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Yahoo Backs Down (sorta) 83

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the isn't-that-interesting dept.
Jareth writes "In their revised terms of service, Yahoo is trying to make it clear that they do not own content that you submit. They still haven't taken out the sections about 'modify, adapt, ... create derivative works from'. So while they don't own your web page, they can still do anything they want to it. The story is over at Wired. "
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Yahoo Backs Down (sorta)

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...as someone who's getting something for free and has a threat made to his "freedom" to continue using the free thing as he thinks he should be able to. Of course, this is a faux freedom: real freedom is that which no one *can* take away from you, and all the pale imitations are naught but social conventions. Or, as in this case, business arrangement.

    This, incidentally, is where the early free software movemment went astray. Information does *not* inherently "want to be free". Stallman's brilliant contribution was recognizing this and crafting the GPL so as to restrict the natural inclination to hide information for pecuniary advantage. Put this way it does sound a little like the avowed goals of Communism, but then there's a lot that we take for granted today that arose straight out of Marx's writings and the social movements directly inspired by those writings. Labor unions, 40 hour weeks, health insurance, governmental welfare of all sorts... (yes, of *course* I'm glossing over a lot. This is a friggin' slashdot throw-away comment, not a scholarly work. If you want the latter try a library - do a little work instead of just sitting there with your ass in the chair and a fatuous grin on your face.)

    Let's not make too much more of this than it deserves. Yahoo had an existing policy in place that was thoughtlessly applied to a newly acquired business, one that was quite different than Yahoo's previous operations. Gosh, I bet they would have revised the agreement without all these tantrums and people turning blue from holding their breath - a better, more carefully drafted one than they did produce no doubt.

    Ah well, the infants will have their fun.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Yahoo need to, at a minimum, allow people to decline the new TOS and remove their pages. The new TOS, both avatars, require a certification that Yahoo is absolved of issues around someone's ownership of content. Further, it might just be that people don't want Yahoo to create any derivative works from their original content.

    It's nothing but smoke.

    I've been through this sort of thing before (when GEnie was taken over by Yovelle Renaissance), and TOS changes like this don't stand up in court if a graceful way out is not available. Anyone in doubt should refuse the TOS and MAIL Yahoo a statement declining the TOS change, requesting all creative content be removed from their system. The letter should reaffirm your copyright and your refusal to grant a license to your works.

    -Greg
  • "So while they don't own your web page, they can still do anything they want to it."

    They say that they don't own the content, but can do ANYTHING they want to it?

    Call me stupid but... isn't that what OWNING something grants you to do to it?

    They still need to patch this :)

    -- Electron

  • Posted by 2B||!2B:

    When many of us threatened to forever pull all content from GeoCities and to never ever use or link to Yahoo again, they changed the terms immediately. My own mail to them included the something to the effect "The customer is always right, and I'm the customer. Respect us, and we will return the favor. Piss us off and you will forever regret it." Oh, how the mighty fall!
  • I do agree that what yahoo is doing is unethical.


    Just like when Geocities added the ubiquitious logo to each page


    Just like when Geocities and Xoom added the pop up
    windows to each page


    Just like how hotmail/deja/excite/yahoo.com mail
    always includes the ubiquitious plug for their service with each mail you send out.


    These are all free to the user services, and thus,
    they have to make money to break even somehow, and
    this is best done with the ads that they do,
    whether for themselves or for others. And
    as with this yahoo deal, these all used methods
    that are considered unethical or innappopriate
    for the medium.


    Geocities-cum-Yahoo is in a weird boat; Geocities,
    without being owned by Yahoo, was merely providing
    free webspace with some minor content of their own.


    On the other hand, Yahoo *IS* a content provider,
    given yahoo.com, my.yahoo.com, and Yahoo Magazine.
    They are in the unique position that if they happen to see content they wish to adsorb from pages
    that are using their free service, they will do
    it.

  • The Yahoos write:
    You agree to indemnify and hold Yahoo, and its subsidiaries, affiliates, officers, agents, co-branders or other partners, and employees, harmless from any claim or demand, including reasonable attorneys' fees, made by any third party due to or arising out of your Content, your use of the Service, your connection to the Service, your violation of the TOS, or your violation of any rights of another.
    They should work on this, too. A proper indemnification clause would require Yahoo to immediately inform the person who has agreed to be financially responsible so this person can take immediate control of the case. This one does not. According to 9. Yahoo can bollix up the claim, ignore any defenses you might have and then bill you for their incompetence. Again, the license language is utterly unfair to users.
  • I'll bet that Yahoo's goals are not what their lawyers wrote in the TOS. I'll even bet that they will never try to enforce some of the more onerous provisions of 8 or 9, but they did write it and they did require agreement to get access to the sites (even if to remove them).

