Facebook’s latest attempt at “friendliness”

Facebook just released a statement concerning future changes to their Terms of Use:

Beginning today, we are giving you a greater opportunity to voice your opinion over how Facebook is governed. We’re starting this off by publishing two new documents for your review and comment. The first is the Facebook Principles, which defines your rights and will serve as the guiding framework behind any policy we’ll consider—or the reason we won’t consider others. The second document is the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, which will replace the existing Terms of Use. With both documents, we tried hard to simplify the language so you have a clear understanding of how Facebook will be run. We’ve created separate groups for each document so you can read them and provide comments and feedback. You can find the Facebook Principles here and the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities here. Before these new proposals go into effect, you’ll also have the ability to vote for or against proposed changes.

I suppose it’s nice to see that Facebook is trying to take the worries of its users to heart.  If you pay attention to the fine print, though, they are — unsurprisingly — not promising to really do anything.  More analysis after the jump.

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i can haz acceptance?

I saw this on Boing Boing, and felt I had to share.  Long story short: some woman built a contraption to let her cat click her mouse, and purportedly create unenforceable EULAs:

As he is not a legal entity, I don’t really know how kitty’s agreements would stand up in court, but I like to think he would be responsible for any breaches of contract, assuming the agreement is even enforceable. After all, he is not even of legal age, at least in human years.

How adorable.  Simba is clearly way more intelligent than most other cats, too, what with being able to spell properly and write in cursive and all that.

I realize that this was a joke (and another reason to post cat pictures on the internet, one of the founding reasons for the invention of the internet, along with viewing pornography and arguing about professional wrestling), but I can’t imagine that this EULA wouldn’t be enforceable.  Sure, the cat pressed the button, but the user rigged up a contraption and enticed the cat to stand on it.  Seems to me that’s enough action to show consent, as the user could have just as easily not rigged up the contraption or enticed the cat.

On the other hand, though, maybe they’re on to a novel theory: so long as you don’t physically come in contact with the keyboard or mouse, maybe you can’t be held accountable for anything that happens through your computer!  Time to go buy a pair of gloves and fire up BitTorrent!

Quick thought about Facebook’s EULA

I’m working on a longer post about Facebook’s EULA, but one thing about this whole mess deserves separate comment.  A recently released comment by a Facebook spokesman states the following:

We are not claiming and have never claimed ownership of material that users upload.

OK, so, Facebook doesn’t “own” user submitted content.  That’s great.  However, they take:

an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose, commercial, advertising, or otherwise, or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing.

Uh… so… they can do basically whatever they want with it, including using it in their advertising, selling the right to use it to other people, basing derivative works off of it, etc.  But at least they don’t claim to own it!  Yay!

Also, both the old version and the new, controversial version of the Facebook EULA have been made available in the EULA gallery.

New Feature – The EULA Gallery

Since we just started, I suppose pretty much every feature is new.  However, I thought this deserved special attention.

We plan to spend some time here reading, discussing, and analyzing (and mocking?) End User License Agreements, or EULAs.  One way to support that discussion will be our new EULA Gallery.  If we discuss a EULA, we’ll archive the discussed version there for posterity.  We may also post other interesting EULAs for general comment discussion, or just for reference.

If you enjoy EULAs as much as I, the FinePrintReader, enjoy EULAs, I’m sure you’ll enjoy our gallery.  Of course, since that statement will probably apply to approximately no one, I hope you at least grudgintly find it marginally useful.