Internet and Computers

Quitting Squidoo for Violating my Terms of Service

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The Error message reads: “Whoops! No publishing allowed. This lens is currently locked for a violation of our Terms of Service, as per the email we sent you. You’re welcome to a) Grab your content and take it elsewhere, if you’d rather not continue with Squidoo or b) Review your content and make edits here in the Workshop to improve the lens. But you won’t be able to Publish the lens live until you can demonstrate that the violation has been addressed. Thanks.

I wrote this how-to lens on autographing books for authors almost four years ago. Squidoo decided three days before Christmas 2011 (when book sales spike) that my article was  — pick one, your guess, they won’t tell, shhhh — pornographic; contained profanity; spammy (guess too many copies of Lifeliner in my pic); something they couldn’t support cause, you know, authors autographing books for readers is so … well, words fail me; a “doorway” lens  to affiliate programs like promoting authors autographing their own books; unoriginal (all those hours I spent writing and polishing was just, well, meh); article spinning (whatever the heck that is, but if I don’t know what it means then I must’ve done it, eh?); and plagiarism.

I’ve been down the false accusation of plagiarism road with Squidoo before.

They sent a nice note saying sorry, it was a “false positive” after I found the plagiarist of my article that they blocked last May. They wrote that they would greenlight it so it wouldn’t happen again, but they didn’t think to greenlight the author, namely me. They seem to have a default stance that Squidoo authors plagiarize and so no point telling Squidoo authors when their work is plagiarized, just cut out the articles. Some site.

Squidoo also wrote in their email to me dated 22 December 2011:

We aim to support high-quality, original and useful lifestyle content that real readers will be glad to land on.”

Yes I can see how comments like these most recent ones would mean readers were not glad to land on it:

“i like this..” Oct 24, 2010 5:14 pm

“I will release my first book and it is all about my experiences as a mystery shopper. I found this site very informative and I am so excited to sign my book to someone who will really appreciate it. Thanks for the signing guides and more power” MysterySh0pper, Dec 11, 2010 6:32 am

“Thanks for the ideas….my first book signing is coming up in a few days!! http://map-thenovel.com” nitronarc, Feb 21, 2011 9:23 pm

“A lens about how to autograph a book: now I’ve seen it all! I am impressed with the research you did! (I’ve never had to autograph a book, but I have had to autograph the CD copy of an ebook!)” TravelingRae, Jun 18, 2011 12:16 am

This week, after I finished revising my novel and finally had the energy to deal with this company and do their work for them, I searched for plagiarized words from my autographing article, and it looks like it was copied elsewhere then possibly taken down or made invisible. Although Google shows other sites as having plagiarized my article, the sites themselves no longer show it, as far as I can tell.

Violations of my copyright are the only thing important to me.

Then I also noticed all my Squidoo lenses on installing and using Ubuntu were taken down. I can’t be bothered yelling at this stupid company again. If it doesn’t have the ability to know which writers are original and to see that it had screwed up before with the same writer, it’s not worth the effort to tell them. I know I said I was going to take down my Squidoo account last time they blasted me with their spraying figure-out-which-term-you-violated-then-maybe-we’ll-talk gun. But didn’t. This time I am.

There may be orphaned links on my website to my old Squidoo lenses once I’ve cancelled my account. Please let me know if you find any.

Last time, they only made nice because I blasted them back and reprimanded my copyright violator — thanks for the help Squidoo in telling me about them and helping me demand they take the plagiarized copy down, not — but I was mollified. This time, I don’t see why again I have to be treated as guilty until innocent. If they default to that position, then they have a problem with their contributors. From telecoms to Squidoo, I’ve had enough of behemoth companies banging their weight around. I quit. Writers looking for autographing advice — and my other former Squidoo essays — can come straight to my own website, thank you very much.

"We're lucky to have you around."
Internet and Computers

Greener Families Does the Right Thing: Takes Down Plagiarized Article

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I’d steeled myself to take the next step in my salvo against the ones who’d plagiarized my chocolate article, especially as I hadn’t received an email of apology or compliance. I went to the page and…

Greener Families Page for Chocolate Article Taken Down Cropped 20 May 2011

Well, isn’t that a surprise! First Squidoo does the right thing and restores my deleted article and now Greener Families does the right thing and deletes their illegal copy of it.

