The Small Print Project                            

Archive for December, 2006

YouWitness News – What You Agree to

Hard to believe that User-Generated content necessitates such brutal terms… who would think that, by doing Yahoo! and Reuters a favor, and donating your photos/video, you’ve gotta literally sign your life and your friendships away — all, of course, without every pressing pen to paper.

YouWitness News has been written about all week — it went live yesterday.

Before you get all excited about being “the next Kevin Sites,” be sure to make your way to the Terms of Service — I’m sure nobody will — and remember the next Kevin Sites not only doesn’t get a million dollar salary but agree:

that You have the written consent, release, and/or permission of each and every identifiable individual person in Your Content to use such person’s name or likeness for use of Your Content by Yahoo! in the manner contemplated in these Additional Terms….

You retain your ownership rights, of course, but you only get credit in name — no links, e-mail addresses and/or comments — so nobody can follow-up to re-license or distribute. Either post it on YouTube, or:

…hereby grant Yahoo! the following worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, sublicensable and transferable rights and licenses … to use, distribute, reproduce, modify, remix, excerpt, adapt, prepare derivative works and compilations of, publicly perform and publicly display Your Content on the Service or on any Yahoo! property, including in connection with any distribution or syndication arrangement thereof with third parties or third-party sites, in any media format or medium and through any media channels …

I just don’t think this is what most people have in mind when they think of crowdsourcing, citizen journalism and the like.

Blog/Social Net Publishing and Terms

From the Business2.0 Softgadgets blog:

When your blog/community forum/project-management-site is sitting on Blogger or Typepad or MySpace or Friendster or Basecamp, it’s conceivable that some kind of terrible behavior will require them to take it down. The more public and free the forum, the better case these Web 2.0 titans have for maintaining the ability to do so: they have some minimal responsibility not to enable criminal behavior. But that line is incredibly unclear. Moreover, it’s not really a first amendment issue so much as its a prior agreement issue–when you check the acknowledgment box for the catch-all privacy policy upon signing up for this or that nifty Web 2.0 service, do you really think about your rights under this free and and difficult-to-read contract?

Of course you don’t. I’d love to hear if Blogger (nee Pyra and now a part of Google) has ever acted upon this clause of their ToS:

MODIFICATIONS TO SERVICE Pyra reserves the right to modify or discontinue the Service with or without notice to Member.

I’m partial to WordPress blogging software and note that there is no such statement in the terms on their blog-hosting service, wordpress.com.

Of course, while sites like Facebook and Myspace claim they will delete inappropriate content, I really wish MySpace would write in some rule that differentiates the typical sales pitch friend request from the legitimate, real person request…. but that’s another story…