What are we agreeing to in those terms of use?

A New York Times article on May 22nd brought into the daylight what might be hiding in those website Terms of Use that you regularly agree to. But first you should watch this South Park clip about a character that accepted Apple iTunes Terms of Use upon download and basically sold his soul. Well, ok, that can’t really happen, or can it?

This month Twitpic, with over 20 million users, which allows users to upload images and link them on Twitter announced that World Entertainment News Network has become the exclusive photo agent partner of Twitpic. This deal allows World Entertainment to sell images posted on Twitpic.

Celebrities that had uploaded images to Twitpic are surprised that their images may now be freely sold by World Entertainment, and they won’t have any control or even receive any royalties. How is this possible? Well, the terms of use of Twitpic state that users grant to Twitpic “a worldwide, nonexclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable, and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the Content in connection with the Service and Twitpic’s (and its successors’ and affiliates’) business.” That’s how. So, it might be important to read those Terms of Use!

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William Galkin manages GalkinLaw. Mr. Galkin has dedicated his legal practice to representing Internet, e-commerce, computer technology and new media businesses across the U.S. and around the world. He serves as a trusted adviser to both startup and multinational corporations on their core commercial transactions.


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