Legal/CC BY-SA on Facebook

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Can you post CC BY-SA content that you or the Foundation produced on Facebook?[edit]

Yes. If you are the rights-holder of the content that you have released or are going to release under CC BY-SA, you can still license it under FB's terms. Nothing in the CC BY-SA license prevents you from licensing your work under multiple (and incompatible) licenses. You just can't revoke the CC BY-SA license. And the downstream users must use the content under the specific license you gave them. So, for example, if you licensed the content to FB under CC BY-SA and under their Terms of Use, they can use the content under the terms of either license.

Can you post CC BY-SA content that a third party produced on Facebook?[edit]

No. If you are planning on reusing CC BY-SA content produced by a third party, you must comply with the terms of the CC BY-SA license. Section 4 of the CC BY-SA license provides:

The license granted in Section 3 above is expressly made subject to and limited by the following restrictions:

a. You may Distribute or Publicly Perform the Work only under the terms of this License.

If you post any content on FB, you are agreeing to their Terms of Use and you are licensing that content under those Terms. At the time of this posting (26 March 2012‎) Section 2 of the FB Terms of Use provided:

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.

By licensing another party's CC BY-SA content under FB's Terms of Use rather than the terms of the CC BY-SA license, you are in violation of the CC BY-SA license. Additionally, it's arguable that you are also in violation of FB's terms of use for representing that "You own all of the content and information you post on Facebook…"

As of 23 July 2018, these are the words from the Terms of Service:

You may not use our Products to do or share anything: (..) That infringes or violates someone else's rights. (..) violates your rights (including intellectual property rights)

Permission to use content you create and share: You own the content you create and share on Facebook and the other Facebook Products you use, and nothing in these Terms takes away the rights you have to your own content. You are free to share your content with anyone else, wherever you want. (..) Specifically, when you share, post, or upload content that is covered by intellectual property rights (like photos or videos) on or in connection with our Products, you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, and worldwide license to host, use, distribute, modify, run, copy, publicly perform or display, translate, and create derivative works of your content (consistent with your privacy and application settings). (..) You can end this license any time by deleting your content or account. You should know that, for technical reasons, content you delete may persist for a limited period of time in backup copies (though it will not be visible to other users). In addition, content you delete may continue to appear if you have shared it with others and they have not deleted it.

What follows now has not been endorsed or verified by WMF and is provided as is. The part about ending the license can be ignored entirely, because Facebook won't end the license for content you have shared with others who haven't deleted it. (which is beyond your control) For all intents and purposes, the license you grant Facebook is irrevocable.

The ToS is, possibly deliberately, a little vague about the definition of "your" content. Does it mean your content, i.e., which you own the copyrights for? Or does it refer to everything you dump on Facebook?

You are not allowed to "violate someone else's intellectual property rights". A lot of content may not violate copyright when shared if it is fair use, covered by the right to quote, the copyright expired or one is allowed to share a copyrighted work (for example shareware or Creative Commons). The words "upload content that is covered by intellectual property rights" do not specify if this only concerns the works "you create and share on Facebook" or everything you upload. In fact, the words "you create and share on Facebook" can be interpreted as "the works you create, then share" or "the works you create or share". If you wish to know what they meant, I must refer you to Alexander. It does go on to say "..display, translate, and create derivative works of your content", but again it's not clear if this refers to content that is genuinely yours or just anything you upload to Facebook. (compare "your" music collection)

If you assume it only refers to content you own the copyright to (like photos you have taken yourself), it is acceptable to share CC BY(-SA) photos on Facebook, provided you comply with the terms (attribution, sharing alike for derivatives) or it is within the scope of fair use. If you assume it refers to everything you share on Facebook, you absolutely cannot share anything you don't own the rights for. No movie posters, no lolcats, no doge, and until recently any recording of a bunch of toddlers singing "Happy birthday" would have been strictly off-limits as well. Better make sure to spank them whenever they try to hum a tune from My Little Pony for Facebook. Can't have that. A CC BY(-SA) license makes no difference in this case. If you are not the author, you are not able to give Facebook a sub-licensable unlimited license that doesn't require attribution.

This doesn't answer all questions. For example, if you do upload third party CC BY-SA content to Facebook and Facebook were to exploit that in ways that violate the license, who is responsible? If I let you borrow my car, you ask me "Can I use your car to rob a bank?" and I say "sure, whatever" because nobody except freaks ever actually reads a ToS, am I responsible for your crime?

Can you post content that includes trademarks?[edit]

Maybe. This is a more complicated question. Under a strict reading of section of FB's Terms of Use cited above, the answer would be no. Under that very vague and equally broad license, you would be giving FB license to use the Foundation's trademarks in any manner they wanted, including competition with the Foundation or representing themselves as our affiliates. And if it's a third party's marks, you don't even have the right to agree to that license.

On the other hand, from a practical standpoint, it is unlikely that FB would use the Foundation's marks in that manner. And licensing FB to use the marks doesn't mean that anyone on FB can use the marks. Only FB.

If you are concerned about content that is not just the marks, but happens to include a mark (like a picture of the office that happens to have a shot of the puzzle globe on wall in it), those images are fine to license under CC BY-SA or any other copyright license. Even if the Foundation does not claim copyright on those images, we do claim trademark rights to the marks contained in those images. This means a reuser can use the image that contains the marks, but they cannot use the marks themselves without committing trademark infringement.

Please note that if you are not an employee or authorized representative of the Wikimedia Foundation, you may not use any of the Foundation's marks, other than uses permitted by the Foundation's Trademark Policy, without express written permission. If you would like to use the Foundation's marks or have questions about whether your use is beyond the scope of the Trademark Policy, please email trademarks -at- wikimedia.org.

Links[edit]