The irrevocable rights we relinquish when we publish to the Web. (It’s not just Posterous, folks.)

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As many of you already know, I’ve fallen in love with the Posterous tool as the easiest way to publish to the web—especially for the non-tech, potentially digitally-divided communities. If you can email, you can post to Posterous. 

So I get a little defensive when I see something like this on Twitter:

Didya know: You grant Posterous the irrevocable, fully transferable rights to use, reproduce, distribute, modify… 

I responded: 
IOW, Posterous requires a basic Creative Commons Attribution license. You still retain ownership and copyright of your stuff.

And this is true. These terms of service (TOS) are very similar to the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike license (without the attribution). But with Creative Commons select the licensing. You don’t have a choice when you use Posterous. They require certain rights detailed here:

You shall retain all of your ownership rights in your User Submissions; however, by submitting material to Posterous you grant Posterous the irrevocable, fully transferable rights to use, reproduce, distribute, modify, transmit, prepare derivative works of, display and produce the material in connection with Posterous and Posterous’s business, but solely in accordance with these Terms of Use and our Privacy Policy.

But Posterous’s terms are no more onerous than the other web tools we’re all using (including Twitter, where this conversation began). (Do I hear “boilerplate”?) In fact, Google has blanket terms (below) for all their stuff as well as specific terms for their various tools like Blogger. (I would hope the Gmail TOS isn’t granting Google the right to share content from my email!)

I’m not worried about this personally and just assume this allows for some marketing on the part of the tool vendor for which they can use content I’ve placed on their site. I trust that they won’t do something stupid or offensive with my content and I hope that they will let folks know where the content came from. 

I pulled up some TOS statements around repurposing your content with links back to the TOS pages. Remember, you still own it and you have the copyright. All of these sites also state that clearly. (I didn’t look at the Facebook TOS but I assume it has similar language.)

Twitter

You retain your rights to any Content you submit, post or display on or through the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through the Services, you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed).

Tumblr

Subscriber shall own all Subscriber Content that Subscriber contributes to the Site, but hereby grants and agrees to grant Tumblr a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free, transferable right and license (with the right to sublicense), to use, copy, cache, publish, display, distribute, modify, create derivative works and store such Subscriber Content and to allow others to do so (“Content License”) in order to provide the Services.

By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through Google services which are intended to be available to the members of the public, you grant Google a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license to reproduce, publish and distribute such Content on Google services for the purpose of displaying and distributing Google services. 

By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive licence to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. 

One thought on “The irrevocable rights we relinquish when we publish to the Web. (It’s not just Posterous, folks.)

  1. Anonymous

    Yes, posting through services like this, as I’m doing via Facebook/Posterous right now, all trigger the TOS for granting rights to the host company. And, it’s nice that Posterous employs Creative Commons for authors to explicitly retain their rights. Still, it is a dual licensing approach that needs to be acknowledged for it’s limitations as such. If you write a blog that goes viral–both parties would own publishing rights to that content. That doesn’t affect most people, but we should be informed of our choices. Freemium is nice, but there may be a hidden price paid. I’m not against using these services. I use them both personally and professionally, but I also steer people and organizations to systems that allow them to own their important content without compromise.Are there alternatives? If you have a credit card and can budget $5/month there are many commodity web hosting services where you can turn on a blog that you own unconditionally. I’d be interested in learning about user-friendly posting services without the ‘onerous ‘ TOS. Has anybody used any of the services such as any launched by past winners of the Knight News Challenge?http://newschallenge.org/winners

    Reply

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