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Social Network Bill of Rights

The herd begins to wake the fuck up……
Recent calls for a social network bill of rights is interesting as some folks are beginning to see the light. Some folks need walled gardens and content silos, cause the internet is a scary dangerous place. You are welcome to them. I will not be joining you.
Social Network Content Plantations Need you a hell of a lot more than you need them.

This is not limited to Facebook. MSN Livespaces, My Space, Ning, Flikr, You Tube, and every other ‘Social Network’

Here is the problem in a nutshell. Everyone of these Social Network Content Plantations has you enter into a Contract. It’s the Terms and Conditions Page. That you didn’t read the fine print or understand it, makes no difference. This is basic Contract Law 101. You will not even get a place on a docket to fight this in court. This has not even touched the license that you granted them for your little corner of cyberspace.

Copyright in one hand, shit in the other.
Here is a hint. bring toilet paper.
In the US, Copyright is conferred upon publication. Being an author or other creative with your copyright and 3 bucks may get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks. Ownership means nothing in any countable monetary terms. Copyright gives the author a Limited Time Monopoly to capitalize upon their creation before it becomes part of the Public Domain. That is the other part of the Copyright deal that the entertainment industry keeps pushing back. Don’t get me started on the obscenity of current copy terms in the US.

Production, distribution and sales of copies is what makes money. Depending upon your creation, text, images, sound or video, determines the next step in making money. Self Publishing, which has its attractions or a deal with a publisher. With most publishers, licensing is negotiated. There is give and take in these deals, which are contracts and without understanding them, will have you keeping your day job or dying broke. With the Internet, a keyboard, mouse, and a website you are now a publisher.

Let me take a moment and explain what you are giving away to the Social Network Content Plantation.

a worldwide, fully sub-licensable, fully paid-up and royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable license to use, reproduce, modify, distribute, publicly display, publicly perform, and create derivative works

Lets take a moment to look at what that means.
Worldwide-
covers the entire globe on and offline,

fully sub-licensable –
They now have the ability to license your work to anybody else under any compensation terms they can negotiate. You will not see a dime nor can you complain. Why? see the next term….

fully paid-up and royalty-free,
Just in case you didn’t understand the term above, no money has changed hands but this falls under the ‘other valuable considerations’ or ‘in kind’ boilerplate of contracts, and royalties are what normally would be your profit per copy, under even the most draconian contact with a publisher, But You Gave It Away.

perpetual, Forever.

irrevocable Impossible to retract or revoke: license to use, reproduce, modify, distribute, publicly display, publicly perform,
in short,they have owned your work and can do anything they choose, and you have absolutely no, repeat no, recourse for any use of your material in whatever form, in any venue, at any time, forever.

create derivative works
They can take something from user 1 and something from user 2, and make it a derivative work , which is now copyrightable in its own right, to which you cannot protest, sue, cry, whine, or otherwise express any objection.

But you still have your copyright!! your copyright and 3 bucks may get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks.

Let’s recap. They gave you a username and password and a small place on their site for you to upload things for other people to see. For this grand gesture on their part, ’cause they said that they were your friend, you gave them the right to sell space on your space to any advertiser with a checkbook.

If your ass doesn’t hurt yet, read on.

You GAVE them a worldwide, fully sub-licensable, fully paid-up and royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable license to use, reproduce, modify, distribute, publicly display, publicly perform, and create derivative works

Now if this is your idea of a good time or seems fair, Please Send Me All Your Money!!!

Here is what you should be thinking about if you want to play the social network game.

In exchange for my uploading materials to your site, you will receive a Limited, fully revocable, License to Display my materials on your network in the Original, forms as delivered to you, with full attribution to me as the author/copyright holder, for the duration of our engagement, being the period of time that we are entered into this arrangement, evidenced by my use of the username/password you have provided and the space on your network you have made available to me.

All others rights are Reserved including, but not limited to, reproduction, modification, distribution outside of the aforementioned space, subsidary public display, public performance, and or derivative works in any format, online or offline.

This is just a rough draft of an agreement which is more equitable especially in terms of the reality that they will be placing advertisements around your stuff and you are looking for fame and glory rather than a revenue sharing arrangement. This allows them to continue to grow and it also covers your butt.

Social Network Content Plantations Need you a hell of a lot more than you need them.

2 comments to Social Network Bill of Rights

  • i never noticed that MSN Livespaces had those terms. I should take a closer look. I know several other sites make a rights grab and people just don’t understand it.

  • Microsoft goes a bit father
    8. Your Materials.

    [snip] However, by posting or otherwise providing your submission, you are granting to the public free permission to:

    * use, copy, distribute, display, publish and modify your submission, each in connection with the service;
    * publish your name in connection with your submission; and
    * grant these permissions to other persons.
    [snip]

    Basically publically domaining your stuff

    http://tou.live.com/en-us/default.aspx