on facebook's blanket license


fblogoFacebook recently revised the terms of service for their website. They have a right to do so. I have a right not to like the new terms. Here's the snippet that put the last nail in the Facebook-as-content-application coffin for me:

Licenses
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.

Previously, I had stopped using Facebook's Flickr application because it was designed to suck copies of the photos into Facebook's server farm rather than linking to my copy of the photos on Flickr. When they changed that design so that it was just a link, I was cool with connecting Flickr and Facebook again. Now, the revised terms appear to mean Facebook thinks it can do whatever it wants with any of my stuff.

Nuh uh. Don't think so. Now Facebook is simply to maintain that portion of my digital identity - I guess to keep in touch with people I chose not to keep in touch with for decades anyway... Wait, why do I still have a Facebook account?

Actually, to be completely honest, I'm not sure when that quoted clause was added. I just noticed it today after giving the terms a full read because of the recent brouhaha about the terms of use. The clause could have been there for weeks, months, years. It doesn't matter. That's the clause that makes Facebook inappropriate for hosting any of my content.

I'm usually fine with granting licenses to websites, because their terms of service usually include some form of limitation on their use - most often something like "... for conducting the daily operation of the website..." or somesuch - basically, granting a license for the service to store the content and publish it online as part of what the website actually does. For comparison, here's the relevant bits of the Flickr/Yahoo! terms of service:

CONTENT SUBMITTED OR MADE AVAILABLE FOR INCLUSION ON THE YAHOO! SERVICES

Yahoo! does not claim ownership of Content you submit or make available for inclusion on the Yahoo! Services. However, with respect to Content you submit or make available for inclusion on publicly accessible areas of the Yahoo! Services, you grant Yahoo! the following worldwide, royalty-free and non-exclusive license(s), as applicable:

  • With respect to Content you submit or make available for inclusion on publicly accessible areas of Yahoo! Groups, the license to use, distribute, reproduce, modify, adapt, publicly perform and publicly display such Content on the Yahoo! Services solely for the purposes of providing and promoting the specific Yahoo! Group to which such Content was submitted or made available. This license exists only for as long as you elect to continue to include such Content on the Yahoo! Services and will terminate at the time you remove or Yahoo! removes such Content from the Yahoo! Services.
  • With respect to photos, graphics, audio or video you submit or make available for inclusion on publicly accessible areas of the Yahoo! Services other than Yahoo! Groups, the license to use, distribute, reproduce, modify, adapt, publicly perform and publicly display such Content on the Yahoo! Services solely for the purpose for which such Content was submitted or made available. This license exists only for as long as you elect to continue to include such Content on the Yahoo! Services and will terminate at the time you remove or Yahoo! removes such Content from the Yahoo! Services.
  • With respect to Content other than photos, graphics, audio or video you submit or make available for inclusion on publicly accessible areas of the Yahoo! Services other than Yahoo! Groups, the perpetual, irrevocable and fully sublicensable license to use, distribute, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, publicly perform and publicly display such Content (in whole or in part) and to incorporate such Content into other works in any format or medium now known or later developed.

"Publicly accessible" areas of the Yahoo! Services are those areas of the Yahoo! network of properties that are intended by Yahoo! to be available to the general public. By way of example, publicly accessible areas of the Yahoo! Services would include Yahoo! Message Boards and portions of Yahoo! Groups and Flickr that are open to both members and visitors. However, publicly accessible areas of the Yahoo! Services would not include portions of Yahoo! Groups that are limited to members, Yahoo! services intended for private communication such as Yahoo! Mail or Yahoo! Messenger, or areas off of the Yahoo! network of properties such as portions of World Wide Web sites that are accessible via hypertext or other links but are not hosted or served by Yahoo!.

Flickr/Yahoo!'s terms are much more restrictive, and I'm completely comfortable with them. The unrestricted blanket license claimed by Facebook is just plain evil.


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