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Reading Between the Lines of Terms of Use.
This week we’ll continue our discussion of Terms of Use / Terms of Service.  This blog post is the 2nd in a series of 4 posts, which focuses on what rights you [potentially] give up when you click ACCEPT.  Below we will examine selected portions from Facebook Terms, Twitter Terms of Service, and LinkedIn’s TOU.

Terms of Service

Terms of Use. Terms of Service.


Facebook Terms of Use
tell you that you retain the rights to your content AND they state in tiny print that you give Facebook the right to do almost anything they want with it, including give others the right to do the same (sublicense). Check this out:
“… Sharing Your Content and Information.
You own all of the content and information you post on Facebook, and you can control how it is shared through your privacy and application settings. In addition:

  1. For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.” ***
  2. When you publish content or information using the Public setting, it means that you are allowing everyone, including people off of Facebook, to access and use that information, and to associate it with you (i.e., your name and profile picture).”

Twitter’s Terms of Use
provide the same language as Facebook, and goes a step further by specifically saying that you [potentially] grant Twitter the right to create derivative works of your content. See below:
“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)….” ***
“… Such additional uses by Twitter,  or other companies, organizations or individuals who partner with Twitter, may be made with no compensation paid to you with respect to the Content that you submit, post, transmit or otherwise make available through the Services.
We may modify or adapt your Content in order to transmit, display or distribute it over computer networks and in various media and/or make changes to your Content as are necessary to conform and adapt that Content to any requirements or limitations of any networks, devices, services or media….”
LinkedIn’s Terms Use
are the most surprising and blatant, in that, LinkedIn clearly states that you give up all rights (assign) to any content you contribute to LinkedIn.
“Contributions to LinkedIn.
By submitting ideas, suggestions, documents, and/or proposals … you acknowledge and agree that: (a) your Contributions do not contain confidential or proprietary information; (b) LinkedIn is not under any obligation of confidentiality, express or implied, with respect to the Contributions; (c) LinkedIn shall be entitled to use or disclose (or choose not to use or disclose) such Contributions for any purpose, in any way, in any media worldwide; … (e) you irrevocably assign to LinkedIn all rights to your Contributions; and (f) you are not entitled to any compensation or reimbursement of any kind from LinkedIn under any circumstances. …”
In many jurisdictions, while the law is still unsettled, when it comes to Terms of Use, it is crucial that you (the creator of content on social media sites)  understand what you agree to BEFORE you accept the Terms.
Okay, that’s it for this now.  Next time we’ll take a look at a recent case and see how one particular court has ruled on this issue. Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Feel free to join the conversation on my Facebook Fan Page; also check out a short video on this topic on my website.

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