Two lessons I’ve learnt:

1. Don’t give up when you see injustice done: Write! Write the transgressors, use civil language, include sentences that tell them you can prove your claim, and copy legal language from websites who’ve gone through the same steps as you.

2. People in the wrong don’t apologise, don’t acknowledge they did wrong, and don’t let you know when they’ve rectified the situation. With people like Squidoo or Greener Families, it doesn’t matter really, other than it’s annoying, because I don’t have a personal relationship with them. But when it happens in a personal relationship, that relationship is doomed to superficiality at best and will likely fade away. For when the transgressor fails to admit wrong, apologise, and repent (change their mind, way of doing things), then the trangressed is likely to hold them at harm’s length even if s/he shows a smiling face to the transgressor. Don’t fool yourself. Being a coward and not apologising (in the hopes it’ll all go away and why can’t we all make nice) isn’t going to fix anything and will ruin what relationship you have left.

Now I can get back to my regularly scheduled programming. Yay!

Internet and Computers

Fighting Plagiarism and My Squidoo Article Restored

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As I blogged on the weekend, an article I had written back in the 1990s and had updated for publication on Squidoo.com, had been plagiarized by greenerfamilies.com. I immediately used Greener Families’s contact form to tell them to take it down. As of this writing, I have not heard anything from them.

So now that I’m feeling more human, I’ve followed the advice of two excellent articles on what to do when someone or some thing has plagiarized your work.

DevTopics in How to File a DMCA Complaint talks about splogs as an introduction on how to fight back. Until I read this post, I’d never heard of splogs before:

A splog or “spam blog” is a blog that steals content from other web sites, then aggregates and republishes the content on its own blog.”

I don’t know if greenerfamilies.com is a splog or not, but it is a strange site in that there are no last names and there is no contact information. Yet the site presents itself as a kind of company or organization that will help make people healthier and greener, a company that has professionals behind it. Legitimate companies that sell products to improve people’s lives have all sorts of information about themselves right on their websites. They don’t hide.

I also read Lorelle on WordPress’s article What Do You Do When Someone Steals Your Content. She has excellent tips on how to find out who is behind a website or blog and how to find contact  information.

Whois Search for GreenerFamilies 17 May 2011

The apparent owner of greenerfamilies.com also owns 33 other domains. That’s an awful lot of domains for a self-described doctor with a business. On greenerfamilies.com’s About page, John describes himself as a former Olympic athlete and a worldwide lecturer. Seems to me that someone with that kind of pedigree would not be hiding his last name. The photos look kind of, uh, generic for a couple of professionals.

About GreenerFamilies Cropped 17 May 2011

Using the email information DomainTools spat out, and using the templates both DevTopic and Lorelle on WordPress provided, I emailed a cease and desist message to the two email addresses I could find, namely jpahau@yahoo.com and registrars@ecommerce.com. I gave them until Friday for them to respond.

This is a Notice of Infringement as authorized in § 512(c) of the U.S. Copyright Law under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). This is to advise you that you are using copyrighted and protected material on your website/blog. Your illegal use of "Fat into Fuel" article at http://www.greenerfamilies.com/?p=55 is originally from my Squidoo website page called "A Nibble of Chocolate, Part Three" at http://www.squidoo.com/chocolatepartthree. This is original content, and I am the author and copyright holder. Use of copyright protected material without permission is illegal under U.S. and Canadian copyright laws.

Please remove this article immediately or we will file an official complaint with the U.S. Copyright Office, FeedBurner, and Google, Inc. Google’s response may include removing or disabling access to material claimed to be the subject of infringing activity and/or terminating subscribers.
I expect a response by Friday, May 20, 2011 to this issue. Thank you for your immediate action on this matter.

Shireen Jeejeebhoy

Meanwhile, I discovered through writing this email that – although they had not informed me — Squidoo had restored the chocolate article that they had locked out from the public and were about the delete, the same article that greenerfamilies.com had plagiarized. Was I ever surprised! Sometimes it pays to speak up. Sometimes there is a measure of justice.

