BOB GARFIELD: What do they consider the most onerous clauses of the terms of service that they want to call users’ attention to?
MICHIEL DE JONG: A lot of services get a license on your data as soon as you upload it. For instance, whenever you publish something on Facebook, they get a copyright license on your photos and on the things you write. In New York, there was somebody who took a photo of the airplane landing on the Hudson River and tweeted that, and to tweet it they used the tool TwitPic. TwitPic then got the right to show that photo to the media. So the copyright license is one important issue. And tracking is also important, where websites track your click behavior and make a profile about you, about which advertisements to show you, and also this profile can often be sold to their companies who then combine it with profiles from other websites. Those are the two main points, I think.
BOB GARFIELD: And then there’s a third issue, and that is that some of these contracts prohibit the user from ever suing. Is that common?
MICHIEL DE JONG: I’ve seen it at least two or three times now, and I have never imagined that that could even be legal. And, apparently, in the EU it’s probably not legal, but I heard that in the US it is. To be it sounds very strange that you sign a contract where one of the parties says I promise not to sue you. That just sounds – like a very imbalanced thing to put in any contract.
Michael Buchino is a graphic artist in Portland, Oregon, and the blog moderator for AIGA Portland. His nescient Twitter ramblings can be found via @buchino. Sometimes he responds to Gmails addressed to michaelbuchino. His now-quiescent blog Beard Revue was named Best of Portland in 2010.