    Yahoo screwed up. I hope they fix it. Yahoo could have explained in the TOS how they expect to use the pages.

    First draft langauge follows: "You authorize us to use this information as expected based on the current operations of Yahoo and GeoCities. This includes but is not limited to the following: You authorize us to duplicate this page for multiple servers. You authorize us to add advertising, pop-ups and watermarks as we deem necessary. You authorize us to serve your pages when requested. If you have any questions about how we use your pages, contact ______. You will always have the opportunity to remove your pages if you do not like the way we are presenting or using them."

  • You agree not to hold Yahoo Inc. responsible for anything that someone else claims that you did.
    No. It does not say that. It says that you have to pay ("indemnify") Yahoo for any expenses associated with a claim made by a third party. It does not say the claim has to be valid. It does not say that Yahoo has to contest the claim. It does not say that Yahoo has to tell you about the claim. Under Yahoo's language, Yahoo can settle the claim and come back to you for indemnification.
  • The language we are complaining about has not been restricted as you think it might have. I think Yahoo intended that, but they need better, more fair language.

    Lawyers get used to the give and take of negotiations when writing contracts. When there is no other side to negotiate with, the lawyers have to make an extra effor to assure that the contracts are not one-sided.

  • Yahoo says that they do not own the content, but then assert non-exclusive but complete ownership rights by claiming:
    By submitting Content to any Yahoo property, you automatically grant, or warrant that the owner of such Content has expressly granted, Yahoo the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive and fully sublicensable right and license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such Content (in whole or part) worldwide and/or to incorporate it in other works in any form, media, or technology now known or later developed.
    Aside from exclusive use, what do they not own?
  • The business model of most "Free" web space providers is based on publishing derivative works. They take your content, add some ads so to provide some revenue, and then distribute that derivative work. Without permission to distribute and to produce derivatives, the business model doesn't work.
  • by ToiletDuk (6366)
    So if I type my name into a Yahoo search, do they own me?
  • The yahoo service is no more free than any of the major broadcast networks. By using the yahoo services I am in essence making an agreement to view their ads. My time is being traded for their service... their service is only free if you don't value your own personal time.

    ---
    Openstep/NeXTSTEP/Solaris/FreeBSD/Linux/ultrix/OSF /...
  • All these anonymous cowards who apparently don't value their own time keep getting this wrong.

    Just because they are "giving" you a service doesn't it make free. Why? Because you have agreed that for this service you will view their ads. in case you aren't aware this is how portals make money, on the ads. So by using their so called "free" service you are actually paying their bills... Yahoo and its ilk cost as much as you value the time you waste looking at advertisements. Seems some of you don't value your time at all.

    ---
    Openstep/NeXTSTEP/Solaris/FreeBSD/Linux/ultrix/OSF /...
  • ah, but they have already stated that if the content is in any way illegal, it's your problem.

    otherwise it's theirs to do as they like with.

    Lea
  • ... for your stuff, which they also stated in another part of this quite /interesting/ statement.

    Lea
  • IP in this context is Intellectual Property, not Internet Protocol
  • Everytime anyone browses a geocities site, the server is copying (reproducing) your web site and sending it to the client. If you put up a web site there, don't you WANT them to be able to reproduce it?

    Since they add banner ads, they are actually modifying your original work, thus creating a derivative. This is the quid pro quo of free web sites.
  • Certainly your language is much more clear. Now let me ask you this: when was the last time you ever read anything that clear from a lawyer?
  • The courts are not as clear on this as you are.

    Is it reproduction if GeoCities uses more than one server? Is it reproduction if GeoCities uses some sort of cache? Is it reproduction if GeoCities modifies the content as it is "published"?

    In each case, it can be argued logically both ways.

    If you were a group of lawyers for a large corporation would you want to trust the courts to decide the answers to those questions?

    "That's like saying 'I'm an author and I don't want the publisher to print numerous copies of my book and sell them.'"

    That's exactly like what it's saying. If I want the publisher to publish my book then I have to let them have certain publication rights. If I don't like the rights they ask for then I don't have to let them publish my book.

