Is it just that the law is an ass or are deeper motives behind this?

February 16th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

No real time to blog today – much too much admin to allow such trivial things! But I couldn’t resist giving myself a short break from the spreadsheets to comment on two of today’s twitter memes.

The first is the draconian new Conditions of Service released by Facebook. As Chris Walters points out anything you upload to Facebook can now be used by Facebook in any way they deem fit, forever, no matter what you do later. Want to close your account? Good for you, but Facebook still has the right to do whatever it wants with your old content. They can even sublicense it if they want.

“You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to (a) use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute (through multiple tiers), any User Content you (i) Post on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof subject only to your privacy settings or (ii) enable a user to Post, including by offering a Share Link on your website and (b) to use your name, likeness and image for any purpose, including commercial or advertising, each of (a) and (b) on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof.”

That language is the same as in the old TOS, but there was an important couple of lines at the end of that section that have been removed:

“You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content.”

Furthermore, the “Termination” section near the end of the TOs states:

“The following sections will survive any termination of your use of the Facebook Service: Prohibited Conduct, User Content, Your Privacy Practices, Gift Credits, Ownership; Proprietary Rights, Licenses, Submissions, User Disputes; Complaints, Indemnity, General Disclaimers, Limitation on Liability, Termination and Changes to the Facebook Service, Arbitration, Governing Law; Venue and Jurisdiction and Other.”

The second is the goings on in New Zealand where the protest against the Guilt Upon Accusation law ‘Section 92A‘ that calls for internet disconnection based on accusations of copyright infringement without a trial and without any evidence held up to court scrutiny has led to a viral campaign to black out avatars on social networking sites.

Is it it just that the law is an ass? Or is it that legislators are quite happy to take action to prevent individuals sharing files, sharing ideas and creating new works, but bow down to the real pirates – the Facebooks of the world. Money still counts when it comes to the law.

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