Right on! Reading the Fine Print: Terms of Service

Jackson West has penned a great explanation of the ToS materials on YouTube. Where’s the best place to store your digital video content? How safe is it? Do you retain ownership or are sites positioning their intentions to ensure they can wrest control of it in the future?

The rule of thumb – if you’re in to making money from your UGC, use sites like YouTube as a site to distribute your free stuff, not the Oscar-winning film noir that’s going to make you the big bucks.  

From NewTeeVee:

As online media becomes more professional, it becomes critical to start examining the fine print. Traditionally, entertainers had agents and lawyers to do this for them — and take a hefty cut in the process. In this do-it-yourself, jack-of-all-trades business, though, it behooves you to cultivate an appreciation for legalese. Specifically, get to know the terms of service on a site before you start uploading your videos.

For starters, the safest place to put your online video content in terms of defending your rights to it down the road is on a site you maintain. You set the terms of what, when and how people view your work, can go crazy with advertising and sponsorship, aren’t bound by anyone’s concept of obscenity and stand a much better chance of keeping your work up in the wake of a nastygram.

But the second you put a video on a video publishing platform, you’re agreeing to all the fine print. While these are usually boilerplate arrangements, and abuses of content are largely in the hypothetical stage at this point, it’s a good idea to be wary, or at least shrewd. (Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, nor have I played one on TV — if you have serious questions, hire one, there’s lots of ‘em.)

Let’s take a look at the critical section of YouTube’s terms of use, since that’s the biggest gorilla in the room.

For clarity, you retain all of your ownership rights in your User Submissions.

This is good. It basically means that beyond the following rights you’re granting to YouTube, you’re not ceding any rights to ownership of the materials.

However, by submitting User Submissions to YouTube, you hereby grant YouTube a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the User Submissions in connection with the YouTube Website and YouTube’s (and its successors’ and affiliates’) business including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the YouTube Website (and derivative works thereof) in any media formats and through any media channels.

There’s always a “however,” isn’t there? Basically, this is saying that you are giving YouTube the rights to display your content, make backup copies on servers, give its business partners (such as Google and Apple) rights under these terms and deliver the video via different channels. It’s that last part that could, theoretically be abused — for instance, for a “America’s Funniest YouTube Videos” airing on ABC Sundays at seven or available on DVD at your local Blockbuster.

You also hereby grant each user of the YouTube Website a non-exclusive license to access your User Submissions through the Website, and to use, reproduce, distribute, display and perform such User Submissions as permitted through the functionality of the Website and under these Terms of Service.

Here’s where YouTube makes sure that you can’t go after people embedding content you’ve uploaded to YouTube. Earlier in the document, YouTube makes it clear that if third-party sites slather YouTube-hosted videos with ads, they will go after you. Basically, if you figure out how to make money off videos submitted to YouTube before they do, expect a letter from the legal team (or maybe an acquisition offer, who knows).

The above licenses granted by you in User Videos terminate within a commercially reasonable time after you remove or delete your User Videos from the YouTube Service.

Here’s the critical juncture. At any point, you can choose to opt out of these terms simply by deleting your videos. So if you do see yourself punching your own groin on ABC or on DVD packaging, it’s time to start threatening to take down your content unless you get a piece of the action (if that sounds like extortion, welcome to showbiz, baby).

You understand and agree, however, that YouTube may retain, but not display, distribute, or perform, server copies of User Submissions that have been removed or deleted.

Admittedly, this sounds a tad creepy — the first thought that came to my mind was, “Wow, so that’s what happens to all the porn that’s presumably still being uploaded but never displayed on the site.” Seriously though, this simply means that YouTube’s not going to go through every redundant backup of source material looking for your clip to make sure traces no longer exist, and maybe save them some re-encoding time if you relent and post your video again.

The above licenses granted by you in User Comments are perpetual and irrevocable.

Long story short — don’t write the great American novel in the comments. What it may have in over-the-top postmodern statement, it will lack in terms of your ability to sell exclusive rights down the road.

Of course, that’s just the meat of the matter for content creators (here’s a bullet guide to the rest). You’ll find similar, but not exactly the same, language on most other sites where you can post video. Blip.tv has the courtesy of only granting itself non-commercial rights to re-display your content off site (as well as offering the choice of Creative Commons or public domain licensing of your work).

The other thing to note is that YouTube, and most other sites, reserves the right to change its terms at any point without notfication. By leaving your work on the site, and continuing to upload work, you automatically agree to those changes in its terms. And of course, it also reserves the right to delete you and your videos from the system for all sorts of violations, real or perceived, or none at all.

None of these terms, from YouTube or most other sites, are particularly heinous. But if you are looking at producing online video as a business, you might not want to rely on YouTube or any other site as a primary vehicle for delivering your content, but rather a convenient place to further distribute and promote work you’re making freely available from your own site already.

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DERTy Link #5: Photosynth (stunning)

Presented at TED in March 2007, Photosynth is one of the most incredible demonstrations we’ve seen, not just for the visual capabilities but the innovative use of photo social networks like flickr.

Seadragon is compelling enough, but using the catalogued images from photo sites to build a composite of a famous landmark (they use Notre Dame here) is utter genius. It’s a great example of how meta-tagging can be used to enormous success; the possibilities a pretty infinate

Watch it all, it’s well worth it.