    Yahoo's biggest mistake (from a legal standpoint) was not giving users an easy way out.

    From a commerce point of view, the publishing rights will be renegotiated until they are favorable enough that people will still use them to publish good content. Yahoo! is within their rights to do this. We may not like it, but free web pages on GeoCities are not a special right granted to everyone online. They just needed to give current content providers a way to easily walk away.

  • Why would you want a lawyer? Isn't this GPL-fanatics wet dream? You create something, some else can make a profit of it without giving you royalties...

    Really don't see the problem here.

    Dionysus
    bromius@usa.net
  • Check out the Free Software Foundation website.
    RMS goal is to get rid of IP. GPL is a stepping stone towards that goal (heck, he even recommends that libraries be licensed under GPL now).

    Meaning, you create something. Debian can sell it without giving you a dime.

    Oh, wait, but it's not the same, right? They're grabbing your IP (lets disregard the fact OS people really don't believe in IP, well other people's IP. This thread shows that they do care about their own IP).

    The majority of the OS applications out there have a license that says something like: "This application is covered under the GPL/LGPL v2 or later". Meaning RMS could release a new version of GPL stipulating that all applications using this license would belong to FSF.

    >> YAHOO could, for example, take
    music off a struggling band's site and sell it to a record label. Take your book and sell it to a publisher. Take your photographs,
    cut them up, and use them on their own pages. Sell them to a clip-art gallery. >So that they could use it but nobody else. >How would you like it if YOUR ISP decided to revise its terms of service without telling you

    Wouldn't be stupid enough to sign an agreement where the terms could be changed withour prior warning.

    Dionysus
    bromius@usa.net
  • They just want to cover their butts so they can put up summaries of websites when you're doing a search. I highly doubt that they're going to steal someones invention, or steal someones great screenplay... there are laws against that, and just because someone were to click "Submit" does not mean its legally binding. I don't think there is a single judge who wouldn't feel the same way.

    ~~Kev
  • What would happen if a page was submitted by anyone BUT the owner... like their own web bots. That'd open them right up to a lawsuit. Hell I have a couple pages that I know I didn't submit... if they ever did anything nasty to them, they'd definately see a lawsuit because I didn't even click submit....

    ~~Kev
  • "any Yahoo property" should include mail.yahoo.com.

    So it seems that Yahoo has asserted its right to "use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, or create derivative works from" your private e-mail.
  • by yAm (15181) on Thursday July 01, 1999 @04:43AM (#1823833)
    I sent an email to (probably dark hole) somewhere in Yahoo expressing my displeasure at their behavior:

    Dear Yahoo!,

    I am unable to find another address to which I am able to complain about your plans to usurp you users Intellectual Property, so I am taking my chances and mailing you here.

    I have removed my email address and changed my homepage away from yours in protest of your new TOS. I have been a big fan of Yahoo! pretty much since you started, having not only used you myself, but adding your page to all the systems I install (as opposed the the usual Microsoft or Netscape homepage). I felt that you had one of the best start pages in the business and have made it known to my coworkers and clients that this is the page of choice.

    I will do this no longer.

    Your recent Intellectual Property landgrab is completely uncalled for. Not only is it (probably) legally unfounded, but it is an insult to the userbase that you have either built up or acquired. Being forced to agree with your TOS *before* I could even get in to check and delete my mail is patently unfair. I did not agree and will not agree.

    Perhaps you may be thinking that you will be trying to cover yourself legally, but there are *far* better ways than claiming rights to others' property. Perhaps you think that there are plenty of other free email and web hosting sites. You are correct. And I will find one. One that doesn't feel the need to steal my work.

    I am truly disappointed in Yahoo!. It seems that one of my old friends has just shown himself to be a not only a bad neighbor, but a greedy, one as well.

    I may possibly reconsider rejoining you should you remove the draconian TOS you have imposed, but I would need plenty of evidence of your contrition and large apology to the community that has made you the success that you are today.

    Shame on you, Chris Eidem

    I hope their hard drives seize...

    Chris

  • does it?
    is there a legal procedure for saying,
    "my bad, i take responsibility for what (he/she/it/they) did"?
    i'd suspect not,
    thus the aformentioned indemnity section would be meaningless.
    in addition,
    assuming they did claim ownership of the content,
    (which they don't, but just for the sake of argument)
    it would no longer be YOUR content that caused the "claim or demand".
    i wonder if the above would just apply to civil action,
    and not criminal.
    "claim or demand" is a ways from "infringement" or "infraction".
    and typically, "third party" isn't used to represent authoritative legal action.

    any lawyers present, to set me/us straight on this one?

