Thursday, July 20, 2006

GardenWeb Turnip Recipes and Copyright

While I was doing a little searching on blogs the other night I came upon the blog of Joshua Mack vice-president of iVillage and manager of the GardenWeb. Be sure to read the About Me part on his blog. His top post at the time was about the launch of a new photo gallery feature at GW. I had seen mention of this by his cohort gwtamara in the Landscape Design forum. Several people posed questions about this new feature that remained unanswered for eight days. The first question was about copyright.

I left the following comment on Mr. Mack’s blog. It was comment number three. It was promptly deleted bright and early EST.

What a very interesting thing to find on the web.
"Wow! In fact I think I may steal some of language..."
You may want to consider some language, any language instead of leaving people's questions unanswered about the GardenWeb's new photo galleries.

As it is with the current TOS at GW "steal" is the operative word in most people's minds.

I see earlier in the week (post of 7-12) you had a nice dinner with GW's community moderators. The hot topics forum must have been a hot topic.

Posted by: Christopher C. at Jul 20, 2006 4:42:08 AM

Low and behold after eight days absence gwtamara shows up the same day to promote the new photo gallery feature back at the Landscape Design forum. She avoids the copyright question and others until forced to answer. Her response is the same; this is business as usual and this is a standard Terms of Service agreement.

No one disputes the need for a website to have copyright to post things on that site. Suspicions are raised when a phrase like, “you grant iVillage a royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive right (including any moral rights)” to do whatever they wish with the content submitted by the users of the site is in those TOS.

There is no intent to keep the content submitted solely to that site or its close relative sites in the same company where it was placed for free. This is a content mining operation to generate revenue for iVillage and its partners/owners Hearst Publishing, who may still have some share of the business and NBC.

What kind of business needs to claim moral rights to freely submitted content?

The internet is being bought up by big corporations and the lobbyists are in Washington trying to get the rules fixed to favor the powerful. The little guy and freedom of speech may be the losers. This gem of a statement from the GardenWeb may soon carry a lot of clout, “That would require a change to the Constitution, which, while it provides for freedom of speech, applies that only to public speech, and does not require private companies to extend free speech to others.”

I may have just fallen off the Turnip Truck when it comes to the internet and not know all there is about copyright and websites whose very substance is created by user generated content. I may not know much about guiding principles and current practices in today’s business culture. But I do know when someone is taking something that doesn’t belong to them. I learned that as a child.

”Life is what you make of it. You can be used or you can use.” This statement is from someone I believe to be a Community Moderator of the GardenWeb site. It says a lot about the values in operation there. Maybe that shouldn’t be surprising from a garden site based in New York City with TOS written up by corporate lawyers most likely from New York City and owned by media and publishing interests.

You can just call me a Turnip Meringue. I have been ignored, spun, harangued, called names, deleted and banned for calling this business to task for their greedy TOS. Item 7 is the copyright clause that I and many others find questionable. A sane person may just leave and be done with it and many have. What is up with me?

In the last story line of Seinfeld the fussy four are arrested, found guilty and jailed for violating Canada’s new Good Samaritan Law when they did not assist a man who was being car jacked.

No one will be able to say of me that I did not shout STOP! THIEF and cause a ruckus to alert others to what was going on right under many of their noses.

Cyber space is huge and more and more people are coming online all the time. They are just waiting for the next Turnip Truck to pull in.


christin m p in massachusetts said...

I hope you were able to get the word out to enough members before the conniving thieves deleted your warnings.

christin m p in massachusetts said...

I just checked out Mack's blog site, and from there, took a look-see at the GardenWeb photo galleries.

Geez... if they must have all those advertisements defacing the beautiful, if ill-gotten pictures, do they have to be the vulgar flashy kind? I think they need to study their market a little better. Somehow I don't see those tastelessly placed, bouncing ads appealing to gardening enthusiasts.

I also checked the About Me part of his blog, as you recommended... This part gave me a good laugh:
"You can see recent projects and more about me, me, me, there."