely use facebook. If the works I post there were covered by a CC license, I would be using it much more frequently.

    If Facebook is unwilling to change their terms and integrate cc licensing, I will most likely delete my profile.

  5. I’m in the same boat as Liberty; I don’t post content to Facebook because of their TOS. The mock-ups you posted on Flickr are great. I especially like that the cc-license applies to Facebook as well as all users. I wonder though if there would be a few problems:

    1) Would Facebook try to over-ride the cc-licenses in their own TOS, perhaps with something like “notwithstanding any stipulations under which a work is generally licensed, by posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant . . . to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license…”?

    2) Would Facebook have to stop using advertising as a revenue model? Currently, Facebook runs ads along the right-side of the pages. That arguably makes the use of any content on the site commercial. Is it feasible for Facebook to keep track of when User Content containing a nc license is on the page and not show ads on pages showing this content? That seems like an incredibly over-burdening task. Perhaps, if they did incorporate cc-licenses, they could include something in their TOS to the extent that “notwithstanding any non-commercial creative commons licenses on User Content, the Company may use all User Content posted to the site for commercial purposes in so far that these commercial purposes are restricted to including paid advertisements in an area of the site visible simultaneously with the User Content.”

  6. I am also curious about the consequences.

    What happens when I publish a photo on flickr or somewhere else under cc license and then upload it to facebook. Who wins, facebook ToS or CC license?

    Same is true for youtube. Their ToS also allows them to use the work of their users commercially without attribution or anything.

  7. @goldenrail and @ramon CC licenses are non-exclusive, so there would be no problem with Facebook using photos that are under a CC license under some other agreement, eg their ToS.

    A CC license would signal what could be done with photos outside of Facebook.

  8. If there would be possibility to use CC, it should be just an alternative for user keeping most of the rights himself/herself. Facebook shouldn’t force users to give permission to redistribute user’s content to 3rd party services. It would be more appreciate to have better protection for privacy than better protection for sharing the content. It’s difficult situation as Facebook needs to balance between reasonable rights to allow them to offer service (and run the business with the data) and still have even some sort of protection of privacy for users of service.

  9. The next logical step could be for Facebook to use a solution to use CC in their site just as Wikipedia does. They do not accept any CC licence you choose to use. They tell you what types of licences they agree with & don’t violate their economic/legal interests.

    At the end of the day, Facebook is just one HUGE AI social networking service that is making millions of bucks in user/marketing information. And most of their users don’t even care to be releasing information (personal information) for which they have all the rights to ask money as a retribution.

    I still don’t think the way Facebook handles its business is ethical and therefore wouldn’t like a CC licence used there. It will not help CC under utilitarian terms (of the millions of users around the world).

  10. The Facebook TOS state that Facebook can use any IP content we post. This is commercial use, so the Facebook TOS agreement effectively negates any NC licences. Installing applications also gives other entities free access to and use of your content, not limited to using it on Facebook only, without the obligation to stop using it if you end your licence agreement with Facebook.

    It seems to me that under these terms, a CC licence is rendered effectively irrelevant – on Facebook and beyond, if you ever run any apps. Note also that the terms apply for content posted “ON or IN CONNECTION WITH Facebook”

    A few questions, assuming that we apply a CC licence to our Facebook content:

    -Facebook can use user content commercially under the TOS. Does the same apply to third parties via applications, under the Facebook TOS?

    -It is implied that while Facebook is fully bound to use and stop using content in agreement with user privacy settings, third parties that are given access to that content under the Facebook TOS, are not. Is that valid?

  11. @Tas, thanks for your questions.

    The Facebook ToS is a little more specific than what you may be thinking — they reserve the non-exclusive rights to use your content within Facebook. Here’s what it says specifically:

    You own all of the content and information you post on Facebook, and you can control how it is shared through your privacy and application settings. In addition:

    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.

    So they’re reserving the rights to use it on or in connection with Facebook.

    Second, you can still use a NC license for content on Facebook that you’re sharing with other people. That is, even though Facebook may reserve rights that you consider commercial, an acquaintance of yours does not automatically inherit the rights of Facebook to your content. Remember, a CC license is between you the creator, and the public. So when you’re using a NC license, that means those are the terms that the general public has to your work, regardless of whatever other licenses you’ve made to it. Your private license agreement with Facebook (which you effectively enter by agreeing to their terms) is separate from that.

    So to attempt to answer your question, despite not being a lawyer (i.e., this is not legal advice), the Facebook ToS does not automatically grant 3rd parties rights to use your content.

    That, however, does not preclude a 3rd party from binding you to an additional agreement with them over your content when you install their app.

    Moreover, Facebook specifically allows 3rd party application developers to include their own ToS for each application.

    But that does not mean that any 3rd party application can simply grab your content — you have to install it and agree to its terms before you’re bound by that license.

    You also asked: It is implied that while Facebook is fully bound to use and stop using content in agreement with user privacy settings, third parties that are given access to that content under the Facebook TOS, are not. Is that valid?

    Again, it depends on the agreement that you enter into with the 3rd party. Most Apps will have a ToS that you have to agree to, and if you’re agreeing that they can keep using your content even after you’ve deleted your Facebook account, then they’ll probably assert that they have the right to do that.

    If, however, a 3rd party app developer merely asked you to release your work under a CC license that enabled their app to do what it needed to do, that might help clarify things for Facebook users.

    I hope that helps!


  12. Thanks Fred, this makes some things clearer.

    Still, most apps only inform you that you are allowing them to access your content and that you are agreeing to the Facebook TOS, nothing more than that. There are no application-specific terms (are there?). What happens then? Are they considered third parties or are they considered part of Facebook (seems to me not to be the case)? Are separate, app-specific terms mentioned somewhere else entirely?

  13. Hi @Tas,
    Yes, there are many application (and even Page-specific) Terms of Service.

    Take iLike’s Music application, for example, which has over 9 million Facebook installs:

    When you click the “Go to Application” box it will deliver you to a page asking if you want to install the app. At the bottom of the page is this text:

    By proceeding, you are allowing Music to access your information and you are agreeing to the Facebook Terms of Use in your use of Music. By using Music, you also agree to the Music Terms of Service.

    Which links here:

    Which are terms that iLike clearly intends to bind Facebook and Bebo users by.

    Every application developer has the ability to link to an external terms of service that shows up on the installation page, so I would imagine quite a few (especially the big ones) use this functionality.

  14. Hi Fred,

    What about the applications – in my experience most of them – that don’t link to any terms or agreements? The Creative Commons Licence application for example 😉

    Is it an oversight on Facebook’s part to allow applications that do not include clear terms of service? And what terms do apply in this case? Since no terms are specified (unless they are actually hidden from users), will a Creative Commons license apply to how these applications can use user content or do the umbrella Facebook TOS apply – in which case the CC licence becomes irrelevant?

    Sorry to ask so many questions – any help appreciated! I am trying to make them as clear as i can. I think others would like to know such things too.

  15. Diggin the idea here. It’s about getting things straight. Facebook’s a tool. We’re the creators. Hands off our content! I recently stumbled upon Unthink and am wondering what your thoughts are from the CC perspective.

    On another note, I am in the process of developing a legal research topic (yeah, another unfortunate law student I suppose) and have been exploring FB’s assumption of user’s copyright interests (through the ToS and extensive license granted).

    Wondering if anyone had thoughts on a direction for research. There’s a lot being said on IP and this digital life stuff, and I’m finding it difficult to add to the conversation in a meaningful way/ keep up with it all!


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