Facebook has revamped its Rights Manager to identify copyrighted images across both its Facebook and Instagram social media platforms. Previously, Facebook’s Rights Manager simply dealt with video content, rather than images. However, in the new version, Facebook’s Right Manager now utilizes image-matching technology to identify potentially infringing image content.

Rights Manager application page from Facebook

How Does It Work?

Content creators add their image, along with the image’s metadata, to Facebook’s Reference Library. The Rights Manager then scans both Facebook and Instagram for imagery matching the creator’s reference library. The specific search parameters employed by the Rights Manager can be adjusted to the content creators’ individual preferences. Like adding a website to your safelist of sites, the content creator can provide a list of trusted third parties. Once detected, the Rights Manager provides the content creator with several options to dealt with the potentially infringing content. The options include “include monitoring the content, blocking it or attributing credit via an ownership link,” according to Facebook.

Who Should Apply?

Facebook states that content creators who have large amounts of content are best suited to utilize its Rights Management tool. Alternatively, if you are a content creator who shares a growing amount of content, the Right Manager tool may be for you. However, if you are a content creator who does not maintain a large amount of content or posts regularly, Facebook has another solution. For smaller content creators, it may be more beneficial to report potential infringements through the Facebook IP reporting form, rather than going through the Rights Manager tool.

Do I Need a Registered Copyright?

No. To take advantage of the Rights Manager tool that Facebook provides you do not need to have a registered copyright. Generally, once a work becomes fixed in a tangible medium of expression, copyright protection attaches to that work. For example, the moment an artist’s brush hits the canvas, a copyright is created in that work.

However, obtaining a federal copyright registration with the U.S. Copyright Office offers significant benefits, including:

  1. Having the ability to sue for copyright infringement in court. Without a copyright registration, you cannot bring a lawsuit for copyright infringement;
  2. If you are successful in your suit, you can get statutory damages up to $150,000 per infringement, plus attorney’s fees;
  3. Your registration serves as public notice and helps avoid the “innocent infringer” defense;
  4. Your registration serves as evidence of ownership; and
  5. If registered within five years, a copyright registration demonstrates the validity of your work.

Takeaway

Facebook’s new Rights Manager tool is another tool in the belt for content creators. However, it should not be a replacement for acquiring a federal copyright in your original work. If you or a content creator has a particular work that they plan on monetizing, obtaining a registered copyright should be at the forefront of any creator’s mind. Copyrights are relatively affordable with respect to obtaining other forms of intellectual property protection and offer huge financial upsides when infringed.