The About Facebook article was very informative. While I was discussing this article with my 19-year-old daughter, she went to the Facebook contract to see when the license to use photos and content expires. She told me that the agreement states that the license terminates if the user removes the content. Facebook does retain the right to keep a copy for its archives.
The user's ability to terminate the license by removing the content is extremely important. Each user should be told that unless the user wants Facebook to continue to have the ability to profit from the user's content, the user should remove the content.
I can foresee that some people who use Facebook will, in the future, have achieved some degree of fame. That fame will then allow for content created by them to have value. If that content was posted on Facebook and not removed, then Facebook would still retain the right to profit from that content.
One other issue is what happens to content that Facebook has transferred to some other entity prior to a person removing that content from Facebook.
Facebook obviously must have a license to publicize the content for its own profit because that is its business model. That license should, though, be limited to publicizing the content on the Facebook site, and rather than being in perpetuity, should be renewable for a two-year period each time a user accessed their account. Thus, if a person simply stops using Facebook, after two years the license would terminate. Because the content is archived, a user could always revive it.
One interesting comparison is between the license Facebook demands of its users, and the license that The Nation demands from me to post this letter. As can be seen below, the license is very similar, such that if some writer posts an extremely good idea, The Nation could edit out the valuable part so others cannot see it, but then use the idea for its own profit. Here is the license to which I had to agree to post my letter-
By posting messages or otherwise providing any material for display on the Services, you are representing that you are the owner of the material, or are making your submission with the express consent of the owner of the material. In addition, when you post a message or otherwise provide us with material for display on the Services, you are granting us a royalty-free, perpetual, non-exclusive, unrestricted, worldwide license to:
1. Use, copy, sublicense, adapt, transmit, publicly perform or display any such communication.
2. Sublicense to third parties the unrestricted right to exercise any of the foregoing rights granted with respect to the communication.
The foregoing grants shall include the right to exploit any proprietary rights in such communication, including but not limited to rights under copyright, trademark, service mark or patent laws under any relevant jurisdiction.
Jan 6 2008 - 9:27pm