[iDC] Terms of Agreement: The Internet as Playground and Factory

Korinna Patelis kpatelis at aueb.gr
Tue Jun 16 09:10:56 UTC 2009


Reading the post below as well as numerous papers on terms of service and so on in academic journals,  i feel that focusing on the actual literal terms of service or privacy when we discuss ownership and content overshadows the more general problems with content ownership and content structure in social media. I dont feel the problem with all the user generated content living in commercialised social media spaces should be approached as a contractual issue between users and companies. It is a far more complicated and indeed far more abstract problem then that. The power of a commercial company like facebook cannot be reduced to its power to provide its users with the terms of use it wants. At the same time the actual terms of service are sign of that power. 

So i feel it woulld be usefull to contextualise disussionss on contracts with discussions of the power of commercial media and above all with debates on the structures of representations of social media and the power to determine these. I understand this might seem obvious and self evident  but I think that its important to constantly reflect on commerial power if we dont want to become to legalistic.

To put this in user terms: that facebook wont allow me to dislike something a friend has done, or that i cant have enemies on my profile determines the content i will upload in ways more intersting than the actual terms of service. And i think that we need to address such determination at the same time as we address the problem of who owns my content


 Korinna Patelis (www.aueb.gr/users/patelis)

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Cynthia Beth Rubin 
  To: idc at mailman.thing.net 
  Cc: Cynthia Beth Rubin 
  Sent: Tuesday, June 16, 2009 2:56 AM
  Subject: [iDC] Terms of Agreement: The Internet as Playground and Factory

  I want to return to the issue of ownership of posts on web sites.  

  Would it be possible to use this discussion to define reasonable terms of agreement for users on all social networking sites?  

  I do believe that this is possible, because of a real-life experience with changing Terms of Agreement.  The alumni association of Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, signed an agreement with iModules to provide a kind of "Facebook" experience for those of us who are alums.  When some of read the "Terms of Agreement", it turned out that we agreeing to give everything away. Some of us freaked and asked for new terms (we worked together to write them).  It worked.  Quite honestly, I suspect that the ridiculous terms were written by attorneys with little understanding of social networking sites.  No one at iModules thought that we were wrong to ask for new terms.

  Below are some phrases from the current Terms of Agreement on the Antiochians.org site (our alumni site -- and yes -- we are still in existence)

    7. Content submitted to this site
    We do not assert any ownership over user content; rather, as between us and you, subject to the rights granted to us in these Terms and Conditions, you retain full ownership of all of your content and any intellectual property rights or other proprietary rights associated with your content.  . . . 

    xxxxxxxxxx(lots of stand stuff) - xxxxxxxxxxx

    If you wish to grant other users or the general public additional licenses to your content, you may include such terms with your content such as:
    Usage granted under Creative Commons License

  Cynthia Beth Rubin



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