Bogus legal notice goes viral on Facebook

A fake “copyright notice”  has been making the rounds in Facebook posts this week.  The notice attempts to restrict the use of the posting member’s  profile information.  It also encourages other Facebook users to post the notice to their profile.  Quite simply, the notice is a hoax.

The copyright notice meme first made the rounds in Spring 2012, and it returned this month.  Its return prompted Facebook to publish a “fact check” bulletin debunking the hoax by stating: “There is a rumor circulating that Facebook is making a change related to ownership of users’ information or the content they post to the site.  This is false.”

It should come as no surprise that the notice has no legal effect.  The use of Facebook is subject to Facebook’s terms of service.  A mere post can create no legal obligation.  The notice does not create or modify any contract between the posting member and any other user or Facebook itself.

One version of the bogus legal disclaimer is:

In response to the new Facebook guidelines, I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, graphics, comics, paintings, photos, and videos, etc. (as a result of the Berner Convention). For any and all commercial use of the above my written consent is needed at all times!

(Anyone reading this can copy this text and paste it on their Facebook Wall.  This will place them under protection of copyright laws.  By the present communiqué, I notify Facebook that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, disseminate, or take any other action against me on the basis of this profile and/or its contents. The aforementioned prohibited actions also apply to employees, students, agents and/or any staff under Facebook’s direction or control.  The content of this profile is private and confidential information.  The violation of my privacy is punished by law (UCC 1 1-308-308 1-103 and the Rome Statute).

Facebook is now an open capital entity. All members are recommended to publish a notice like this, or if you prefer, you may copy and paste this version.  If you do not publish a statement at least once, you will be tacitly allowing the use of elements such as your photos as well as the information contained in your profile status updates.

Readers who are familiar with intellectual property law will quickly spot the post’s meaningless references to nonexistent laws the “Berner Convention” and “UCC 11-308-308″.  Whether the person who created the original post intended errors like this to serve as a signal, or whether it was merely a lack of knowledge, many Facebook users have fallen for the ruse.

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