IT’S *MY* CONTENT

15. June 2004, 12:59 | by WD Milner | Full Article |



Rory and Maggie © 2002 W.D. Milner

Why This Web Site Is No Longer At Sympatico


This web site holds a personal web site. It has original content, it has content from some others, used with permission, it has public domain content. It isn’t the fanciest site on the net, nor the most elaborate, nor yet the worst. It isn’t the busiest site but isn’t entirely unknown either. But it is MINE.

Why then has this page moved from its home on the Sympatico personal webspace? Because, until a couple of months ago, and probably like many people, I neglected to keep up to date on detailed changes to the TOS or Terms of Service of my ISP, in this case Sympatico (now run by Aliant in Atlantic Canada). The relevant paragraph that resulted in the removal of the contents of this page can be found below:


Taken from the Sympatico Terms of Service statement

	16. User Content. In respect of any and all content you elect
            to post on the Sympatico Network which is accessible by
            the general public, such as on Sympatico's public forums,
            you grant Sympatico a world-wide, royalty-free,
            nonexclusive, and unrestricted license to use, copy, adapt,
            transmit, publicly display and perform, distribute and
            create compilations and derivative works from such content 
            for the limited purposes of publishing such content and
            promoting the specific Service to which such content was
            submitted. Such license shall apply with respect to any form,
            media, or technology now known or later developed and shall
            terminate at the time you delete such content from the Service.

What exactly does this mean? In simple terms it means that as long as you have posted material on your Sympatico web space, Sympatico can use that content, and any variation on it, any way it wants, whenever it wants and can distribute it how and where it wants, without any further permission, credit or payment to you.

“No big deal” you say? Anyone who has published poetry, stories, songs, lyrics, music, graphics, indeed ANY content, has just given Sympatico the right to any and all of it they choose, however and whenever they choose, without recompense of any kind - even credit for the source of the material. It also constitutes at the very least “electronic serial rights” as regards publication.

Fortunately, unlike some TOS (like Yahoo/Geocities which was (is?) so notorious) this one has a termination clause in that the license terminates once the content is no longer on their server. One can only suppose they will ensure that any use of material they have appropriated will cease at that point and all copies they distributed wherever they may be will be destroyed.

Well, in the case of my site, the sole ‘web content’ of my account is a relay page to this new site location. Notice is hereby given that any licence granted to Sympatico, et. al. through the Terms of Service for any and all previous content of this user’s site, and all copies, compilations, and derivitive works thereof must cease immediately, as well as any and all distribution of same. Any distributed copies, adaptations, compilations or derivitive works are to be recalled and destroyed. Failure to do so may result in action for material breach.

My thanks to those who have visited in the past and your encouraging comments. I hope you will continue to visit this new site.

Addendum

I have had a couple of people point to the section that reads “for the limited purposes of publishing such content and promoting the specific Service to which such content was submitted.” as meaning it's to permit the display of your website.

Indeed it does permit this, but it also permits the publishing of the content elsewhere, in any other media, in any form that Sympatico chooses, without requiring permission or compensation, including advertising and marketing media. There is no need for unrestricted use to say nothing of adaptation, inclusion in compilations etc. This was the problem several years ago that forced Yahoo/Geocities to change its TOS as web clients removed their sites in droves. All that is needed to display your web site is a simple statement similar to the following:

	    User Content. In respect of any and all content you elect
            to post on the Sympatico Network which is accessible by the
            general public, you grant Sympatico a limited, world-wide,
            royalty-free, nonexclusive, electronic license to transmit
            and publicly display such content for the sole limited
            purpose of publishing such content on your behalf using
            Hypertext Transfer Protocols over the Internet. Such license
            shall terminate at such time as you delete the content from
            the Service.

The differences in wording are minor yet significant, and restricts the use of the content to what the owner intended, that being the display of said content via the World Wide Web. They could have used a clause such as this. It makes one wonder why they didn’t do so. Then again I have found most corporate lawyers tend to the excessively verbose.

The new home for the previously posted material from this site, an updated design, plus additional new material may be found here at The Birches, The Yak Shack and Caisteal Comraich.

UPDATE: 2005.10.28

An e-mail from a site visitor regarding this article has prompted me to have another look at this subject as there have been some changes at Sympatico - mainly becoming part of MSN.CA. This has not been updated in a while so this is a good time to do so. The numbering of the clauses is different as is the wording.

	14. User Content. In respect of any and all content you elect
	    to post on the Services which is accessible by the general
	    public, such as on public forums operated by your Service
	    Providers, you grant each of your Service Providers
	    individually and jointly a world-wide, royalty-free,
	    nonexclusive, and unrestricted license to use, copy, adapt,
	    transmit, publicly display and perform, distribute and
	    create compilations and derivative works from such content
	    in connection with the Service. Such license shall apply
	    with respect to any form, media, or technology now known or
	    later developed and shall terminate at the time you delete
	    such content from the Service.

	    With respect to any and all content you elect to post or
	    transmit using the Services, you agree that your Service
	    Providers may preserve and disclose any content associated
	    with your account where required to do so by law or where
	    such preservation or disclosure is reasonably believed by
	    your Service Providers to be necessary to ensure compliance
	    with the law, enforce the Terms of Use or protect the rights
	    and interests of your Service Providers or any other person. 

While outwardly they are the same as the earlier clause, the terms are in fact even wider reaching as now the terms apply not only to Sympatico itself, but “each of your Service Providers individually and jointly” which basically means any service provider associated with Sympatico that handles the content is granted the same rights. Additionally, not only do they reserve preservation and disclosure rights for reasons of law, which is quite legitimate, but to “protect the rights and interests of ... any other person.” The problem here is the “any other person”. Sounds suspiciously like “big brotherhood” to me.

It is obvious that this legalese has gone from bad to worse (in this author’s opinion) and so my content remains elsewhere than Sympatico’s webspace (which I have outgrown anyway).

Please note, that during the last seven years while I have been with Sympatico their service has been excellent and I have no other significant complaints with same. The criticism contained herein is addressed solely at this single topic and I make no representation that this is other than my own point of view on the subject.

- 30 -

Categories: ,
Keywords: TOS,Aliant,ownership,copyright,publication,website,Sympatico

Comments


Dante McLean Thu Aug 3, 04:32 PM
Gravatar

Thanks for posting that TOS information re: Sympatico Webspace. I was, until now, not up to date on the contents of the TOS agreement, either. However, now that I am, things will be coming down off there ASAP! Being a photography student with orig. work posted there, I am greatly disturbed by this clause.

Thanks again for posting that.

 



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