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Social Media’s Unintentional Effect on Intellectual Property; or “Bitches Be Stealin’ Shit”

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Social media has been a boon for aspiring writers. What better way to get yourself marketed than by utilizing Facebook, Twitter, and even Pinterest? Unfortunately, since anyone can use social media, there are many people that are not sophisticated about a little thing called intellectual property.

According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, “A Copyright is a form of protection provided to the authors of ‘original works of authorship’ including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works, both published and unpublished. The 1976 Copyright Act generally gives the owner of copyright the exclusive right to reproduce the copyrighted work, to prepare derivative works, to distribute copies or phone records of the copyrighted work, to perform the copyrighted work publicly, or to display the copyrighted work publicly.”

But why am I telling you this?

Well, it seems there are a vast number of Facebook sites that are created with the sole purpose of posting inspirational pictures and quotes about disabilities. That’s really nice, right? It would seem so, but it’s not so nice when these sites put up a majority of pictures and quotes that they’ve taken from other pages. Now, it’s one thing to hit that little “share” button you see at the bottom of a post, but it’s another thing entirely to right-click, save to your computer or device, navigate to your own FB page, and then upload that image. Whether it has the owner’s name on it or not, it doesn’t matter. It’s still considered theft of intellectual property.

You can even find Facebook’s policies about intellectual property by doing a simple search. I did it for you:

Sharing Your Content and Information
 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.
  2. When you delete IP content, it is deleted in a manner similar to emptying the recycle bin on a computer. However, you understand that removed content may persist in backup copies for a reasonable period of time (but will not be available to others).
  3. When you use an application, the application may ask for your permission to access your content and information as well as content and information that others have shared with you. We require applications to respect your privacy, and your agreement with that application will control how the application can use, store, and transfer that content and information. (To learn more about Platform, including how you can control what information other people may share with applications, read our Data Use Policy and Platform Page.)
  4. When you publish content or information using the Public setting, it means that you are allowing everyone, including people off of Facebook, to access and use that information, and to associate it with you (i.e., your name and profile picture).
  5. We always appreciate your feedback or other suggestions about Facebook, but you understand that we may use them without any obligation to compensate you for them (just as you have no obligation to offer them).

I underlined some key points up there, in case you don’t want to read all that. Basically, you can go right ahead and use my words and pictures, but you are required to associate it with me by using my name and profile picture. You can’t just upload it on your page like it’s yours.

Now I wouldn’t normally write about such a tedious topic but, you see, my stuff keeps getting stolen! Oh sure, you might say I should be flattered. But if someone took something that you made, you probably wouldn’t feel flattered.

But what about the children, Flannery? What about the joy and love that we’re spreading?

Listen, that crap doesn’t float here. I don’t care if you’re saving baby unicorns by waving around these words and pictures you take, it’s still a violation of Facebook policy and intellectual property rights.

Wait. You’re going to tell me that your PHONE doesn’t have the share button? So basically what you’re telling me is that you have no self control, and are not responsible for your own actions. You simply could not wait until you got in front of a computer because that picture HAD to be made public, IMMEDIATELY, for the good of all mankind? Nope, sorry. That’s a pathetic excuse.

You cannot simply make an ignorance plea, especially if your entire FB feed is FULL of words and pics you’ve downloaded from someone else.

But I don’t want you to think I don’t care about the children. Or the baby unicorns. I do, I really, REALLY do. So as a service to children and unicorns and even baby kittens, I will go ahead and alert you to some of the biggest offenders on FB pages. You might not see any of my stuff, because I’ve reported them and demanded they be taken down and shared properly (or they have repeatedly taken work from other writers I know). But YOU, dear reader, may want to keep a vigilant eye on these dishonest, unethical, sorry excuses for spreading goodness and glitter losers.

And here you have it, the List of Shame (I will not link to them because I’m not interested in driving traffic to their pages):

Autism Different Not Less

Autism Spectrum Disorder Through My Eyes

Stop Discrimination Against Special Needs

Single Mothers Who Have Children With Autism

Asperger Syndrome Awareness

We are all interested in spreading awareness and understanding of autism. But our words and images are meant to be shared properly, not taken. Whether it’s in the name of awareness or not, they are still works that we have created. But when I or others have contacted these pages and asked for images to be taken down or shared properly and we’re told that they’re doing nothing wrong, and we’re just big meanies, then it’s a problem.

If you encounter this issue with your own work, my recommendation is that you first message the page and ask them to remove it and share properly. If they do not, or they try and engage you in lengthy discussions about why they should be able to do whatever they want, then you can report them to FB and request that they have the images removed.

Oy. Anyone remember when the biggest issue was with people plagiarizing from books? You know, those bulky things with lots of pages and words, and sometimes illustrations…

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About Flannery

Kid, husband, dogs, my mother, full-time job, maximum stress, minimal relaxation...sooner or later I had to vent. AND we moved from California to Texas. I could start a whole other blog about that.

