19 September 2013

Do You Read the Terms of Use?

A Genealogy Tip of the Day fan mentioned www.mundia.com recently. It's not a new site, but it never hurts to take a look at something even if it has been around for a while. I may have quickly taken a look at it when it first went up a few years ago, but didn't give it another thought until now.

I took a look at the "Terms of Use" which are partially quoted here:

For each item of content that you post, you grant to us and our affiliates a world-wide, royalty free, fully paid-up, non-exclusive, perpetual, irrevocable, transferable, and fully sublicensable (including to other Website users) license, without additional consideration to you or any third party, to: (i) reproduce, distribute, make available, transmit, communicate to the public, perform and display (publicly or otherwise), edit, modify, adapt, create derivative works from and otherwise use such content, in any format or media now known or later developed; (ii) exercise all trademark, publicity and other proprietary rights with regard to such content; (iii) use your name, photograph, portrait, picture, voice, likeness and biographical information as provided by you in connection with your content for the Service, in each case, in connection with your content. For example, after your registration or subscription has ended, we may continue to use and display any content that you previously posted, and other users may continue may access, change, edit, add to, subtract from or otherwise amend such content. If you do not want to grant us the rights set out in these Terms of Use, please do not post any content on the Website.

Well isn't that interesting.

They can use whatever I submit to that site, including both text and image material, in any way they want. Even after I leave the site. I lose control over what I submit.

Of course from a practical standpoint that's what happens when you post information on a blog or a webpage. The risk of "losing control" has always been there. That's not new--don't put anything online that you don't want to share. Terms of use have always been around and are not new either.  It's just that many researchers, in their urgent desire to connect with other people, have clicked past the terms of use to get to the "search boxes." You can easily acknowledge the terms of use without ever reading them--all because you are in a hurry to "search" and "find."

You can sign a mortgage without ever reading it. That I really would not advise.

Is this a great scandal in the making? No. Agreeing to the terms of use is nothing new. The problem comes when a researcher "discovers" them after the fact.

Are these bad terms? Like anything else, it all depends upon what the user is comfortable with.

As for me I'm not comfortable with these terms of use. I don't like it that they make it clear they are taking the rights to do whatever they want with your data. It's doubtful that your picture will end up posted to CNN. What they could be doing is laying the groundwork to include the information in some sort of subscription or fee-based database. And if you've agreed to these terms then you've given them permission to do that because you agreed to the terms.

It's fine with me if a reader is comfortable with these terms and doesn't have any personal issues with them. The key is to actually read them so that you know what you're agreeing to when before you submit data to a site.

Thanks, but no thanks.

Mundia.com is owned by Ancestry.com. But then some of you already suspected that (or even knew it!).