It’s Mine, All Mine(d)!

  Miner Headlamp 
  Originally uploaded by Mickipedia.

A brilliant, go-read-it-now post from Michael O’Connor Clarke brings up some great points on how he feels the various walled-garden social networking systems (e.g. Facebook, Spock, LinkedIn, etc.) are overstepping their bounds.  Clarke states his case:

"Hardly a day goes by without a handful of invitations to new social
networking services landing in my inbox. The e-friend machine du jour
seems to be this Spock thing. I’m
getting 3-4 ‘requests for my trust’ per day. And if it’s not Spock,
it’s Trig, or ECademy, or MyRagan, or Quechup, or some other Ning-based

No offense to any eager YASNS developers out there,
and I really do appreciate the invitation, but frankly, I’m just
getting really tired of all these Web 2.oh communities that want to lay
claim to all of the content contributed by their users."

He then continues:

"Of course, the problem is not limited to Spock.  Facebook has pretty much the same rotten garbage in its ToS [Terms of Service], as does LinkedIn.

Here’s a use case: my Facebook profile
includes a sort of mini-aggregator. At some point, before I stopped to
think about these things, I plugged in a little FB app that reads my
RSS feed and republishes my blog posts inside the Facewall (to use Doc’s excellent phrase).

the Facewall, those blog posts live a carefree, pastoral existence –
roaming happily through the wilds of the Net, mostly unworried by
issues of ownership. Once inside Facebook, however, they become
potentially commercial objects – part of the giant content mill,
churning away in the never-ending quest to build a better advertiser

Outside the Facewall, they’re mine and freely distributed to the world at large, under simple CC licensing provisions.

Once inside, though – now who do they belong to?

me, I guess, but I’ve also unwittingly given the Facebookkeepers ‘an
irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid,
worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly
perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in
part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose, commercial, advertising, or otherwise,
on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to prepare
derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User
Content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing.’"

(Seriously, go read the whole thing if you haven’t already.)

So, how does this all shake out?  Say, for example, an excerpt from The Economist (ok, fine, The Onion) gets posted on my blog.  Say, then, some app or Facebook Beacon or the like hoovers my content into the walled garden.  Does what may have been "fair use" outside (on my blog) get its rights transmogrified once it gets pulled into another system in this way?

One Reply to “It’s Mine, All Mine(d)!”

  1. Thanks Christopher. I really liked you idea of temporarily switching my RSS feed with that of the NYTimes, so that FB starts re-publishing the Times’ stories under their nasty “we ownz you” ToS. That would be just too funny to watch. Of course, given the general heavy-handed cluelessness of corporate copyright lawyers, both FB and the NYT would probably direct their smackdowns to me, as opposed to each other. Bah.

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