You Don’t Need To Pay Me, I Work For Hope

Brian's Take on Tech

Bringing you info about technology, and how it impacts your life for better and worse.   -Brian K, Community Partnerships Supervisor

I just finished reading a book by Jaron Lanier called “Who Owns the Future” and while this is no way a book review, his book did give me some things to ponder. Lanier’s basic argument is that we are all being foolish by giving (and taking) each other’s intellectual content for free. He argues that by sharing our works and thoughts we are driving revenue to a smaller and smaller group of elites and destroying the middle class in the process. While I don’t necessarily agree with everything he has to say, he does make some compelling arguments and got me questioning whether free information is a good idea.  

While I could pontificate on this for hours I will spare you, kind of. Rather than one long-winded post, I am going to break this up into a short series and I am going to try to keep my opinion out of it. Each post will be two examples of licensing agreement language and what it means to you; focusing on sites and services you probably know.

So here we go.

Exhibit One

I just signed up for Google Drive what did I give away?

Answer: pretty much everything

From the Source:

Some of our Services allow you to submit content. You retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that you hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours.

When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones. This license continues even if you stop using our Services (for example, for a business listing you have added to Google Maps).


Exhibit Two

I was just asked to speak at a TED Conference, I wonder how much I will be paid? In addition to the live speech my talk will be accessible to all and viewed thousands if not millions of times. That has to be worth something right?

Answer: You’ll have to report it to the IRS (your ticket and accommodations have monetary value) but no money will ever see your pocket. TED does not pay its speakers; it does however put them up in a nice hotel and doesn’t kick them out of the conference when they are done speaking.

What you are really banking on here is the hope that your talk will be a hit and lead to a more lucrative future. For example, Sir Ken Robinson’s first TED talk is one of their most viewed talks of all time. To see him speak live will now cost your organization $50,000 a session. By the way, if you read the second paragraph you will find that your talk isn’t even guaranteed to make it on the website.

 From the Source:

 “TED does not pay speakers. We do, of course, cover travel costs and provide excellent hotel accommodation -- as well as a covetable pass to all four days of TED. Most speakers stay for all four days of the conference, soaking up the inspiration, and connecting with other fascinating attendees, who range from rocket scientists to concert pianists. Other TED goodies include the famous gift bag, the TED Book Club, a beautiful Program Guide with a full page devoted to each full-length speaker, and a virtual-DVD stream of the conference soon afterward. We're committed to creating an experience that's tremendously fulfilling and beneficial on all sides.

An additional benefit of speaking at TED is that your presentation may become a TEDTalk, part of our beautifully produced, broadcast-quality video podcast series. Offered free to the public, TEDTalks have proven extraordinarily effective at spreading ideas.”


So what are your thoughts so far? Will it change your online behaviors? Will it make you start reading the fine print?

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