Internet and Computers

My Copyrighted, Original Article on Chocolate was Plagiarized by greenerfamilies.com and Locked by Squidoo

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I am pissed.

Squidoo had locked Part Three of my series on chocolate and had notified me back in April. At the time, I was in the middle of a big writing project and was battling a virus (which got me second time round right at the beginning of May), and so I had little time or ability to look into it. To make it worse, the email they send is not real specific on why one’s own lens has been locked and unpublished. They give four reasons, and it’s up to you to figure out which applies. Needless to say, none of the reasons given fit my lens, particularly as it had been up for over two years (recorded publication date 02/17/2009). At that point, I didn’t have a lot of energy to figure out why then it was locked, and since this was not the first capricious locking of one of my lenses, I decided to ignore it and as soon as I had time, convert my entire “A Nibble of Chocolate” series into an ebook. I finished that conversion today, and my new ebook A Nibble of Chocolate is now live on Smashwords.

Dear Squidoo Lensmaster:

This is a notification that the following Squidoo lenses are in violation of our Terms of Service and have been unpublished.

http://www.squidoo.com/chocolatepartthree

==WHY WERE THESE LENSES UNPUBLISHED?==

We run regular and periodic reviews of lenses to enforce our policies, including (but not limited to) acting against spam content, locking lenses on topics we can’t support, lenses that exist solely to promote an affiliate program, and most recently we have also increased our systematic intolerance of aggressively duplicated (unoriginal) content and plagiarism.

Here are 4 resources you should read about our content policies on Squidoo. These links go into detail about several reasons that lenses get unpublished.

1. The Squidoo Originality Pact: http://www.squidoo.com/originalitypact
2. What Is Unoriginal, Duplicated Content? http://www.squidoo.com/original-vs-duplicate-content
3. SquidDon’t topics we don’t allow on Squidoo: http://www.squidoo.com/squiddont
4. Overly promotional lenses: http://www.squidoo.com/outboundlinklimit

==NOW WHAT?==

The above lenses have been unpublished in order to give you a chance to review the content and save it to take elsewhere. An unpublished lens is no longer live or viewable on the web, and will be removed from search engine indexes. The lens Workshop is still available to you for 30 days so that you can login and access the content and export it to your own computer. Any unpaid royalties the lenses might have earned before today will be donated to charity.

You can read more about your unpublished lenses here: http://www.squidoo.com/locked

We’d love to help you avoid the frustration of publishing a lens that gets unpublished, and hope the above guidelines help you make decisions about what kinds of lenses are worth your time in the future. Here are examples of good, original lenses that satisfy our content guidelines:å http://blogs.squidoo.com/lensoftheday

Please note that repeated violations going forward will result in the suspension of your entire Squidoo account. We encourage you to refamiliarize yourself with the policies posted above before creating a new lens.

Thanks for reading.

The Squidoo Content Team
Squidoo.com

As I was preparing to convert another of my Squidoo series to an ebook, I logged in to my dashboard and saw a whole bunch of lenses had gone from green to pink, which I thought meant they’d been unpublished for reasons unknown to me.

 

This puzzled me even more, and I decided to read that email again. I thought about the reasons they gave for locking my third chocolate lens, scanned my text for a phrase or sentence in that lens that may find my work if it had been plagiarized, and Googled it. I could not believe it. Someone had plagiarized it, the whole of it minus the introduction. Well, really, why should I be surprised? I put a lot of work and  time into it back in the 1990s when I first wrote it. I interviewed both Dr. Wang and Dr. Anderson, whom I know personally, as well as doing much literature research. It’s a dang good article.

However, that does not excuse greenerfamilies.com, run by a nurse and a doctor, Nancy and John, from copying it without asking me and without my permission and from publishing it on their website without attribution or any links back to the original article. Copyright theft is a legal infringement of the law under both Canada and the US Copyright Acts, and as Canada and  the US are signatories to an international copyright agreement, that means as a Canadian my copyright is enforceable in the US. Furthermore, I object to having my work associated with greenerfamilies.com.

