Who owns the rights to my face? I assumed it was me until I read an article that reminded me that when we create social media accounts, we pretty much agree to grant those platforms a free license to use our content as they wish.
In most cases, you hold the copyright to any content you upload to social media platforms. But when you created your account on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tik Tok, or any platform you agreed to have a free license to use your content as they wish. How can they use it> It depends, but did you read the user agreement or just click "continue?"
How would you feel if you saw one of your tweets used in a Twitter ad campaign? Violated? Angry? Excited? Feel as you wish, but don't expect any cut of the ad's revenue.
In that article, a person sees a sponsored Instagram Story ad with a video of a person putting on lip balm. The person was her. She watched herself apply the balm and smile at the camera, but Abby never agreed to appear in a nationwide social campaign. How is this possible?
Usage rights dictate who owns an image or asset. It determines how and where it’s allowed to appear, and for how long.
The author had worked in media and knew that employees are often "pressured" to appear in campaigns but it is not a part of the full-time job and it is likely that it will go uncompensated.
In this case, she had been told to participate in a photoshoot demonstrating the product’s healing benefits. She recorded for the work day, was not paid, and she believed the campaign was only going to run on the employer’s social media accounts for a few months. But this was more than a year later. Probably her former employer passed the content to the skincare company, though without her permission.
There's an old saying that if you're not paying for a product, then you are the product. Social media sites like Facebook and Instagram are completely free to use for the average consumer because advertisers pay for your attention (and sometimes your data). This is not a new model. In commercial TV broadcasting, you watch content for free because there are commercials. A more cynical explanation is that you pay for the privilege of having yourself sold. You are consumed. You are the product. They deliver you to the advertiser,. The advertiser is their customer.
Think about that the next time you read - or choose not to read - the terms and conditions and agree with a click.
This article is also crossposted at One-Page Schoolhouse