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May 13, 2011

5 Things to Check When Reading a Terms of Service

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With TwitPic recently finding itself in hot water over a terms of service change that prevented its users from reselling photographs they had uploaded using the service (their TOS has since been changed to slightly less controversial terms), there’s been a great deal of interest lately the terms we agree to when registering new accounts at various site and the time bombs that could be buried in there.

The truth is that very few people take the time to as much as skim the TOS before clicking “accept” and are completely unaware of what is in the legally binding contract they just “signed”. This has the potential to create major headaches down the road when and if these services decide to exploit their rights to their fullest.

So, if you’re motivated to be a little more careful with the terms you agree to, here is a quick primer on five critical things you want to check when accepting a new TOS. While, obviously, this isn’t a complete list, these are probably the things you probably want to look for first in order to best understand what it is you’re signing and what it might mean moving forward. read more

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April 15, 2011

Content Licensing 101 for Bloggers

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As we talked about last week, whenever you post a blog entry, upload a photograph to your Flickr account or post a video to YouTube, you’re creating copyrighted work and sharing it with the Internet.

As the creator and copyright holder of that work, you have certain rights and protections over it, including the ability to bar others from making unauthorized copies or publicly display/perform the work.

However, you might not want to enforce all of those rights. For example, you might be perfectly happy to let others copy your work and post it on their sites provided they give attribution back. Or, you might be happy to have them print out copies for their personal use so long as they don’t attempt to sell them.

This is where content licensing comes into play. It’s the means by which you give someone (or everyone) a certain amount of rights to use your work even though that use, without your permission, would have been a copyright infringement.

As such, it’s important to understand the basics of copyright licensing and what some of the options are out there. This is so you can maximize what you get out of your writing and, equally importantly, prevent misunderstandings and accidental infringements by others.

With that in mind, here’s a basic rundown of what you need to know to be savvy about content licensing on the Web.
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April 28, 2008

Deal With the Devil: Week 2

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Two weeks ago I blogged that, against YOUR advice, I would be offering my blogging services on a weekly basis to a larger media company – for free.

Here’s the latest update. Nine days ago I submitted an article to the company. And since then: silence.

My article has not appeared on their live site and I have not been updated as to when it would appear. In the meantime, I did not submit an article last week. I plan to hold back until the editor explains what their editorial process is. In hindsight, a question that I should have asked (or the company should have outlined) ahead of time.

Next time, I’ll be sure to find out:

– How in-depth will my piece be edited; content? length? spelling? etc.

– When I should expect to see the article posted.

– How stringent the issued word count is.

– Who I can contact if my main contact is out of the office.

– As estimate of traffic I should expect from my blog entry.

My goal with this series of posts is to help you make better decisions in similar situations. I also hope they’ll open the eyes of companies that pursue bloggers on what they should and shouldn’t do.

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April 18, 2008

Signed a Deal With the ‘Devil’

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Last month I asked: “Should You Allow Major Media to Publish Your Blog Posts?

The answer was a resounding, “NO!”

Since I can never resist going against the current, I’ve just signed on to blog for free (once a week) for a decent-sized media company.

While I completely agree with most of you that this will likely result in greater success for the company, and not little ol’ me, I’m looking at it as an experiment.

The contract clearly states that they can pimp my name, my blog’s name, my likeness, etc. for THEIR financial gain. Also, the content has to be 100% fresh and can’t be posted on my blog. Since the two are closely related, in a way, I’m robbing my blog of good content. I can ‘opt out’ at any time.

I will use this space in the coming weeks to report the results. Perhaps we’ll all be pleasantly surprised. At the very least, you can sit back and say, ‘told ya so,’ when I help the corporate monster grow even larger.

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