Being a pack rat, I probably still have my original notes, and since I was taping my telephone interviews for my first book Lifeliner, I probably taped those interviews as well. I have all my computer files. And, most importantly, it’s got my writing style all over it. I do not know if Squidoo locked my lens on “A Nibble of Chocolate — A Hint of Theobromine” (Part Three in my chocolate series) because they found this plagiarized article, but if they did, they should have informed me that someone had copied my work. When I first joined Squidoo, I read about how they knew plagiarism of our own work was an issue. Assuming their computers had found this website, it is both egregious and outrageous that they did not contact me and that they assumed I was the one who copied it. This for-all-intents-and-purposes non-negotiable locking of a lens is particularly bad given how much time one must spend in putting a decent lens together. It is not as simple as typing out the text. You must have images; you must include different kinds of modules and learn how to use those modules; you must know how to tag and organize the lens; and you must keep up-to-date with Squidoo’s newest features and learn how to use those. It is not an easy website to use, requires knowledge of html, and requires maintenance of articles even if the content does not need updating or changing. Given all that, some email that forces you to guess about why your lens has been locked is unacceptable.

I Googled the original publication date on greenerfamilies.com website as they do not have a publication date on my stolen article. The search results do not show the date for the web page with page id=55; however, those web pages with page ids that have dates attached to them are between 7 March 2011 and 3 May 2011. The original home page (which obviously does not have a page id) has a date of 27 July 2007. All of these dates are well after when I first wrote this series on chocolate, and the web pages with page ids are two years or more after publication on Squidoo. So, assuming that discovery of this website is the reason for locking my lens, did Squidoo look at these dates? Did they notice that the lens they locked was the third in a series and written in the same style as the previous two lenses?

This whole thing makes me wonder if my Job lens (which I researched, developed, and wrote under the guidance of my Pastor and presented to a group) that was locked almost two years after being published online, was also plagiarized.

As for why the other lenses were moved from green to pink status, I have no idea, and I no longer care. I have limited energy, and I have no intention of wasting it on Squidoo any longer, beyond what I must. The lesson for me is that from now on, all my original articles or essays will either be published on my own website or as ebooks, depending on which is more appropriate. That way if there is an issue of copyright theft, I won’t have to deal with both the thief and a third-party website.

Lifeliner

The DRM and Price of eBooks

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There has been much discussion between publishers and between pundits about DRM: digital rights management.

DRM allows “copyright holders to prevent unauthorized duplication of their work, either to maintain artistic integrity or to ensure continued revenue streams.” (Wikipedia)

A book with DRM on it controls where an eBook can be read, how many copies — if any — can be made of it, if it can be printed, and if it can be shared. The idea is that the digital nature of eBooks allow books to be widely pirated in a way that old-fashioned print books cannot be (never mind that the inside page of a mass paperback usually had some sort of statement that if the cover was missing, the reader was reading a pirated book), and only DRM prevents that. Only DRM ensures authors — and publishers because this is really about the publishers — earn an income from eBooks.

However, after my experience with the trade paperback and hard cover versions of my book Lifeliner: The Judy Taylor Story, I think DRM is pointless. And I dispute the idea it ensures a continued revenue stream.

The first reason I think it’s pointless is because I have way more readers than purchased print books. After Lifeliner was originally published, what often happened was one person would buy and read one trade paperback version of Lifeliner. That paperback then moved from hand  to hand over and over again. I think one book was passed around to 16 people. If every person who read my book had bought it — something that DRM tries to enforce on the theory that it happens with print books — I may actually have an income. At first, when I discovered this mass sharing, I was shocked, then pissed, now I’m at the Gallic shrug stage. It would be nice if all those readers posted reviews or talked Lifeliner up on social media, but I’ve given up on that idea too. A few have sent me wonderful comments; fewer have helped me spread the word; one reader gave it 4 of 5 stars on Chapters Indigo. And those have made my day.

The second reason: DRM irritates the reader, like one person I follow on Twitter who bought the kobo only to discover her previously purchased eBooks can’t be read on it because of DRM. She owns the books; why can’t she read them on any eReader she wants to? It’s like saying I can read a paperback I purchased as long as I keep it in my bedroom, but if I store it on my kitchen bookshelf, then nope, no reading allowed.

