And in other news…

It seems that FB has at least temporarily rolled back their terms of service to the previous, slighly less draconian terms until they can figure out why tens of thousands of people were protesting and even deleting their accounts. We’ll see what happens.

On to other news. Suddenly life has gotten really busy! Especially with LTUE coming up this week (Thurs-Sat in the Wilkinson Center at BYU), I have several things on the agenda that I need to get done today so that I can clear the schedule for LTUE. With Monday being a holiday, I took some time off to hang out with friends who normally work during the day, so I have had a bit of a shortened week myself and I’m playing catch-up now.

Coming up after LTUE, if you’re local, I’m working on scheduling a community class on writing science fiction and fantasy for children and young adults, which I’ll announce here when I’ve finalized plans (which will be tomorrow, when I print out the flyers I will bring with me to LTUE–grab one if you’re going to be there this weekend). We’ll focus on what editors look for, the craft of writing in those genres (especially when writing for young readers), and how writing for children in SFF differs from writing SFF for adults–not to mention how writing for children under 12 differs from writing for teens, and how that specifically applies in fantasy and science fiction. It’ll be a chance to get an in-depth discussion going with your questions in mind. It looks like the best time for it will be late March. If this goes well, I’m considering making it a series.

Bringing in the Feds: Eeeeven more on Facebook’s ToS changes

If you’re interested in protesting on Facebook, by the way, there’s a group of over 50,000 FB members discussing their problems with the changes.

Even more interesting, though, is that EPIC is filing a complaint with the FTC over all this–so my little concerns have joined with a lot of little concerns and I feel a little justified now. As J.R. Raphael over at PC World put it,

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has attempted to calm the concerns, posting a blog entry stating that “people own their information” and that Facebook “wouldn’t share [it] in a way you wouldn’t want.” As an example of why the controversial clause is needed in its updated form, Zuckerberg explains that even if you were to delete your account, any messages you had sent to a friend would still remain in his inbox–so Facebook requires the expanded rights to make sure that could happen.

Isn’t that a far cry, though, from anything that’d warrant retaining a “perpetual” license to “use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, [and] adapt” any content you’ve ever uploaded, including the option to “use your name, likeness and image for any purpose”?

In my opinion, a far cry indeed.

Facebook responds

Just saw this response from Facebook regarding the rights brou-ha-ha.

We are not claiming and have never claimed ownership of material that users upload.  The new Terms were clarified to be more consistent with the behavior of the site.  That is, if you send a message to another user (or post to their wall, etc…), that content might not be removed by Facebook if you delete your account (but can be deleted by your friend).  Furthermore, it is important to note that this license is made subject to the user’s privacy settings.  So any limitations that a user puts on display of the relevant content (e.g. To specific friends) are respected by Facebook. Also, the license only allows us to use the info “in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof.”  Users generally expect and understand this behavior as it has been a common practice for web services since the advent of webmail.  For example, if you send a message to a friend on a webmail service, that service will not delete that message from your friend’s inbox if you delete your account.

One of the most important goals of the new Terms was to be more open to users by being more clear about how their data was handled.  We certainly did not — and did not intend — to create any new right or interest for Facebook in users’ data by issuing the new Terms.  None of the news or blog reports at the time we announced them on February 4 suggested any confusion or misunderstanding.

However, the legalese itself suggests other possible uses that could be tapped into at some point. Perhaps they should consider making it plain English that says just this directly in the ToS and emphasize that they still claim no license to continue to post anything that is directly in your account, such as blog posts and photos in your personal albums. I think would reassure many writers and photographers.

Interesting take on changing terms of service w/out notification

The courts have said that it’s not acceptable.

The Ninth Circuit disagreed heavily with the original ruling, saying that it was not reasonable to expect Douglas to check the company’s web site every day just to see if the terms of service had changed. “Parties to a contract have no obligation to check the terms on a periodic basis to learn whether they have been changed by the other side,” wrote the judges. “Indeed, a party can’t unilaterally change the terms of a contract; it must obtain the other party’s consent before doing so… This is because a revised contract is merely an offer and does not bind the parties until accepted.”

But what if the original user agreement involved signing away rights to be notified of subsequent changes? There is some question as to whether this ruling would also affect that type of agreement, but as Eric Goldman of the Technology & Marketing Law Blog says, it’s relatively safe to assume that the decision applies to this situation, “despite contract provisions putatively permitting unilaterally posted website amendments which put the onus on users to check back frequently for updates.”

More on ToS at Facebook

Mashable has a post that says it a lot more succinctly than the concerns I was trying to express yesterday. It compares specific quotes from the previous and current TOS. Check it out. A preview:

The possible implications of this TOS change go beyond these concerns. Sure, you can choose not to use Facebook at all, but that doesn’t mean a thing. Someone can still take your photo, slap it on Facebook, and now neither you nor the author of the photo can stop Facebook from using the photo in whichever way they please.

Looking at it globally, millions of people are uploading bits of information on everyone and everything, to a huge online database, and by doing so they’re automatically giving away the rights to use or modify this information to a private corporation. And not only that; they now also waiver the right to ever take it back from it.

Concerns about Facebook’s terms of service rights claims

Facebook’s terms of service changed over a week ago, without them notifying anyone. (It’s like they think they’re a credit card company or something.) Now, they claim they have all rights in perpetuity to any content on the site (previously, it was simply a basic right to post your content here on the site and use in marketing, the latter of which was bad enough).

Note this clause–especially the words “fully paid” and “right to sublicense”:

You are solely responsible for the User Content that you Post on or through the Facebook Service. 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. You represent and warrant that you have all rights and permissions to grant the foregoing licenses.

This means that they think they have a right to my photos and my blog, which I do not grant. Those of you who understand this kind of copyright more than me, what does it mean to you? I mean, I understand that if I post something there, I give them a non-exclusive right to post it THERE, but the idea that somehow that then allows them to sell my content? Not something I’m going to agree with, and I am of a mind to pull all my content off. I’ve already cancelled my blog feed and deleted the pictures from my portfolio.

I find it disingenuos and dishonest at best, even if they say that there are so many people on here and why would they want my content in practice–in reality, it’s my content, the product of my own work, and I own the copyright. I do not grant license to FB to sell my content without my express written permission.

It’s one thing to post things on the internet and know that they will probably be stolen by unscrupulous people who don’t understand or care that it’s wrong, but it’s another to say that by posting something on Facebook, I then say that it’s Facebook’s property. No, not gonna happen.

Any lawyer-type people out there who understand the ins and outs of this kind of law? I’m unsatisfied by the explanation in the article I linked above on The Consumerist.