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David Lee King

Not Using Swift for Computers in Libraries



The Computers in Libraries conference (an awesome conference, by the way) is experimenting with Swift, an “online community platform for conferences.” That’s great! It’s always fun to see a cool conference experiment with fun tools.

However, I’m opting out. Why? Read the Terms of Service document (found via Jessamyn’s post). There’s some language there that I don’t agree with. Let me demonstrate:

  • “By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part), transmit, and distribute such User Content for any purpose on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing.”
  • Me – I’m not giving my photos, tweets, and blog posts to a company that wants an “irrivocable, perpetual… license to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate… for any purpose…” Nope. IT’S MY CONTENT.
  • It continues: “You further agree that you will not use the Site to … promote or generate revenue for any business or commercial purposes unless authorized by Company”
  • Me – Ummm… I have this speaking and writing business. And my free content promotes ME, which DOES end up generating revenue. So nope. Can’t do it. For example, I’m writing a book for InfoToday. I’m also promoting my library…
  • A little more: “Except for your own User Content, you may not and will not upload or republish Site Content on any Internet, Intranet or Extranet site or incorporate the information in any other database or compilation, and any other use of the Site Content is strictly prohibited.”
  • Me – if I had signed up for the service, I couldn’t have republished parts of this ToS to complain. Nope, sorry.

Furthermore – does anyone remember this post from awhile back (and the comments attached)? Here’s what I said about it then… and I still feel that way.

But even without all that, I simply don’t see the need for it. Anyone who wants to can subscribe to my Facebook account, my twitter, flickr, and blog feeds, and my videoblog. They can find anything related to the conference via tags in each of these services plus Technorati. And aggregate it (except for Facebook) in one place (their feed reader of choice). So what does this service give me that I’m lacking? Anyone?

Finally, the ToS says: “If You do not agree with these Terms of Use, please do not use the Otter Group Site.” I don’t, and I won’t.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Kathleen Gilroy

    David, you raise some important issues regarding the TOS for SWIFT. In face the service has evolved since this document was written. We actually don’t host any of the user data in the system. We simply point to it after you have tagged it with the tags associated with the event and session pages in SWIFT. I’m going to send your comments to the attorneys who drafted the TOS and ask them to see if we can revise them to more accurately reflect what is going on with the SWIFT platform. Thanks for pointing these issues out. We are beta testing here (we just launched three days ago) and we need this kind of feedback.

  • Kathleen Gilroy

    David, you raise some important issues regarding the TOS for SWIFT. In face the service has evolved since this document was written. We actually don’t host any of the user data in the system. We simply point to it after you have tagged it with the tags associated with the event and session pages in SWIFT. I’m going to send your comments to the attorneys who drafted the TOS and ask them to see if we can revise them to more accurately reflect what is going on with the SWIFT platform. Thanks for pointing these issues out. We are beta testing here (we just launched three days ago) and we need this kind of feedback.

  • Quincy

    “By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant…”

    Facebook’s Terms of Service contains the exact same paragraph. (http://www.facebook.com/terms.php)

  • http://www.davidleeking.com/ david lee king

    Kathleen – thanks! That’s great – a good start, at the least.

    Quincy – there are some differences between the two. Yes, Facebook does have that exact same paragraph (I think it’s a standard form. You see the same language in recording contracts). Facebook surrounds the statement with other text, like this: “Facebook does not assert any ownership over your User Content; rather, as between us and you, subject to the rights granted to us in these Terms, you retain full ownership of all of your User Content and any intellectual property rights or other proprietary rights associated with your User Content.” So that’s one step better.

    But your point is taken.

    One other difference – I can choose to use Facebook or not – it’s not officially offered by the conference. Swift, however, is being offered up by the conference dudes as the “official” thing to use. Since I’ll be posting, photographing, and probably videoblogging, it’s something I need to think about a little bit more.

  • http://www.davidleeking.com david lee king

    Kathleen – thanks! That’s great – a good start, at the least.

    Quincy – there are some differences between the two. Yes, Facebook does have that exact same paragraph (I think it’s a standard form. You see the same language in recording contracts). Facebook surrounds the statement with other text, like this: “Facebook does not assert any ownership over your User Content; rather, as between us and you, subject to the rights granted to us in these Terms, you retain full ownership of all of your User Content and any intellectual property rights or other proprietary rights associated with your User Content.” So that’s one step better.

    But your point is taken.

    One other difference – I can choose to use Facebook or not – it’s not officially offered by the conference. Swift, however, is being offered up by the conference dudes as the “official” thing to use. Since I’ll be posting, photographing, and probably videoblogging, it’s something I need to think about a little bit more.

  • http://www.infotoday.com/ Dick Kaser

    Hi, David.

    Thanks for being diligent–we all have to be!

    I don’t mean to defend anyone here. I don’t have any ownership interest in Swift. I’m not a lawyer, this is not legal advice. But I’ve worked with copyright agreements now for more years than I want to acknowledge.

    As part of negotiating this deal with Swift, I reviewed the terms of service agreement and found it rather “standard.” I did suggest that they clarify the author’s ownership of his or her own works, but from what you’ve quoted, I’m not sure it made it in there.

