Why You Shouldn’t Post The Viral Mumbo Jumbo Legal Message On Your Facebook Wall

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By Alex Aldridge on

Earlier in the day we posted a note on our Facebook page about the pseudo-legal message that has been doing the rounds on said medium. Magic spell-like, the message claims to preserve users’ copyright over their postings.

The message in full is below…


US legal blog Above the Law has done a great piece explaining why posting the message won’t protect Facebook users in America. But there’s been almost nothing in the UK media or blogosphere on it. Certainly, it would be good to get a British lawyer’s take on what Above the Law terms “pseudo-legalese” – which we’ll try to do via Twitter.

Update: Hardwicke Chambers barrister Jamie Clarke says of the message: “It’s like going to the local pool and daubing: ‘These are the rules that apply to me only: I am going to bomb, pet heavily, run.'”

Here are the best bits of the Above the Law piece:

“We’ll put this simply to avoid further confusion: stringing together nonsensical bits of pseudo-legalese cannot save you from succumbing to the rules and regulations of the Facebook gods.”

“…it’s the Berne Convention, not the Berner Convention — the latter just sounds like a nickname for your stoner gatherings with friends. Anyway, under the Berne Convention, copyright is automatic, and Facebook acknowledges that you own your copyright to the things you oh-so-carelessly post on the site 24 hours a day.”

“Another thing that Facebook freely admits is that once you’ve agreed to their terms and conditions — which you already did, by signing up to use the site — you’ve granted the company a ‘non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook.’”

There’s more at Mashable and Snopes on why the message is rubbish. Meanwhile, Forbes has a piece explaining forthcoming changes to Facebook’s privacy policy – an underlying anxiety about which seems to be the main reason the message has proved so popular.