WOULD YOU SIGN THIS?

When you post User Content to the Site, you authorize and direct us to make such copies thereof as we deem necessary in order to facilitate the posting and storage of the User Content on the Site. By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company 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, on 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. You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content. The Company does not assert any ownership over your User Content; rather, as between us and you, subject to the rights granted to us in these Terms, you retain full ownership of all of your User Content and any intellectual property rights or other proprietary rights associated with your User Content.

That’s what I asked my students to do. Sign the “user agreement” I said was required for me to accept and grade their work for our NMC 301: Writing for the Professional Media class. A handful signed. Some balked. Others wanted to discuss it.

We read it over line by line. Do you understand, I said, that this gives me

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, on 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.

That great moment in teaching when they’re quiet because they’re thinking, not sleeping.

No, they said. You can’t have that. That’s not fair, they said. That means you can take anything and make anything out of it and sell it, transform it, place it in an unflattering light, have your way with it and we have no recourse, right?

Yup, I said.

Well no way, they said.

Well yes way, I said. How many of you have a Facebook account?

All hands up. Mine included.

That means you’ve already given Facebook, known as “The Company” …..

….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, on 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.

Newsflash:

If you have a Facebook account, you’ve signed their user agreement. If you signed their user agreement, that is only one paragraph that you’ve agreed to. I did it. I checked the box. Drank the Kool-Aid. Bit the hook. Didn’t even read the thing. I wanted me some Facebook!

A wise colleague, a lawyer named Ron Seymour, showed me the Facebook User Agreement. Appalled, ashamed, I took it to my students.

Here it is: http://www.facebook.com/terms.php

And, of course, I’m about to start a Facebook Group about it!!

Back in the day, when the idea of video telephones was promised as the Next New Thing, I despaired.

You mean to tell me that my phone rings and if I’m half asleep and pick it up the telemarketer or cable guy or school principal SEES me? The intrusion appalled me.

Fast forward to Facebook, one of favorite exits to stop on the Information Superhighway to avoid writing or grading or parenting. I’ve just discovered the same intrusive hitch. Who knows why it took me so long to notice. I’m blissfully chatting away, searching for old high school pals, catching up with old colleagues leaping out  the windows at various newspapers, and suddenly a small box pops up on the lower right side of the blue line on the bottom of my screen  and it’s shrieking “HEY PAM!!!” And I’m like, WHAT?? It’s a former student. I look over and it’s telling me there are 13 of my “Friends” also online. It dawns on me. THHEY ALL KNOW I’M ONLINE BECAUSE I KNOW THEY’RE ONLINE BECAUSE THE LITTLE FREAKIN’ BOX TELLS THEM SO! And I’m in my jammies!!

Quickly closed everything, logged off, turned off, turned out the lights, shut the door. What an invasion.

I’m not on Facebook now. Nobody can find me. Safe at last in the comfort and privacy and peace of my own blog.