I hate to be the harbinger of neutral and effect-less news, but unless you’re doing some kind of really hush-hush, time sensitive, top secret, scientifically significant, or otherwise earth-shakeingly meaningful new theoretical construct… then having your daily posts and pics of nieces and their puppies are not the kind of thing that most people are going to lift, steal, publish or otherwise infringe upon. Copyright is for creative works in all media, and original editorial and persuasive writings and images. Copyright is a word used in litigation — and in threats of litigation.
The girl who was photographed (underage) flashing a a crowd in a Mardi Gras parade — and ended up forever pasted on the box of every “Girls Gone Wild” video spit into the sewers of popular American culture — won her case recently, but it had nothing to do with owning her own image — which is one legal issue; or with ownership of the rights (because of copyright) to those photographs — which is another legal issue. She won because she was not old enough to give consent to use those images. So it wasn’t copyright that was at issue, it was that she was under the legal- absolute age to be giving permission to adorn millions of video boxes with her bouncing tits. In effect, that photographer won her case for her before the first pic was ever published — just by taking her picture. Regardless of the photographer’s intent, or who paid what to which — nobody has the right to take a naked child’s photograph and publish it — with the possible exception of National Geographic, and who knows what their legal wavers are like.
Similarly — we have seen time and again that issues of copyright, trademark, and patent are the work of litigators. And for most of us –it really doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. It’s only after money is involved — or someone’s pride, or pride in ownership, or pride in creation — that the legalities of creativity are ever a question.
And most of what floats by on Facebook has very little to do with creativity, pride, or $$$. It’s just talk. And sharing ideas. And sharing photos of the cat stranded on top of the ceiling fan.
If you are developing a new, better mousetrap or polio vaccine — then don’t post it. But if you took a really beautiful photo of the sun setting over Madagascar — or even the sun setting over a movie theater playing Madagascar — then what difference does it make if somebody else likes it enough to want to show others?
As far as I am concerned — the more good ideas get passed around and the more humor and clever art that gets shared — the better off we all are. Yes, photographers, writers and artists have to make a living. But the structure of compensation has already changed so much that the old rules are gone forever. Every one of us is now a published photographer, writer, editor, and illustrator. So don’t let people tell you the old copyright rules still work — because they don’t.
Facebook, and 100,000,000 other entities are making up the new rules as we go. And each of these changes to the legal language and policy positions that Facebook, Twitter, Google, Apple, Amazon, and all the other mass media mods publish is just one more tweak in a very long train of tweaks. Law is a living thing — and we are the cells that combine to make up that entity. So — get used to it. Get over it. Get on with it.
Here’s further reading on the current shifts — well done! :