By Marisa Demarco
Hey, This Isn't "My"Space—Raise your hand if you read the Terms of Agreement before signing up for stuff online.
I said raise your hand.
Hmmm. OK, so aside from the one meticulous and enviable guy in the back, I guess we're all pretty much of the "just scroll down 'til the 'accept' button lights up" variety. These days, many of us are likely doing this with MySpace, the biggest new thing on the Internet. MySpace has turned into a great way to find artists and musicians, whose population on networking sites can be described as "multitudinous."
Here's the rub: There are some funny things in the MySpace Terms of Service, things that reckless Web users such as myself have agreed to without much thought. For instance, MySpace has "a non-exclusive, fully-paid and royalty-free, worldwide license ... to use, copy, modify, adapt, translate, publicly perform, publicly display, store, reproduce, transmit, and distribute" any content you post there.
That's something to chew on, especially for bands that post music for hordes of adoring "friends." But before you rush to the nearest computer to remove your masterworks from the site, know that if MySpace has copies on its servers, it has the rights to those, too. One more thing: “Even after membership is terminated, this agreement will remain in effect.”
It's also important to note that with all those quizzes and surveys floating around, MySpace owner Rupert Murdoch, the same guy who brings us the Fox News Channel, has one hell of a market research tool. That may sound a little conspiracy theorist, but we all know marketers use everything at their disposal to understand their customers so they can sell you T-shirts and bumper stickers carrying the slogans of your generation.
Keep that in the back of your mind the next time you give detailed info on your sex life to the sordid world of MySpace bulletins. Who knows? Maybe you'll spark a new product, such as condoms embossed with the slogans of your generation.
There's also a rather mystifying portion on fees. It's been free so far, but "myspace.com reserves the right to charge for the services and to change its fees from time to time in its discretion." And if they change the terms, you are bound to the new agreement "when you use the services after any such modification is posted." I'm pretty sure this means that just by signing in, you've agreed to the new rules.
The winner for most humorous line in the MySpace Terms of Service: "It is therefore important that you review this agreement regularly to ensure you are updated as to any changes." Right. Because we read them so thoroughly the first time.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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