19 responses »

  1. Last year a business group I belong to talked about copyright rules and I took down everything that was in violation. Copy right rules are impossible to understand and too expensive for the average person to comply. I re-share posts on Facebook all the time I know at least part of them have not been paid for but you don’t know which ones. With social media there are really no boundaries. Yes you can get in trouble with certain pictures. But most people don’t even think about that.

    Reply
  2. Reblogged this on JesseGarboden and commented:
    Last year a business group I belong to talked about copyright rules and I took down everything that was in violation. Copy right rules are impossible to understand and too expensive for the average person to comply. I re-share posts on Facebook all the time I know at least part of them have not been paid for but you don’t know which ones. With social media there are really no boundaries. Yes you can get in trouble with certain pictures. But most people don’t even think about that.

    Reply
  3. Jaron "Pink Drink" Apfelkopf

    The other pet peeve? It’s bad enough when someone re-posts your entire post rather than links to you from a paragraph excerpt, but when they have the balls to rewrite entire blog posts and change names so it looks like the post is by them AND about them– that’s just the height of offensiveness. It’s no different for someone to THEIR watermark over MY art. Why should anyone be expected to ever be flattered by that behavior? Oh yeah, here’s a wheelchair for your oversized balls, Flan. Go get em.

    Reply
  4. I hope you discussed this with the admins of those pages before calling them out publicly.

    I personally think with the new technology and ways we communicate, the intellectual property rights of a MEME should be completely abandoned. It’s not a novel, a piece of artwork, a photo…it’s a meme. If it’s that important, put your name on it, and keep a record YOU created it, and if you see it out there without your name and it bothers you so badly, press charges to the fullest extent of the law by all means,

    Reply
    • Why no, I didn’t contact them. They didn’t contact anyone before taking their property for their pages. Maybe you could go alert them for me? Also, you can think what you want about memes, but they’re still covered under intellectual property. If they’re not shared and linked to the site with a photo, it’s against the law.

      Reply
      • Interesting response. So hostile…I really don’t understand.

        Reply
        • Jaron "Pink Drink" Apfelkopf

          The question seems confusing, so to be clear– Did Flan contact the offenders multiple times about various, repeat offenses? Actually yes, repeatedly. Did Flan contact them to get their permission before outing them publicly for being a nuisance? No, and in this case, that’s not really warranted, as she’s griping about illegal plagiaristic behavior that they engage in publicly, repeatedly, indignantly and without remorse.

          Annie, if you could see firsthand the vast number of thefts identified and the frustrating process and conversations that take place to get them removed from social media, you might quickly grasp that dealing with these folks are more like dealing with snotty unrepentant bullies, caught with a firecracker in a bathroom stall than like true special needs advocates that genuinely want to spread love and acceptance, fixing honest mistakes that they make along the way. There comes a time when you have to realize that when people steals from you for the umpteenth time, and lash back angrily when caught again, know precisely what they are doing, and can’t be acting out of ignorance.

          So Annie, unless you regularly get your work stolen, (er… appropriated and redistributed to people who would otherwise be your audience,) without proper sharing tools used, or proper due credit given to you for your work, I think it’s pretty difficult to judge whether someone is being hostile, or just being blunt about how it feels to be stolen from over and over– internet “tone” being what it is.

          A great example of overt hostility on a similar subject would be Harlan Ellison’s “Pay The Writer” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mj5IV23g-fE

          Reply
    • Hi Anne,

      I would like to point something out. This link gives definition of a meme http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme It states that a meme is an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person.

      When you create a meme you are sharing an idea that you had. One that you created and it is protected under the intellectual properties act. Yes most of them are funny and meant to go viral, but they were still the brain child of someone that deserves at least credit for their thought.

      You might not think much of them, but I bet the person that created it does. Just something to think on.

      Reply
  5. I <3 you Flannery. I really do. PREACH IT SISTER!

    Reply
  6. This is why I don’t post my poetry anywhere on the net, not even my own blog… That number one, the part you underlined… Wow. So even if I delete something, if just one person shred it and didn’t delete it, your content is still active on Facebook.

    Reply
  7. Hi friend, you can also use donotlink to have a link without the SEO bump, http://www.donotlink.com/

    Reply
  8. thanks for this! more ppl need to take the time to read this and educate themselves. esp the pages that are NOTORIOUS for this!

    Reply
  9. Yep you can find more theft of intellectual property in the name of disability – my work has been stolen & plagiarised by a person who thinks she’s a professional. The only thing she’s professional at is stealing other people’s work!

    Reply
  10. Hey, just found your blog and this post. I’m a mom of an autistic son and a graphic artist. I am struggling with the very same issue with a couple of my autism designs and I wanted to say thank you. Facebook members have shared and saved my art over and over and many have been altered to fit the poster’s personal tastes. I’ve been blamed for having my images available on image searches – ? – because it’s all “my” fault they don’t know that free clipart for websites doesn’t come from image searches. I’ve wanted to post something similar on my blog but you did a much better job than I could have attempted. Rock on, keep up the fight .. so on and so forth. You have my support.

    Reply

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