Permission Revoked

I hereby formally, officially and categorically deny, refuse and repudiate the recent changes to the Facebook Terms of Use as they apply to the unilateral, unacceptable and unconscionable claim that Facebook owns my original content in perpetuity.

I have therefore removed all imported content from my personal site and I assert my personal prior and continuing claim of copyright on my content. I also revoke permission previously given temporarily to Facebook in regard to this now removed content.

I proclaim and testify there was never a meeting of minds over the ridiculous and reprehensible notion that Facebook has the right or reason to claim philosophical or practical ownership over my, or anyone else’s, original content.

By continuing to offer service to my account, Facebook indicates that it agrees with this declaration and that it will with all effort and faithfulness uphold, protect and defend my claim of copyright and my positive and affirmative right to revoke permission in regard to any and all use of my content as per the prior Terms of Use. If Facebook choses to end its offer of service, Facebook must then still remove all content covered by our prior agreement, as per the revocability of permission in the previous Terms of Use.

For those interested, my content can still be found on my own website and blog.

Update 26feb09 @ 2:02pm:

Well done, Facebook. I applaud the comeback [also]. And, check out the ‘good’ dialog in this quote about dialogue, perhaps missing a word or two:

“We believe that good dialogue we will get us to the right place… where everyone is more involved and happy.” [via]

As I wrote, about Facebook’s initial response [also], in the comments to WHAT’S GOOD FOR FACEBOOK IS GOOD FOR AMERICA:

The problem with the response from Facebook is that a “philosophy” isn’t worth much when compared to the word of the agreement. That’s tantamount to a verbal addendum to a written contract, which by the way states that it is the “entire” agreement. In other words, it doesn’t matter what they say, because what they do is the thing that matters. This is part of a continuing lesson for those still misled to believe that corporations have anyone’s interest at heart but their own.

They must be pushed back from over reaching or they will.

I have too much respect for the function of the law to dismiss the blatant overreaching of a terms of use that claims permanent permission. Even if it’s that the corporate lawyers were being lazy using boilerplate, and the people in charge were being lazy by not double checking the lawyers’ homework, they did put it in writing.

Take a look at the terms of use at Flickr or Twitter or Virb for examples of how things can be done. The kind of wording that Facebook used isn’t excusable.

And, moreover, until corporate lawyers and their corporate masters get a clue that they are not buying and selling people but rather offering a service to people that can chose to leave with their work and value intact, they deserve to have people freak out at them when they do something stupid.

These things are growing pains. I sincerely hope that Facebook does follow through. I sincerely hope that these incidents help continue to step up every social network’s game, raises awareness, and the level of discourse about privacy and copyright for everyone.

On the other hand, go watch The West Wing’s episode “The Short List” one more time and hash it out that the right to privacy is so important, but at the same time it was the breaking of an anonymous identity that revealed the weakness on the issue of privacy of the ‘home-run’ appointee; and, created the opportunity for the ‘right’ appointee.

Problems with a “flat” namespace

Via digg, “Dell sues web designer because he has the same name.“:

“Paul Dell builds web sites. So, he has had a URL stating as much: dellwebsites.com. Somehow, Dell, the giant computer vendor thinks that people would be confused by that is and is suing for 100,000 Euros in damages.”

Back in the day, I tried to help Olympic Boat Centers register a domain for a company website. Try as we might, the registration would be rejected. the International Olympic Committee had a lock on any domain with the string “olympic” and, as far as I could tell, they were highly prejudicial. The sense of “olympic boat” was completely different depending on the context, and one context was connected to the Olympics. This one meaning was given exclusive meaning because of the relationship and agreement between the IOC and InterNIC/NetSol. Olympic Boat Centers finally gave up trying to argue their case, though they tried everything they could. They finally settled for boatnut.com.

This is the semantic danger of having a flat namespace, where contexts overlap. Another example is the way that disambiguation occurs for wikipedia terms. The relationship between the meaning and the sign is linear and not characterized. Other namespaces that are flat occur in folksonomic tags.

One technique is to offer a label for the relationships. This is also a technique for concept mapping that I recommend. Being able to explain the connection between elements, nodes, terms, etc … is one way to provide texture to the tags. Programmatically, I see this existence of this texture as offering quicker and easier ways to discern the deep texture of a taxonomy that would otherwise be hidden in context.

Update: I wrote an update here, but moved it to a new post.

The end of the BLINK tag!

No more POP-UP, POP-UNDER ads! No more stupid PUNCH THE MONKEY ads!

Via “USATODAY.com – Cyberstalking law opens debate on what’s annoying“:

The law makes it a crime to anonymously “annoy, abuse, threaten or harass” another person over the Internet.