  • besides trying to cut their losses,
    as many have already left geocities,
    they may just be trying to cover a different problem.
    maybe i'm wrong here,
    but if you upload something illegal,
    and they claim to own it,
    doesn't that make them liable?
    i think they're just afraid people would use the space for warez or other illegal content,
    and since without their new statement,
    they would own it,
    they would be responsible for the content.
    there have been isues on web hosts being responsible for the content before,
    and they would have no chance of winning one,
    if they claimed to OWN the illicit material.
    this was an ass-covering masked by a bad PR move.
  • Not directly.

    But, they can modify you and use that as a derivative work. Kind of like cloning done Andy Warhol style, I guess...
  • That's like saying "I'm an author and I don't want the publisher to print numerous copies of my book and sell them."

    Serving a web page is not reproducing it. Moving it all to a different address and serving it, without notifying the IP owner, would be reproducing it.
  • I wondered if someone would bring up that point.

    I agree, what they ar doing is unethical, but thats life. As I understand it they haven't taken anything yet, they are just putting conditions on the continued use of their service. You have the choice of taking it or leaving it. There is no (insert diety/goverment/philosophy/dogma of choice here) given right to a page on the internet. The only way you can be sure of having a place on the net that will be yours and under your own conditions os to pay for it.

    Seems like that is not a popular philosophy nowdays, everybody has their hand out waiting for something. By all means boycott Yahoo if you feel they are out of line, I think they kind of are, but all the whining because the people that have been giving you something for nothing all this time suddenly change the rules.

    Time to get back to reality, if a web page is iportant enough to get this upset over, maybe its important enough to pay for.
  • I don't understand what you mean by IPs. This is about GeoCities websites, which are all under the same IP or set of IPs.
  • That makes more sense. ;P
  • This is a victory in name only. You may still "own" your information, but Yahoo still holds all the same rights as an owner, except for exclusivity. They can use it, they can change it, they can sell it. Ad banners, watermarks, and all that stuff is different - these places need to survive. Reserving the right to chop up your work and sell it wholesale is another matter.
  • I find your statement a bit unfair, and the logic a bit wrong somehow.

    Seems to me you have this choice:

    (a) No service at all.
    (b) Service, with some forced advertising.

    Just because somebody willingly accepts the advertising in order to obtain the service does not mean that they "don't value their free time at all". It's a symbiotic relationship .. I give a bit of my time in exchange for a service. You seem to imply some sort of parasitic relationship where only Yahoo is getting something.

  • We have always been protective of our work/IP. Those of us who develop free/open software protect it by licensing it under the GPL or other license. Those who write closed source protect it with other copyrights.

    What we don't do is grab all of the software out there and claim it as our own.

    Even if we do steal some.
  • I have to think this is Yahoo's first real Public Relations disaster in there history. If so, I think they have done a pretty good job so far.
  • The difference is that Yahoo has to attribute the information to you. So if they reflect it, reprint it, or otherwise abuse your content, they still have to attribute it to you as the original author. Otherwise, they can do whatever they wish according to their license.

    If you have the license, leave Yahoo and leave them a nasty letter. Someone does read and tally letters. Btw, the biggest hit for them would be if folks said they'll refuse to use Yahoo Shopping and use Yahoo in a corporate situation, since that's their money maker.
  • This is meaningless. They've disclaimed something that they never claimed to begin with (ownership of your IP) but kept the clause that caused the problem (the asserted license to use your IP more or less as they see fit).
    /.
  • IP here is an abbreviation for Intellectual Property.

    Barring evidence to the contrary, I assume that this is simply a pointy-haired screwup, and they merely intended to cover the standard trade-offs for free web space (i.e. adding some ads when the site is displayed). The problem is that the language as written appears to authorize them to do just about anything (e.g. put your content on a "Best of GeoCities" CD and sell it).
    /.

  • If, as I suspect, they intended to merely protect their right to add banner ads, watermarks, and the like to sites when serving them (as per the usual tradeoff for free web space), they'll need to correct the screwup PDQ.

    They have two options:

    1. Pay their lawyers however many hundreds of dollars an hour they charge to redraft the TOS, or

    2. Look for a copy of a rational free-site TOS on somebody's GeoCities Web page, and copy it under their current TOS.
    /.