The last reason I think it’s pointless is because I’m quite familiar with computers and know that someone somewhere is going to be able to break it. That person is the real pirate. Or someone rising to a challenge, as things like DRM are red flags to a bull. Or more likely those people who think there should be no copyright, who think that artists live to serve their reading and music needs and those artists ought not to earn a dime from their work but live in noble penury because they’re owed. Or maybe they just think we’re all U2s and Madonnas, Stephen Kings and JK Rowlings, and are so rolling in dough we shouldn’t be demanding people pay for our music or books. I wish. Anyway, the pirates and entitled will always find a way to get a book for free. Meanwhile most readers who have no trouble paying for artistic work will just be annoyed with me, with the DRM, and not purchase my book. And my main goal is to have as many eyeballs on my book as possible, so it’s a bit counter-productive to put DRM on Lifeliner. I also think it’s a lot easier to share a paperback than an eBook. With a print book, you just pick it up and hand it over, with no thoughts of piracy. With an eBook, you got to find the file, attach it to an e-mail or a wireless message of some sort, send it over, etc. etc. Sounds like too much work to me as a reader. It’s way easier to download it from the library or eBookstore and there’s no latent guilt involved. Copyright notices are much more visible on an eBook than on a print book.

Which brings me to the second big discussion about eBooks: price.

Recently, most big publishers went to war with Amazon to enforce what they call the Agency model of pricing. They have always made their money on hard covers because although those are few in sales numbers, the profit margins are high, and by releasing just the hard cover a few months ahead of the trade or mass paperback and the eBook, they force those who can’t wait to read their favourite author’s books to buy a hard cover. Some people prefer hard covers over any other kind of book, true, but most don’t want to pay the high price and heft the heavy book when reading and so wait. But publishers want to keep this tradition going. As a reader, and as an author who wants to maximize sales, I say bah to that.

Let readers decide which version they want to read: hard cover, paperback, eBook. Let readers decide on which platform they want to read their eBooks on: kobo, computer, Sony Reader, iPod or iPhone, iPad, Kindle. Let the massive marketing push done at the launch of any book benefit sales of every version of a book, not just the hard covers. Once the paperbacks and eBooks come out, months after the hard cover and after the big launch, they can no longer benefit from all the initial publicity. The author is left to ensure the word gets out, and readers are left to remember they were going to buy that book once it came out in paperback and eBook. I find that intensely annoying as a reader, waiting months for a book to come out in paperback so that I can read it.

iUniverse published Lifeliner in hard cover, trade paperback, and eBook (with limited distribution) all at once. Surprise, surprise, several people bought the hard covers even though it was $18 more than the eBook, and more bought the hard cover than the eBook. Meanwhile, I’ve just released a multi-format eBook, which is available much more widely than the iUniverse one, and already people who were happy for me when I published Lifeliner originally yet had not bought it then are buying it now. Why? The only difference between then and now: price and availability.

I’m issuing a limited-time coupon to celebrate this eBook launch, and this eBook is available in any format you can think of with no DRM attached. And even though the coupon — code TX53X at check out, good for 4 more days only, until May 31st — drops the price of the eBook from $4.99 to $1.99, I’m still receiving in royalties almost as much as I would if someone purchased my $16.95 (all prices US) trade paperback on Amazon.com. That’s how little authors receive from print books — and I receive higher royalties than if I’d gone the traditional route. That means, to put it crassly, I will earn more from low-priced multi-format, DRM-free eBooks than print books, assuming my marketing campaign works. And, in the end, so what if people share the non-DRM eBooks with their friends and family, co-workers and neighbours? They already do that with the paperbacks.

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News

Another Salvo in the Copyright Wars, This Time Over Videos

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Well, this is interesting. I had received an e-mail the other day from a Chris Hatcher, thanking me, along with a gazillion others listed in the “To:” line (did the guy never hear of Groups or Lists to maintain receiver privacy?!), for supporting eMotionBooks. Now the problem with an iffy memory is you don’t know if you really don’t know the person and he snagged your e-mail from some website or you just forgot him. Turns out, it was a bit of both.

