OSP's & User Content - FB TOS

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OSP’s & Ownership of User-Created Content : 

OSP’s & Ownership of User-Created Content The Facebook T.O.S. Scandal Lara M. Ali MBAA 609, Spring 2009

Facebook : 

Facebook Online Service Provider (OSP) Social Networking Site that enables users to create personal profiles and publish various types of content Public profiles viewable by everyone Private profiles viewable by restricted audience, which user selects 175 million users Similar sites: Myspace, LinkedIn, Twitter

Facebook’s New TOS : 

Facebook’s New TOS February 4th, 2009 – Facebook changed its Terms of Service. It excluded previous language about the perpetuity of user created content on its site.

Facebook TOS - Backlash : 

Facebook TOS - Backlash Online blog “The Consumerist” noticed the quiet change and launched a massive, Internet-wide uproar against the new Terms Next morning, EPIC filed a formal 25-page complaint with the Federal Trade Commission Facebook Group was created the same day – “People Against The New Terms of Service” – and was 90,000 members strong within hours Two days later, Facebook reverted back to old TOS in response to the uproar So, what was everyone complaining about?

Facebook TOS – What’s the Problem? : 

Facebook TOS – What’s the Problem? New TOS no longer promised that the use of member content would “expire” once the user deleted his/her account. Online community interpreted this to mean that Facebook owns user’s personal information – photos, music, emails- and can use it without permission, for its own gain, forever. This causes two specific ethical problems: Invasion of Privacy Copyright Infringement

Online Service Providers – Ethical Issues : 

Online Service Providers – Ethical Issues PRIVACY Emails Photographs Blogs Status updates Music Videos COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT Intellectual Property is not very well protected Online Publishers of creative content can be harmed b/c OSP can profit from use of their music/writing/art/etc. “Non-exclusive” licensing

Current OSP Landscape – Copyright Issues : 

Current OSP Landscape – Copyright Issues Most OSP’s Terms of Service focus heavily on copyright concerns. “Non-exclusive” licenses OSP does not have “exclusive” ownership of user content But can still re-use it or keep it in public distribution But these licenses limit the scope of the OSP’s use of content – only things in connection with the normal services it provides

Current OSP Landscape – Perpetual Licenses : 

Current OSP Landscape – Perpetual Licenses Most service providers claim perpetual use of content Google & Yahoo! Have perpetual licenses to non-pictorial content Claim they need perpetual use of content like emails, photographs and videos because of Copyright Law Ex.) Email - Without a non-exclusive perpetual license, after a user has deleted account, Facebook would have to go into other users’ inboxes to delete every email that user has sent – time consuming, impossible.

Web 3.0 – Ethical Dangers : 

Web 3.0 – Ethical Dangers Web 2.0 is successful because sites like Facebook allow users to create their own custom service for FREE. Others like Google, Craigslist, Twitter, LinkedIn & Picasa have this same model Web 3.0 is where ethical missteps can happen. MONETIZING millions of users who have grown accustomed to free online experiences The reason for the Facebook TOS change is so that FB could PROFIT from users by using their content. Other OSP’s will continue to find ways to do this that may be underhanded.

Conclusion : 

Conclusion OSP’s user base continues to grow and their need to profit from these users will trump ethical obligations Terms of Service are written with the ultimate goal of protecting the OSP, but there are many grey areas that will cause legal/ethical dilemmas Today’s legal environment does not clearly delineate the rules of the game for IP on the Web FB scandal will happen again and again until laws preclude them in the future

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