  • I have to disagree. The reason people are so ticked at Geocities is that the straw has been broken. If you were there in 1996, you would have said it was a real online community. I made lots of new friends there. Then came the ads that defaced your page, over and over again.


    Geo was supposed to be about spirit and community. It did a flip and became about money, greed and eyeballs. That's what's making people so upset.
    They could care squat about community - for example, before you couldn't sell anything on your site. Now you can sell "approved" things on your site. They have constantly changed the rules without consulting their "community".


    People may whine that it is free, but at least one should be treated with dignity and respect and not the ninth arm of an advertising monster. It's no longer about people, it's all greed. Geo killed it's own communities. They forgot the human element that put so much into those pages, however crappy or beautiful they were.


    Check out Hitlercities btw, you'll get a laugh. This poor guy has been chased from server to server by Geo.
    http://thor.prohosting.com/~hitler/

  • Gee...I thought I was from the Chomsky camp...you'd do well to read him. You still can't deny that they started to trample on people's dreams of having a bit of cyberspace, people who thought the net was supposed to be a great sharing, and not dictated by a mother corp.


    I don't spend my life in a fictious community, hell, I'm tree planting this weekend and doing a highway clean up. How about you?

  • Given that Yahoo can still "use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate," or create derivative works from" anything you post on their site, they have, in effect, made themselves "co-owners".

    Nice touch. Hey you still own your work, but we do too!

    A protest site detailing the rights grab by the Yahooligans: Das Extrablatt [geocities.com]
  • This has nothing to do with Geocities, but if you have a XOOM page, you can get rid of that annoying frame ad. Just insert

    onLoad="if(parent.frames.length!=0)top.location= 'index.html';"

    into the body tag, and no more frames.
  • Most of the people who have posted so far seem to be complaining about the same words that they were complaining about before, and completely ignoring the new material that was added to the TOS. For example, look at the second sentence of part 8:

    "You license the Content to Yahoo as set forth below for the purpose of displaying and distributing such Content on our network of properties and for the promotion and marketing of our services."

    In other words, all the language later on in part 8 that so many people are getting themselves worked up over is only valid for the purposes mentioned in the second sentence. This is important, because it means that if Yahoo was to take your IP and use it in a way that was not for the purposes stated in that sentence then the language later in the paragraph no longer applies. It is wrong to read only the second part outside the context of the first part.
  • I think that is a very good point. If a bunch of people started putting nekkid pics of little kids on pages that yahoo and geocities claimed to OWN, then they could be facing some trouble.

    I have to agree that this is part of (if not the only reason) reason that they said this.
  • I think they realized that without the users (the page owners and the people who browse through them) there would be no traffic, which means they make no money. No banners are clicked, no links are gone to. They could not take that kind of a hit.

    Also there are legal issues. What if I decided to put a bunch of illegal content onto one of the pages there? They own it, good, they own my responsibility (hence, they are responsible for anything on the pages, via Kiddie porn etc..)

    just my $00.02
  • You were not the only one my friend, many of us put that watermark up on the most hated list (up there with jar jar).

    I never used and never will use their site, nor click on any link to it or use a banner to it.

    Amen.
  • Some of us are simply examining the re-negotiation, and deciding that, unlike the original deal we agreed to in '96, this one isn't mutualy beneficial.

    In particular, the liability parts are a problem. Yahoo's management may have asked the lawyers for "ya can't sue us for what somebody puts on a site, sue the bozo what put it there" but the "contract" says something a bit more expensive. In theory, some loon could sue them for the subliminal messages said loon claims I put in my page, Yahoo could hire the OJ dream team to tell the loon "OK, you win, here's a million dollars," and then I'd have to pay Yahoo a mill, plus the cost of the lawyers. I'm sure they wouldn't do that, but I don't think I should agree to it.

    And, no, they probably don't want to do anything beyond what is expected of a web host, but the way the "contract" is written, they have the right to.

    Now, I can easily agree to what I think Yahoo actualy wants, but I don't think I can afford what the contract says.

    It never was free. It was a deal that was mutualy beneficial. There is a big difference between being a beggar and taking someone up on an offer.

    Still, I'm kind of sorry to have to bow out. It was fun, and I learned quite a bit. I used the site to learn how to build web sites, and that is now the main focus of my job.

    I think I'll leave the site as it is for a while and see how things shake out. I won't agree to the terms as they are now, but they may change soon.

