Sunday, September 20, 2009

New Contract Presented by Blogger, Google and Picasa

I am almost certain I own the copyright to the above image of my avatar in Second Life, while the avatar itself is the property of Linden Lab. Its a good thing because Google is now demanding a contract of the End User License Agreement (EULA) variety to be agreed to for every image that is uploaded to the Picasa Web Albums server they run through Blogger. Things are gradually tightening up on the electronic frontier. Shall we review the EULA? I personally have a deep interest in these forms of contract which attempt to control responses to digital media.

Firstly in order to use the Picasa Web Albums service you must be "of legal age to form a binding contract and are not a person barred from receiving services under the laws of the United States or other applicable jurisdiction" (Picassa). Those under the age of 18 are now banned from using the service. This is keeping in line with Google contracts of use of search, YouTube, Gmail, news, or images. As Chris Soghoian points out:

Google's terms of service, thick with legalese, state that:

"You may not use ... Google's products, software, services and web sites ... and may not accept the Terms if ... you are not of legal age to form a binding contract with Google.

Incredible when one thinks about it, those under 18 are not legally allowed to use YouTube! But back to Picassa, under the heading Appropriate Conduct we (you) are reminded;

You understand that all information, data, text, software, music, sound, photographs, graphics, video, advertisements, messages or other materials ("Content") are the sole responsibility of the person from which such Content originated.

The contract on Picasa coincides with what could be the greatest challenge yet to the Google empire. the United States Federal Justice Department stated yesterday that they wish the agreement between between Google and the Authors Guild be revised. In a statement it read.

"Because a properly structured settlement agreement in this case offers the potential for important societal benefits, the United States does not want the opportunity or momentum to be lost,"

This is serious. Google vs the United States.....mmmm.

Could the wording in the Picasa EULA anticipates coming problems on such a scale that Google is going to have to deal with them in a very careful and conscientious manner. Consider what Google is also asking for in the EULA:

11.1 You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive licence to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. This licence is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the Services and may be revoked for certain Services as defined in the Additional Terms of those Services.

11.2 You agree that this licence includes a right for Google to make such Content available to other companies, organizations or individuals with whom Google has relationships for the provision of syndicated services, and to use such Content in connection with the provision of those services.

11.3 You understand that Google, in performing the required technical steps to provide the Services to our users, may (a) transmit or distribute your Content over various public networks and in various media; and (b) make such changes to your Content as are necessary to conform and adapt that Content to the technical requirements of connecting networks, devices, services or media. You agree that this licence shall permit Google to take these actions.

So while I am responsible for the visual content on this blog I don't actually own it. I could theoretically go to jail because of it, if I was stupid enough to contradict the EULA, but I cannot control the images for my own purposes and have sole income rights to.

This is strange, with potentially huge implications..and kind of sad.

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