Is there anything that is yours ?

Just caught this story over at Slashdot – AOL have modded the TOS for AIM, and if it goes over their network, it’s theirs. So if tonight I’m chatting to OFJ again, and we discuss an innovative use for blogging and politics, AIM claims ownership. If someone mentions that they have a great design for a petrol-free engine and they transfer a jpg, AIM own it. Just what in this increasingly stupid world IS OURS ANY MORE ?
We don’t own music, we are permitted to play it. We do not own programs, merely the CD’s on which they arrive on, Bill Gates can walk into your house and stop you using your Windows machine if he wants, EULA’s get longer and longer. As someone in the /. thread points out, this is equivalent to the telephone company saying that what you say over their line becomes theirs. WTF ? hang on …… so if tonight I transfer a jpg of a bomb to someone, and then next week use that same bomb to blow up parliament (or Congress), then are AOL responsible ? Are they hell. So it’s a case of wanting to keep what they want, but screw you if they do not want their hands dirtied ? There is of course a very very simple answer to al this – stop using AIM. Okay, so it’s not like I am going to be trading corporate secrets, but that just is not the point – yet another company in this increasingly wierd world is saying that what is yours is NOT yours. (Imagine a banner above a Starbucks: “All emails, IM’s and documents written, sent or even contemplated while you are on our premises are ours too”). Where does this stupidity end ? When does someone call these people for what is effectively corporate theft and abuse of position ? And the stupidest / scariest part of all this is that no-one will say they took this position. The Corporation did, the company did, but an individual did not.

AIM will be removed from Miranda here later.

5 thoughts on “Is there anything that is yours ?

  1. Pingback: All Narfed Up
  2. makes you want to go to starbucks, come up with a really good idea and tell your friends via AIM, just to watch starbucks and aol fight it out, doesn’t it? (I mean if Starbucks actually had that banner…)

    Surely if this continues there are going to be times when more than one corporate entity is trying to claim rights to the same parts of us at the same time. That part might be interesting. If there were a big enough fight, they could make asses of themselves properly, with a big audience.

  3. Successfully completing the reading of this post means any readers have to send me candy. Good candy.

    At the risk of sounding like a nitwit, is AOL’s assertion in the TOS even legal ? If I greet you when you walk into my house and say “Hi, Mark, lovely to see you–walking through the door means that anything you say, I own the rights to. I can use your image…etc and you have to clean the kitchen” and you then walk through my door, does it follow that I actually have those rights?

    I don’t think so. I’m not a lawyer, but I don’t believe their assertion. I mean–if we modified GPL to say ‘use grants right for any citizen of Canada anywhere to borrow your car indefinitely’ I don’t think it would hold up.

    Reductio only goes so far, anyway…although probably doesn’t go at all with AOL’s lawyers.

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