By reading this series and using this website, you agree to my Terms of Service and acknowledge that this is not legal advice but for informational purposes only. If you are a Colorado business with an online presence, please contact me, Elizabeth Lewis, your online business attorney for more information about how you need to structure your business, what you need to do to make sure your website complies with all the laws and protects you, and for all your business needs at 720-258-6647 or Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com.
The fourth section of the Facebook’s TOS deals with proprietary rights and licenses to it. When a company designs a site, most of the time they have a copyright for the site’s design, contents, and other parts of it.* This gives them an exclusive right to decide who can use this information. In Facebook’s case, the company, through its TOS, gives the user a limited license to use its copyright. Facebook says that you cannot modify, distribute or alter, among other things, anything on its site for any reason except that you can download or print a copy of information you have accessed for your own personal use as long as you keep any copyright information on the information intact. However, unless it is your own material, you may not redistribute or republish this information. Facebook reserves the right to change or the license at any point in time for any reason. Facebook also includes additional information about what you can and can’t do with the information which can be found in its TOS but is not discussed here due to space constraints.
The fifth section of Facebook’s TOS deals with trademarks. It basically states it owns a whole bunch of trademarks and that you can’t use them without written permission from the company. This is typical of many TOS.
What does this mean to the average user? Not a lot. You can make a copy of your profile, copy the pictures your aunt posted on there of you as a kid for personal use, or view you best friend’s wedding pictures (if you have access to them). You cannot sell this information, post it on your website (unless you get copies of the original photos or documents and permission from the owner of them first), or use Facebook’s software or trademarks for any other use not allowed in the TOS.
What does this mean if you have a business with a website? You should talk to an attorney about whether you should give the end user any rights, and if so, what rights you should give them. Every site is different and what works for Facebook may not work for you.
If you have questions about whether your use of information from Facebook’s site violates the TOS, need a terms of service for your website, or have questions about doing stuff online in general, please contact me, Elizabeth Lewis, your business attorney at 720-258-6647 or Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com.
* A company may also have other intellectual property rights for a site such as patents or trademarks. In this series, I will not be discussing the different types of IP rights or in what cases you should use them. For more information about specific intellectual property questions, please consult your attorney or call me.