VIC Urgent Legal Advice Required around ownership of Facebook Group (potential injunction pending)

Discussion in 'Intellectual Property Law Forum' started by AustraliaSocialMedia, 21 October 2017.

  1. AustraliaSocialMedia

    AustraliaSocialMedia Active Member

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    Question: Who legally owns a Facebook Group?

    Context: In 2014 I created a Facebook group that was used to procure clients for my business.

    In 2016 I partnered with an individual to launch a company and gave the business access to that Facebook Group for the purpose of continuing to solicit clients. At this stage there were 16,000 members.

    The business partnership has now ceased with my business partner stating that I gave the Facebook Group to the business at the beginning of the partnership. This I did not do, however, there is no proof in writing either way.

    During the period of the business Facebook adverts went into promoting lead magnets that resulted in client generation and as a by product of these Facebook Adverts those who responded were also encouraged to join the group.

    The Facebook Group now stands at 24,000 members.

    My business partner is demanding that I give her access to the group and remove myself from the group entirely.

    Since the launch of this group I have poured a significant amount of time into this group which therefore means that there is a significant amount of goodwill around me and my name in this group and has always been the case leading to significant commercial success. This group has been my livelihood since 2014.

    I have always been the original creator of the group which Facebook acknowledges with creator status and the accompanying levels of protection around this.

    This Facebook Group was also never listed as a company asset within the businesses profit and loss accounts.

    My understanding:

    My understanding is that Facebook owns this group (and Facebook could close it down etc whenever they choose) and as a user of the Facebook platform Facebook has given me permission to create this group within the environment that is owned by them.

    I, however, do not “own” the list of members, this is owned by Facebook. On this basis, it is my belief that I would not be permitted to give this group over to a business entity as I am merely the creator not the owner.

    The other business owner has threatened an injunction to stop me posting within this group unless I completely hand over the group to her.

    I am seeking advice from an individual with experience in social media law and I am happy to pay for such a service.
     
  2. DMLegal

    DMLegal Well-Known Member

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    Apologies if I missed it in your post but have you offered to sell it to her, or is this not an option? If the business operates under the business name of which you are no longer a part, it may be considered your partners intellectual property (technically speaking) at least from Facebook's perspective.
     
  3. DMLegal

    DMLegal Well-Known Member

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    In answer to your question however, neither you nor your former business partner 'own' the group, You have a licence to use the platform to mange it, which is revokable at Facebook's discretion.
     
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