Oh. Wait.

So, it’s okay to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass someone if you’re not anonymous?

Well. Time to pick a good, well-known pseudonym again, I guess. Then, let the harassment begin!

What exactly is the legal definition of “annoying” anyway? That’s a bit subjective. The legal test is whether someone felt annoyed? How would one ever test for perjury on that?

Of course, by “annoy” “someone” I suppose this will become a great way for corporate lawyers to pursue and attack disgruntled consumers. If not for that “anonymous” element, this could become the Basil Faulty law. After all, the Internet would run so much more smoothly, if not for those pesky users!

I half expect to see a revival of the “internet driver’s license” idea next. Then again, there were times, working technical support, that didn’t seem to be such a bad idea. There must be a certain victorious joy in legislating against what other people do.

That reminds me of a quote I once heard. What makes a good law is when laws are created not to stop others from doing something but to help oneself stop a behaviour. I don’t think I agree with that so much, but it’s something to think about.

There’s been a lot of discussion about how there’s no right not to be annoyed. Well, now there’s a law making it illegal to annoy.

This is a case of waiting for the other shoe to drop. This could be the beginning of a string of horrid legislation, or, this could be the beginning of some obscene trial practice.

It’s got the potential of being a train wreck.

This echoes a long standing debate withing the BBS community about anonymity. There’s something that feels sinister about people being anonymous, and there are definitely people that take advantage. The veil of anonymity, or more accurately, perceived anonymity, gives people a feeling they can say things they might otherwise not. That’s a double-edged sword, it’s a tool used to create a forum with a particular character. For Sysops, it was an aesthetic design choice.

Yeah, it’s just another in a series of poorly done governance of behaviour online or related to technology. This really signifies to me that the intersection of law and technology really is still a moving target.

How The U.S. Government Undermined the Internet?

Via Slashdot, “How The U.S. Government Undermined the Internet“:

“sakshale writes ‘The Register has an article about U.S. Government backed policy changes that have led ICANN to redeligate top level domains in such a way as to provide ‘greater state-controlled censorship on the internet, reduce people’s ability to use the internet to communicate freely, and leave expansion of the internet in the hands of the people least capable of doing the job” More from the article: ‘At that meeting, consciously and for the first time, ICANN used a US government-provided reason to turn over Kazakhstan’s internet ownership to a government owned and run association without requiring consent from the existing owners. The previous owners, KazNIC, had been created from the country’s Internet community. ICANN then immediately used that ‘precedent’ to hand ownership of Iraq’s internet over to another government-run body, without accounting for any objections that the existing owners might have.'”

You know, on the face of it …

But, turning over the country root to the country instead of leaving it with a private entity that happened to get control of it isn’t as odd or unreasonable as one might expect. For example, if I remember this correctly, the sub-domains within the US tld that are assigned to cities and counties have been offered to private companies for management, but it’s at the whim of the governmental entity. If a city objects to the entity handling the sub-domain, the private entity really can’t keep possession of the tld.

So, claiming that sovereign control of a country’s own tld should somehow be withheld from the country itself seems a bit suspect of, at best, noblesse oblige. There’s an agenda there that isn’t mentioned. The country tld isn’t owned by the private entity, really. They are just squatters if they don’t have the backing of the country for whom they manage the domain.

And since when has the ownership of domains and the private control of a registry ever been all that great a thing? The creation of the monster Network Solutions out of the corpse of InterNIC is a good thing? Well, InterNIC was not an ideal to be cheered or lauded either, but ICANN at least is an attempt to address the excess power of corporations over the naming system. They have been, sort of, maybe, at least they are giving it the old college try, taking the control of the root servers and the registries away from a centralized, single corporation. Why then does it seem odd that they would do the same for a country tld?

Also, the naming system isn’t the thing that makes the Internet work. Sure, it’s a layer that helps people, who for some reason just don’t remember 32-bit numbers very well unless they have help, connect a name to an IP address, but even if the naming system were to go down completely the Internet itself would keep routing traffic. Now, where the trouble comes is in the way that services are discovered both programatically and personally through the naming system, for example looking up MX records to route mail or the use of the hostname www to designate a web server’s IP address.

Control over the naming system can create difficulty, but it’s not the end of the Internet. That’s a bit of a red herring, because it’s the filtering and traffic shaping that’s the biggest threat, the way that the large corporations would love to balkanize the traffic they transit, creating service tiers and refusing to carry traffic with neutrality across their networks. Now, that’s a serious threat.

There are no clean hands here. To claim that the corporations are the best protectors of the Internet is completely unreasonable. It is in a stalemate between the corporations and the governments that is likely to keep the ecotone vital, that place where there is space for freedom on the network.