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yahoo indigestion: cultural tenant farming [digest: roving,neilsen]

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Date: Tue, 29 Jun 1999 20:28:07 +0100
From: nettime's_digestive_system <>
Subject: yahoo: cultural tenant farming [digest: roving, neilsen]

Date: Tue, 29 Jun 1999 11:12:33 -0100
From: nettime's_roving_reporter <>
Subject: declan mccullaugh for wired news: 'yahoo: your house is my house'


   Yahoo: Your House Is My House
   by Declan McCullagh 
   3:00 a.m.  29.Jun.99.PDT
   If you're a GeoCities homesteader, be warned: Your Web site is no
   longer your own.
   Yahoo, which launched its Yahoo-GeoCities site Monday, says it owns
   all Web pages, articles, and images on member sites and has
   "irrevocable" rights to them for all time.
   This presents a problem for those GeoCities members who have
   painstakingly assembled large sites with dozens, even hundreds, of
   pages of valuable material.
   "Somebody please tell me that this does not mean that Yahoo is
   demanding the rights to a large portion of my professional writing and
   photography if I use my Web site there," complained Tracy Marks, who
   estimates that she has 600 Web pages and 23 MB of files on GeoCities.
   To create or update GeoCities pages, members must agree to a contract
   that gives Yahoo broad rights over their intellectual property.
   Under its terms of service, publishers must give Yahoo a
   "royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive and fully
   sublicensable right and license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt,
   publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform
   and display such Content" in any form or media.
   Yahoo defends the terms in the contract, saying it's trying to prevent
   itself from being sued over copyright infringements and wants the
   ability to promote its service.
   Consumer advocates say Yahoo has gone too far.
   "It's a bad idea. People don't read the fine print on these contracts.
   People will give up intellectual property to Yahoo without
   understanding what they're getting into," said Jamie Love of the Ralph
   Nader-affiliated Consumer Project on Technology.
   "People have made investments by promoting their site and people start
   to link to them. They're changing the rules in midstream," Love said.
   Legal experts say that it's likely Yahoo will change its mind.
   "I bet that once it comes to light, they'll modify it. They can't get
   away with it. They'd have people leaving in droves," said David Post,
   a law professor at George Mason University who teaches intellectual
   property law.
   "My prediction is that Yahoo will say, 'That's not what we intended.
   We don't really want to do all these things with their content. We had
   it as an insurance policy,'" Post said.
   Some scholarly journals have standardized similar contracts that are
   even more restrictive: They require authors to give up all rights to
   the publication. But as authors began to want to post their writings
   on their Web sites, journals have started to become more flexible.
   Yahoo will let users keep their existing GeoCities pages under the old
   contract, but customers cannot modify their site until they agree to
   the revised terms of service.
   Some other Web page-hosting services have similar contracts. Tripod,
   which is owned by the parent company of Wired News, requires its users
   to grant it "a royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive,
   worldwide, unrestricted license to use, copy, modify, transmit,
   distribute, and publicly perform or display the submitted Member Web
   Copyright  1994-99 Wired Digital Inc. All rights reserved.

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Date: Tue, 29 Jun 1999 10:13:33 -0700
From: kirsten neilsen <>
Organization: Thinkbank, Inc. / Berkeley, CA
Subject: yahoo claims rights to geocities member content

[forwarded w/out express permission]

Yahoo's Lawyers Take Over the Asylum
 How much will your free Geocities site
 actually cost you if they "legally" steal
 your content? 

 By David "Spam Me and Die" Fiedler 


 They tried to slip one past us all. 

 Before I go any further with this, I want you to know that I'm
 truly sad to be writing this particular column today. I'm not one
 of those people who run around saying "Oh, sure, I know Jerry
 Yang", but I have met him on a number of occasions and he's
 always struck me as a Nice Guy. 

 Yesterday, Yahoo! took the first major steps in bringing millions
 of GeoCities users into its own network, after buying Geocities
 in January. Unfortunately, yesterday was also the day that
 Yahoo! quietly unveiled some new terms in its agreement with
 users of Yahoo! and Geocities properties...terms that
 effectively mean you're giving Yahoo! perpetual rights to
 any content you submit to them! 

 Paragraph 8 is the one we're concerned about here: 

  By submitting Content to any Yahoo property, you
  automatically grant, or warrant that the owner of such
  Content has expressly granted, Yahoo the
  royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive and
  fully sublicensable right and license to use, reproduce,
  modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative
  works from, distribute, perform and display such
  Content (in whole or part) worldwide and/or to
  incorporate it in other works in any form, media, or
  technology now known or later developed.

 This is one of the most horrific scenarios one could possibly
 imagine, but in a way I'm glad that such a high-profile company
 like Yahoo! was the first to try this little scam. Every time I've
 visited one of the sites that give you free Web space, I've read
 the Terms and Conditions carefully, because I was afraid that
 someone would try this eventually. This way, we can make
 enough of an outcry that perhaps we can shame Yahoo! into
 withdrawing the entire concept, as well as set a precedent that
 will effectively stop anyone else from doing the same thing. 

 We all know that nobody would visit any site on the Web if it
 wasn't for the content there. In the past, sites like Geocities
 would be content to sell ads on their site -- which contain your
 content -- and the deal was that you'd get free Web space. Now
 apparently they want to sneak your content into their pockets as

 Well, we're not going to let them do that, are we? 

 I am indebted to Mark Welch, who runs Web Site Banner Ads
 Digest among other things, for pointing this out to his
 subscribers, of which I am one. Mark is calling for a boycott of
 Yahoo! and Geocities until they mend their ways. 

 Let's hope they see things the right way and fix this fast.
 Personally, I think Yahoo! is a great directory, and I use it all the
 time. But I'm going to give them a pass until they come to their

 After all, if Yahoo! didn't have all our content to point to, where
 would they be in the first place? 
 -- D. Fiedler 

 David Fiedler is Editor-in-Chief of, and
 his opinions are definitely his own.