Today I received an e-mail from Irene Watson of Reader Views, explaining that Hatcher was a video producer hired by her company to make book trailers. Reader Views retained the copyright of these videos, while giving authors, in her words, “the rights to post the book video (PreView) on any other websites or use it for marketing purposes, but, it has to be as is and not be altered.” Hatcher took these videos, stripped the credits out, and claimed them as his own, apparently.

Needless to say, Watson knows copyright, which is good, as it seems to be such a touchy subject for those who want to break it with impunity and a frustrating subject for those whose copyright is stolen under hubris of “terms of service” or just because.

Over a year ago, I hired Reader Views to create a book trailer for me, which Reader Views calls a PreView. Hatcher was the person who actually made it. After reading Watson’s e-mail, I remembered him. Nice guy. Very responsive to feedback. And so it’s quite surprising that he wrote me an e-mail that sounded like I knew all about his company and that, in the words of Watson, he “used videos he produced for Reader Views and put them on his website as well as YouTube and possibly other sites…posting them under the guise of being produced by his own company, eMotionBooks.”

It is too bad that Hatcher chose this route. It would’ve been much more sensible to approach all past Reader Views clients in the traditional way of reminding us who he is, that he’s set up a new video company, that this is what he offers, and to think of him if we decide to get another video done. Instead, he’s invited the wrath and the lawyers of a company to come down upon him. And in the US, unlike here in Canada, both authors and companies are prepared to enforce their copyright protection.

Internet and Computers

The Copyright Wars Pop Up on Indigo

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I haven’t heard yet what Indigo (chapters.indigo.ca) is going to do about its Terms of Service (TOS). I’ve been informed that the “legal team is working very hard to tackle the issue as soon as possible. They are discussing the Terms of Use at length with other legal experts to ensure your concerns are properly addressed.”

And so while I wait to hear what the lawyers have to say (which I’m sure will be couched in the most cover-the-ass gobbledygook), I’ve been involved in a conversation about copyright with a young Indigo employee. Every time I think the conversation is petering out, it rises up again. Copyright is definitely a hot topic. The discussion is frustrating and engaging. It’s enlightening about how some young minds think and informative about copyright. And it’s come close to degenerating to all-out war.

It makes for a rivetting read — you’ve got to check it out! — and I’m still mulling over what to do with what I’ve learnt. One thing I ought to do is digitally protect my writings on this website better. And if I could afford it, I would digitally watermark my photographs. It’s a sad, sad day that I must do this. It’s sad that people feel entitled to steal and take ownership of words and pictures just because it’s out in the public sphere, yet the whole point of art is for public consumption. Balancing public consumption with retaining ownership is a fine line that rests on the respect of all consumers and companies towards artists. Perhaps the tension created by the few who give no respect will never be resolved, and artists will always be fighting the copyright wars, only the turf will change from generation to generation.

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Internet and Computers

Copyright, Moral Right Theft Continued: The Indigo Chapters Version

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So because of the Facebook debacle and after reading a blog post comparing* various Terms of Service (TOS), I checked out the TOSes of the social media websites I belong to. I left the Indigo Chapters community to last — in fact I didn’t even think about it, being Canadian and aimed at serving authors, until I happened to log on — and was shocked at what I read. Now, I know I have trouble reading, and had real trouble with comprehending technical passages when I signed up for Indigo Chapters Community over a year ago, but I’m sure I would have gone haring off in the other direction when I read this and understood what it meant:

“The User acknowledges that any content, e-mails, postings, offers, software, videos, photos, text, graphics, music, sounds, questions, creative suggestions, messages, feedback, ideas, recipes, notes, drawings, articles, stories or other information, data, materials and opinions (including, without limitation any postings on community forums) (“Submissions”) that he or she may provide, e-mail, post, upload or otherwise transmit to the Website shall be deemed and shall remain the property of Indigo, including all copyright, without reservation, and User waives in favour of Indigo any and all moral rights in such Submissions. “

What people were outraged about with Facebook was their attempt at copyright theft; but here Indigo says outright it’s taking copyright away from the users and with no compensation whatsoever. Unlike most social media sites, it doesn’t even acknowledge that users ought to have the right to retain copyright on their own work. In addition, it’s claiming that we’re waiving our moral rights too. Now, I’m not sure they can actually enforce the latter without a signature on our part, but it would take a lot of dough to take them to court to find out plus no one could do it unless they discovered a misuse of their works in which their name was still attached.

