Terms of Services Kinda Like Open Licenses – But Evil

The Combined Arms Research Library has a good post on the upside of the latest version of Twitter’s terms of service (“Twitter can do WHAT with your photos?“) .

The language is very similar to the MIT/X11 License in that the copyright holder is licensing their work to others and the licensees can do as they wish with the work – adapt, distribute, sell, etc. In the case of the MIT/X11 – those freedoms apply to everyone. In the case of Twitter’s Terms of Service – it’s just, um, Twitter Corp.

Yes, Facebook’s, Blogger’s, TypePad’s, WordPress.com’s, Tumblr’s, Posterous’s, and many others‘ terms of service all have similar language.

It’d be far more interesting, innovative, and plain simpler, if the lawyers at these services declared anything published through them was automatically licensed under a more well-known license like the MIT/X11, GPL, or Creative Commons. That license change would also be a boon for the driving creative innovation around that work and become a magnet for people interested in publishing under these open terms. Instead, it feels like these services are trying to get away with stealing.

While music and book publishers are being chastised for crazy low royalty rates – social networks have eliminated them completely and are praised for their innovativeness.

Rightfully so – they’ve attracted millions of creators and eliminated both the advance to create the work and the royalties on its commercial usage.

Elsewhere:

“We tend to like the primary uses of that data (Amazon book recommendations), it’s the secondary uses we’re not so crazy about (third-party datamines sold to anyone for anything).” – Bruce Schneier, DefCon 15, 2007

“Any smart CEO would kill to have a product like you that doesn’t cost anything and keeps renewing itself indefinitely so it can be sold and resold and resold to many different customers.” – Jacques Vallee

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