Sunday, March 13, 2005

Is AOL out to grab your material?

AOL says no, but the discovery of some language in its Terms of Service that's been floating around for about a year has some corners of the blog world abuzz. The terms:

Content You Post
You may only post Content that you created or which the owner of the Content has given you. You may not post or distribute Content that is illegal or that violates these Terms of Service. By posting or submitting Content on any AIM Product, you represent and warrant that (i) you own all the rights to this Content or are authorized to use and distribute this Content on the AIM Product and (ii) this Content does not and will not infringe any copyright or any other third-party right nor violate any applicable law or regulation.
Although you or the owner of the Content retain ownership of all right, title and interest in Content that you post to any AIM Product, AOL owns all right, title and interest in any compilation, collective work or other derivative work created by AOL using or incorporating this Content. In addition, by posting Content on an AIM Product, you grant AOL, its parent, affiliates, subsidiaries, assigns, agents and licensees the irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide right to reproduce, display, perform, distribute, adapt and promote this Content in any medium. You waive any right to privacy. You waive any right to inspect or approve uses of the Content or to be compensated for any such uses.
Steve Rubel at Micro Persuasion has a rebuttal from an AOL spokesman -- and rebuttals to the rebuttal from numerous others. Some of the debate seems to be whether using AIM is "posting" comment to AOL. Amy Gahran at Contentious is urging people to abandon AIM and has a lengthy look at other terms of service agreements as well.

I know one of my former employers uses AIM internally. Wonder how it would feel if it knew?

UPDATE: AOL clarifies its policy and its terms.

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