Why it's important to "own" your content

I'm connecting the dots between two otherwise unrelated items that were in my Google Reader inbox this morning.

  1. Random Mind: USC Film Students Fight Back
  2. Dave Tosh: Data Ownership

The first article is about students at USC Film School realizing that the copyright for their student films belongs to USC. Which means they can't do things like post their work to YouTube, or enter them at Sundance (without first going through channels to get approval from USC). I'm assuming that USC asserts copyright over student works because there might be a chance to monetize - it is Film, after all. Are there other examples of schools asserting copyright over student works? Why hasn't this been flagged as an issue before this?

The second article is about data ownership and privacy wrt Facebook. Facebook owns everything that goes on, and in, Facebook. Because they own the whole widget, soup to nuts, they get to control what happens to and with our data. They can decide to expose, aggregate, process, and sell our data to third parties. It's not really a free service.

Both articles emphasize the importance of owning your content and data. In an environment where you retain copyright for your own creations (ideally, sharing with something like a CreativeCommons license), you get to decide what you can do with your own stuff. Extend that to an environment where you are in control of your own personal data (or identity). OpenID and Sxip are both steps in the right direction there.

The bottom line is, when you give up ownership of your own content and data, you lose freedom.

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