The internet generally takes a pretty laissez-faire approach to copyright. Even though people and companies have been hit with big payouts, copyright infringement is ubiquitous on Facebook and other social media sites. It’s safe to assume nearly every meme you see has ripped someone off.
Now, Facebook said it’s releasing a tool to help creators protect their content. On Tuesday, the company announced it’s expanding its Rights Manager tool to include images on Facebook and Instagram.
The tool, the company promises, will let people see if their content (like say, their Facebook memes) is being posted and block it, if requested.
“We want to ensure Facebook is a safe and valuable place for creators to share their content,” Dave Axelgard, Facebook’s Product Manager, Creator and Publisher Experience, said in a statement.
“That’s why we built tools like Rights Manager in Creator Studio to help creators and publishers who have a large or growing catalog of content better control when, how and where their content is shared across Facebook and Instagram.”
How will Facebook’s tool stop people ripping off memes and other images?
First introduced in 2016, the Rights Manager tool first allowed Facebook Pages administrators to claim a video that they owned.
Once their ownership is established, users are able to see who is posting it across the platform, issue a takedown request or add a strap on the content that credits their ownership.
This update expands this capability to images, and also to Instagram as well. Users don’t even have publicly post their images — they can just provide a copy of image and its metadata to use the tool.
Facebook can even disabled accounts, pages or groups, who repeatedly post other people’s intellectual property.
Australia’s copyright laws are even stricter than many other countries. Creating or even posting Facebook memes could violate the laws in Australia — and individuals can be penalised up to $117,000 for piracy.
But in reality, copyright is rarely enforced. And that’s due in part to the effort it takes to sue someone for damages).
What this tool offers is another option: a creator who sees their hard work being used without their permission can simply ask Facebook to stop it rather than having to go through the courts. Or they can ensure that they’re being credited.
This, hopefully, will make it easier for individuals to have their work protected, even at Facebook’s enormous scale.