This is a follow up article to Startup Social Media: the Good, the Bad & the Ugly.
Oh dear, Kyle and Jackie O are in the news – again. But this time we can ALL learn a little more about the legal ins-and-outs of Social Media accounts. Here’s the background.
Kyle and Jackie O trademarked their ‘brand’ a few years ago. Although they are essentially a radio show, the radio show broadcaster (Southern Cross Austereo) couldn’t trademark the brand because they didn’t own it. You can only trademark something if you own it.
Instead Austereo had to license the brand from Kyle and Jackie O. Essentially they re-assigned the brand to Austereo. But did that include the Facebook page content and over 200,000 followers?
And that’s the issue that has Kyle, Jackie O and Austereo in court.
Your Social Media policy should define content ownership
The fact that this is an issue shows that Austereo didn’t include ownership of the Facebook page and followers in their licensing agreement with Kyle and Jackie O.
I’m sure that Austereo feels that as Kyle and Jackie O were employees at the time then they should own what was developed during their time as employees – including the Facebook page. Further, since they essentially owned the brand at the time too, then it’s likely they have the rights to the Facebook page unless there is an agreement to the contrary.
The lesson for all business owners is to have a Social Media policy and explicitly state that all content and followers remain the property of the business.
Do you really ever own your Social Media content?
Have you read Facebook’s terms? There are 8 pages of them! Ever wondered what was in the fine print of your favourite Social Media site? It’s not pretty.
- Facebook states that they do not delete member content, even after you delete your account. And that by using Facebook you have granted them a licence to use your content for an undetermined period.
- Twitter grants themselves broad rights over your content. They can change and distribute anything you post and they have a licence to pass your content onto any partner organisation they choose.
- LinkedIn also makes broad claims stating that they can “copy, prepare derivative works of, etc.” user content and all data and concepts that pass through the LinkedIn service.
- Instagram had to change their terms after they had an outcry from users when they changed their terms to state that they had rights to use members’ photos for ad campaigns!
Essentially these Social Media services are saying that you own your content but that they do too. And they can use it as they like, wherever they like. It does seem amazing that they have such broad terms – and have made them so difficult to read and relied on the fact that you’re unlikely to have read them.
Most users just want access to the Social Media service, so they can interact with their friends, family and colleagues. They don’t really care who owns the content or what the terms say.
Just bear this in mind when you start your Social Media business promotion – particularly if you’re a photographer or designer. You have just granted a free world-wide licence!