So Passive Guy put up a post (linking to the original at Plagiarism Today) about the copyright implications of Yahoo’s purchase of Tumblr.
What a yawner. Ho-hum.
Oh, now…wait a sec. Apparently usrs of Tumblr grant it this sort of thing:
a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free, sublicensable, transferable right and license to use, host, store, cache, reproduce, publish, display (publicly or otherwise), perform (publicly or otherwise), distribute, transmit, modify, adapt (including, without limitation, in order to conform it to the requirements of any networks, devices, services, or media through which the Services are available), and create derivative works of (including, without limitation, by Reblogging, as defined below), such Subscriber Content.
Yay? Well, the post goes to focus for a while on the “transferable” bit, but eventually comes back to this:
However, the consolidation should still give us all pause to worry. Every time we agree to a TOS, we’re giving away a license to our work and as those rights become more and more centralized, that gives companies an amazing amount of power not just in terms of what they know about us, but also what they can use that we create.
Still yawning? I might be too, but here’s a fun story that happened recently: Amazon stole Michael Hicks’s book cover for their own promotion. Not the entire cover, mind you. Just some images they happened to like.
But Amazon says that was okay, because, as they told Hicks…wait for it…
I’ve received confirmation from the concerned department that as mentioned in the terms of agreement you grant us a non-exclusive, worldwide, perpetual, irrevocable, royalty-free right and license to use, reproduce, distribute, transmit, perform, modify and display all Submitted Materials in any media formats solely in connection with the Services and the marketing, promotion and distribution of the Services. The rights you grant to us in this paragraph extend to us and to any person or entity designated or engaged by us or acting on our behalf and are in addition to any rights we may otherwise have.
So did Hicks own the artwork? Did he, perhaps, license it himself? Did that license grant him permission to give Amazon a license to use it? Does anybody besides me care at all about this?
‘Scuse me while I wash out the vomit. I hate that stuff.
Okay, I’m back. If Amazon thinks it’s okay to use just the cover, without any sort of attribution or notification, what’s to keep them from using any or all of a book without paying the author? I guess they’d just leave out the copyright page, right?
I’m going to keep writing. I’ll probably even keep publishing on Amazon, because it’s the only practical way to get paid.
But I’m glad I never used Tumblr. And on the indie-publishing side, I’ll be very, very happy when there’s a practical alternative to these large corporations that grab huge chunks of money for sitting between writers (and other artists) and those who want to pay a reasonable fee for entertainment. Something more than rants and theoretical musings.
Expect me to be among the first to jump ship, come the revolution.
Have fun out there.
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