    Without giving a service provider some level of permission to display or perform works, any publisher or service provider runs the risk of being sued for copyright infringement, which is not trivial (mandatory fines are in six figures). So the lawyers are always trying to close all the loopholes up front.

    Generally I would expect to see the term “non-exclusive” in the license language, which would clearly mean that you still own all the material and are just giving Swift permission to display and copy it(computers have to copy stuff in order to display it).

    The good news is, most publishers and service providers who work with intellectual property are really trying to avoid big violations. That bit about copying Swift stuff probably is meant to protect the programming code.

    They want to be protected in the event that someone attempts to pirate the whole nine yards.

    No one’s going to spend the money to take you to court over trivial violations of the official rules. At least that’s how it’s always worked in the past. (Remember when the recording industry went after grandmas and kids over music downloads. That was the first time I ever saw this “gentleman’s agreement” violated.)

    If you’re speaking at CIL you, no doubt, have been asked to sign a speaker agreement, which relates to the “performance rights” for your work. Under that agreement, you don’t give us your work, but you agree to perform it and, if you checked the box, to record and display it. In all cases, these are non-exclusive rights. Though everyone hates me for putting these speaker agreements in place–because they are pain to administer–even we at ITI need to cover our ***.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is, only take these agreements seriously enough. In general I found Swift very amenable to comment. And they made many revisions in the agreement I signed with them.

    Once they have responded to you, I hope you will reconsider playing with us on this new playing field.

    Dick Kaser
    ITI, VP, Content

  • http://www.infotoday.com Dick Kaser

    Hi, David.

    Thanks for being diligent–we all have to be!

    I don’t mean to defend anyone here. I don’t have any ownership interest in Swift. I’m not a lawyer, this is not legal advice. But I’ve worked with copyright agreements now for more years than I want to acknowledge.

    As part of negotiating this deal with Swift, I reviewed the terms of service agreement and found it rather “standard.” I did suggest that they clarify the author’s ownership of his or her own works, but from what you’ve quoted, I’m not sure it made it in there.

    Without giving a service provider some level of permission to display or perform works, any publisher or service provider runs the risk of being sued for copyright infringement, which is not trivial (mandatory fines are in six figures). So the lawyers are always trying to close all the loopholes up front.

    Generally I would expect to see the term “non-exclusive” in the license language, which would clearly mean that you still own all the material and are just giving Swift permission to display and copy it(computers have to copy stuff in order to display it).

    The good news is, most publishers and service providers who work with intellectual property are really trying to avoid big violations. That bit about copying Swift stuff probably is meant to protect the programming code.

    They want to be protected in the event that someone attempts to pirate the whole nine yards.

    No one’s going to spend the money to take you to court over trivial violations of the official rules. At least that’s how it’s always worked in the past. (Remember when the recording industry went after grandmas and kids over music downloads. That was the first time I ever saw this “gentleman’s agreement” violated.)

    If you’re speaking at CIL you, no doubt, have been asked to sign a speaker agreement, which relates to the “performance rights” for your work. Under that agreement, you don’t give us your work, but you agree to perform it and, if you checked the box, to record and display it. In all cases, these are non-exclusive rights. Though everyone hates me for putting these speaker agreements in place–because they are pain to administer–even we at ITI need to cover our ***.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is, only take these agreements seriously enough. In general I found Swift very amenable to comment. And they made many revisions in the agreement I signed with them.

    Once they have responded to you, I hope you will reconsider playing with us on this new playing field.

    Dick Kaser
    ITI, VP, Content

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  • Kathleen Gilroy

    Based on your concerns, we have modified the TOS so that it is clear that you own all of the rights in your content and you are only granting a limited license to SWIFT:

    You own your User Content and grant Otter Group only a limited license as defined in the Terms of Use.

    Once your account is terminated with SWIFT, so is the license:

    Once your account with Otter Group for Service terminates, we will promptly take down your User Content. Otter may retain archival copies.

    We have followed the TOS of Yahoo and Twitter in this case. It was always our intention to retain ownership with the publishers. Our language wasn’t clear.

    You can find the full TOS here: http://www.imswiftblog.com/?page_id=697

  • Kathleen Gilroy

    Based on your concerns, we have modified the TOS so that it is clear that you own all of the rights in your content and you are only granting a limited license to SWIFT:

    You own your User Content and grant Otter Group only a limited license as defined in the Terms of Use.

    Once your account is terminated with SWIFT, so is the license:

    Once your account with Otter Group for Service terminates, we will promptly take down your User Content. Otter may retain archival copies.

    We have followed the TOS of Yahoo and Twitter in this case. It was always our intention to retain ownership with the publishers. Our language wasn’t clear.

    You can find the full TOS here: http://www.imswiftblog.com/?page_id=697

  • davidleeking

    Kathleen – cool! That’s a great start – thanks for listening to me and others, and for making some appropriate changes to the TOS.

  • davidleeking

    Kathleen – cool! That’s a great start – thanks for listening to me and others, and for making some appropriate changes to the TOS.

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  • Quincy

    “By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant…”

    Facebook's Terms of Service contains the exact same paragraph. (http://www.facebook.com/terms.php)