So what do I do? I’ll probably remain a member because, unlike with Facebook, I have to enter all my content manually. For comments in community forums, where I write small snippets, copyright theft will be no big deal…except that it pisses me off and with waiving moral rights, we’re all opening ourselves up to having our words used in a way that we wouldn’t agree with yet still having our name attached to them.

I’ll definitely stop posting longer writings and reviews. I was thinking of replacing reviews with links to them here on my website, until I read this totally incomprehensible clause:

“By including a link to the Website on a Third Party Site, User automatically grants, and represents and warrants that it has the right to grant, to Indigo an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use the Website in order to link to, use, copy, publish, stream, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part), summarize, and distribute the content, links and other materials of any kind residing on any web pages on which User places the link.”

Maybe I shan’t post a link after all. This is waaaaayyyy too complicated to read and to understand. If someone can explain it to me and all my readers, that would be great!

I’m starting to understand why all these rights grabs: in the knowledge economy corporations compete by not hiring original creators, instead they acquire their money-making content for free through these TOSes without any responsibility, either in payment or in ethical use, to the creator.

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———————————————-

*The author Amanda L. French, Ph.D, summarized Facebook’s TOS in terms of those from other social media thusly (her blog may be down from too many hits, that’s why I’ve copied it here):

Conclusion? Go ahead and be outraged. Facebook’s claims to your content are extraordinarily grabby and arrogant. Here’s the rundown, which I go through in more detail below:

  1. Facebook apparently wants to keep all its rights to your stuff after you remove it from Facebook, and even after you delete your Facebook account; they just removed the lines that specified that their rights end when your content comes down. Nobody else (of those I looked at) would dream of that; mostly they specifically state that their rights to your content end when you remove the content from their site or delete your account.
  2. This one kills me: Facebook claims it can do whatever it wants with your content if you put a Share on Facebook link on your web page. Unbelievable–and unique, as far as I can tell. People can post links in Facebook to your content just by copying and pasting the URL, but if you want to save them a few keystrokes by putting a link or a widget on your site, Facebook claims that you’ve granted them a whole mess of rights. Count me out.
  3. Other sites point out in their terms of service that you still own your content: Facebook doesn’t mention that little fact. Facebook also neglects to remind you that you’re giving other Facebook users rights to your Facebook content, too — YouTube, for example, makes it clear that other people besides YouTube have a right to use and spread around the videos you upload. In general, other sites’ terms of service just have a more helpful tone.
Internet and Computers

Copyright, Moral Rights, and The Facebook Face-Off

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As a writer, you gotta navigate the copyright minefield when contracting with journals, newspapers, magazines, publishers. Before my injury, when I was trying to get my work published, I discovered some magazines were better than others in working with writers and not trying to take their copyright for free. And one magazine was really bad cause they wanted your moral rights too. Any author who waives their moral rights has gum for brains because then the publisher can totally screw up your work and your name is forever associated with bad work.

But that was easy compared to what’s going on now. First Amazon hogs more of the income from a book, gypping the writer of the already-puny amount they get from the sale of each book. Now Facebook has amended its Terms of Service, in secret, grabbing all copyrights and moral rights in perpetuity. It was on Twitter of all places that Facebookers discovered what FB had done. One benefit of belonging to a zillion social media sites!

Facebookers are outraged. People from all over are weighing in, asking good questions, making excellent points, and giving sound advice. I liked what Kelly Doren wrote about staying with FB in the short term, “to see how your company, its management and legal team respond to this issue. But be sure, if this TOS is not changed to be respectful of users intellectual property, I will leave, and encourage as man y members as I can to do likewise.” I think I will follow his lead and stay in the short term, until I see their response and thus understand their intent better.

Meanwhile, why can’t people just be allowed to enjoy the great opportunities the web offers without having to memorize copyright law to navigate the shenanigans of some big brother corporation trying to steal and possibly misuse your intellectual property, family pictures, and off-the-cuff musings?

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