Lost Edinburgh, Facebook, and Copyright

Posted on August 22, 2011


Background- A Facebook page was created that showcased photos of Edinburgh, Scotland, from the past. It was called “Lost Edinburgh” and was recently closed down because the photos were taken from copyrighted material, some of which was held by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Now RCAHMS has been taking a lot of flack on Facebook for this from the 20,000+ former members of the group.

They have since posted explaining their actions about the copyright issues. The reason they asked it to be taken down was because any intellectual property, such as photos,  posted on Facebook becomes, for all intense and purposes, the property of Facebook.

Yes, the new terms for Facebook grant them – “you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP (intellectual property) 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.”

Basically, you post something on Facebook they can market it, reselling, make profit off of it, not pay you a penny, and not give credit.

That is why RCAHMS had to come out against the posting of their pictures. Most heritage organizations would be thrilled just to have someone look at their picture archives but to have a billion dollar corporation take control of your photos to make money is just too much to stomach. Facebook could sell the Photos to whoever they wanted to without acknowledging RCAHMS or paying them for all their hard work.

I should also make the distinction that RCAHMS lets people use their photos all the time for publications, personal use, etc. as long as they are acknowledge as the source. They do not beat up on individuals who just want to share/use a few photos.

They do draw the line at people out to make profits. Which I think is a good thing. My taxes pay for RCAHMS and I would hate for McDonalds to be making a fortune off of my support of the public good. I do support their work being used by the public for free as long as those using it are not out to make a profit, which it is.

People should probably stop giving RCAHMS so much flack. They are just making sure a billion dollar corporation can not screw over the taxpayers.

My solution- Move Lost Edinburgh or at least the photos off Facebook, cite the sources and hyperlink (I am sure all the copyright owners would love the traffic and it would fall within the legal “research” fair use of copyright), and call it a day.

Posted in: Wildcard