Hype machine

Gartner has released its latest hype cycle, showing that convergent telephones, ultramobile devices and “portable personality” are what we’re all talking about right now. On the other hand, IPTV, mobile TV and broadband video on demand don’t seem to be getting the tech crowd’s pulses racing.

See what The Guardian’s Bobbie Johnson had to make of it here     

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You’re Rank!

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 Edel’ AR man, Jonny Bentwood must’ve been shirking his 9-5 duties because he’s come up with a pretty significant ranking system for the blogosphere!

His Social Media Index attempts to rank blogs not by the basic number of subscribers, hits and links, but by their impact and relevance within a broader range of social media – Facebook, Twitter, del.i.cio.us, etc. His thoughts….

Traditionally, an individual’s web influence was measured by the success of their blog. In its simplest form this was done by counting how many people subscribed and linked to it. However, in today’s Web 2.0 world, this is no longer a credible metric as people are currently using a variety of different social media tools to inform and hold conversations with their audience.

FACT: There is a definitive need to assess any social media publisher’s influence on the market as a whole.

What is becoming increasingly clear is that the more engaged an individual is within the different channels available, the broader influence that person has.

I have developed a model, which recognises and attempts to quantify the impact and influence of multiple social media tools.

FACT: This methodology is not the standard.
The standard is a long way down the road. I have selected one way (of many) to analyse different individuals and I would like this post to provoke debate so that together the community can create a standard. This could include what social media tools to analyse (e.g. Facebook or MySpace or both?) and what weighting should be given to each category (e.g. is Twitter just as important as blogging?).

I admit that I am comparing apples and pears, adding them together and giving a total. I am sure that this would make any statistician have a coronary – but without any other scale to work on I have created my own index and hope that it can act as a catalyst to create something better.

 Tables, methodology and results on the Social Media Index after the jump 

Foil Hat Alert!!!

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I’m always up for listening to a good conspiracy story; David Icke‘s lizard wonderland, Roswell, JFK, they’re all good ‘shady-wink-complicated-handshake-knowing-nod’ fodder. But some are a little more rational than others, and a little bit closer to home.

We saw this earlier today – FaceBook is the latest in a long line of ‘digital conspiracy’ targets and Commongroundcommonsense has produced a pretty exhaustive investigation in to the connections between the site, a group of shadowy benefactors and the US government. Questions are asked about the security of the site, access to the information and the future use of that information.

This is nothing new – last year, AOL opened it’s vaults and published details of over 650,000 US search terms, while  Google has come under cynical fire in the past for warehousing personal information via Google DeskTop. This knee-jerk reaction is nothing new and as long as we are offered increasingly prevalent online services like internet banking, consumers will be torn between the desire for convenience and and the fear of poor security (it’s something Edelman has quite a bit of experience with through our client Get Safe Online [GSOL])

But the social networking phenomenon brings a slightly expanded issue – notions of security no longer just concern the financially critical information in our daily lives; they involve tastes and beliefs and desires, the declaration of intricate personal detail, available to the increasingly opinionated masses. 

The social implications of Web 2.0 and its burgeoning role within cultural constructs are a constant discussion round our way.  Social networks are encouraging the ‘narcissistic voyuer’ to impart as much of themselves as possible to anyone who cares to look, but little consideration is given to that information once posted. Base motivation for many comes from having the most friends, membership to the most groups and social validation from as many varied groups and individuals as possible. It may seem fairly innocuous when you add it but the volume of information posted gives rich pickings to anyone who wants it, to the point that the public domain has been amplified to an incredible level. The promotion of personal information encourages the attention, but are we declaring too much? And once declared, are we offering ourselves to be used by the highest paying customer?

You tell me.

Check out the video after the jump….

C0ld Coffee…

Edelman tech beheomoth, Jonathan Hargreaves, has started the C0ld Coffee blog, a blog for his musings and a forum for discussions, Specifically thinking about some of the strangeness that is all around us.  I can’t decide if this is caused by new web communications or whether people, indeed society is simply getting weirder or a combination of the both. 

 Intense stuff. It’s kicked of with a lively discusison on Society 2.0…

San Francisco … you can’t escape the news anywhere. Pictures of bombs and images in the UK made their way within 5 minutes to West Coast and rest assured at 2am Hargreaves was still working hard. Then in the papers on the way back reading cc TV pictures of burning jeeps and people it occurred to me that this frenzied media overload is another factor of society 2.0. It’s less about the technology than the transparency that results, the 24 hour monitoring of everything.

This means you can’t hide things anymore and you can’t just say how it’s going to be without some kind of backlash whether it’s the decision to go to war or an Olympic logo. Now while this good and all democratic I am wondering whether it just makes life too stressful. I mean once upon a time people were paid to design or make war and they were the expert and the rest of us had a sense of respect. Today this transparency means we are all expected to have a view, so is Society2.0 a world of critics? And is this truly a good thing?

 Join the debate after the jump

And you thought Windows 1.0 was dead…

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The Edelman tech team yesterday made sure the “ticking time bomb” of not being able to access old file formats was safely defused in an event for our Microsoft client in partnership with the UK National Archives.  

Not being able to access older file formats is a growing problem as new machines simply don’t support technologies such as the good old floppy disk, unlike the paper that sits on the shelves of the British Library.

In an effort to combat the problem the National Archives will be able to emulate older versions of Microsoft programs to ensure that all information developed on systems that have been consigned to the technological scrapheap is not lost. 

Read the BBC coverage of the event here, including a video of Microsoft’s UK MD, Gordon Frazer, showing the emulation in action.