    By the way - the subliminal messages are designed to turn red-blooded God fearing Anonymous Cowards into pie in the sky communist liberals who spend all their time in a ficticious digital domain. Making them gay is just a side effect.


    Fear my wrath, please, fear my wrath?
    Homer
  • by D. Taylor (53947) on Thursday July 01, 1999 @03:59AM (#1823858) Homepage
    They state that:
    ' Yahoo does not own Content you submit, unless we specifically tell you
    otherwise before you submit it. You license the Content to Yahoo as
    set forth below..'

    And below it says:
    ' By submitting Content to any Yahoo
    property, you automatically grant, or warrant that the owner of such
    Content has expressly granted, Yahoo the royalty-free,...'
    So, Basically, they tell you other wise. They don't *own* the content, but they have a non-exclusive license to use it still.
  • So if some guy copies something that I made on my site @ crosswinds (they have no such policy), yahoo can use it? I will get a lawyer and sue them if they try to take content from me because someone copied to their geocities account. This will be the most interesting part of the ToS
  • by RimRod (57834) on Thursday July 01, 1999 @04:29AM (#1823860)
    I know it's been a few days and you've all dearly missed the Top X lists...but real life beckons occasionally! :)

    1) Sell it to the Chinese. (Or is that Let the Chinese steal it?)

    2) Add a moving "Y" to the bottom of every page. Naaaaaah, no one would EVER be that cheap.

    3) Broadcast it to the entire Internet using Shoutcast.

    4) Test out their new Virtual Paper Shredder on it.

    5) Make Webpaper Airplanes.

    6) Compile millions of personal webpages on a comprehensive CD-ROM. The title? "How Web Geeks Waste Their Free Time". (I know, I know. Free Time is a myth.)

    7) Slashdot it.
  • Hmmm.... I find it very ironic with respect to the recent software piracy thread that everyone is suddenly getting very protective of their work (or is it intellectual property in this case?)

    Some of the arguments made for software piracy, that could be equally applied here were:

    1) They're just virtual bits. How can you own bits? Information wants to be free.

    2) I wouldn't have paid for it anyway, so it doesn't really matter how I use/abuse it.

    3) It costs too much, therefore I'll just take it for free.

    So, it's really ironic that the same people who completely disregarded software author's rights are up in arms when their own homepages are at stake. Does intellectual property only exist if you make it, but not someone else?
  • I personally believe the new sentence added:

    "You license the Content to Yahoo as set forth below for the purpose of displaying and distributing such Content on our network of properties and for the promotion and marketing of our services."

    takes care of my main worry--that Yahoo could use an author's writing or photographs in a collection solely for profit without providing royalties to the author. But are there any legalese types who have dealt with these sorts of things before who could tell us whether this actually limits Yahoo or not? In an email conversation I had with Yahoo, they were adamant that, even before the change of the TOS, they could not do so.

    -=Hastur=-
  • I received the following email from Yahoo copyright which I thought I'd reprint here. To me, it's pretty convincing evidence that they have indeed backed down. I reprint this for two reasons: to inform, and as evidence. If Yahoo ever does decide to steal someone's original work, then hopefully the following can be considered as some sort of verbal contract, since they specifically say:

    "We intend for these rules to be legally binding on Yahoo!. And, as the lawyers say, to the extent that any of these rules conflict with or
    modify the Yahoo! Terms of Service, these rules will prevail."

    Note that it appears to be a generic reply; I'm not actually a member of GeoCities myself:

    --begin--

    Yahoo! does not claim ownership of the content on your site. We never
    have.

    One of the terms in the Yahoo! Terms of Service grants us the license
    (in other words, gives us your consent) to use the content on your
    GeoCities site. We ask for this license to do the job of serving your
    pages to the world, but Yahoo! agrees to the following rules with
    respect to the content on your GeoCities site:

    * You license your content to Yahoo! so that we can display the content
    on your GeoCities site and promote the Yahoo! GeoCities services.

    * The license exists for as long as you continue to be a Yahoo!
    GeoCities homesteader, no longer.

    * Yahoo! has the right to reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, and create
    derivative works of your content only for the purpose of hosting your
    GeoCities site and providing and promoting the Yahoo! GeoCities service.


    Some people have asked if under these rules Yahoo! can do things like
    publish a book or make a movie using your Yahoo! GeoCities homepage
    content. We cannot.

    We intend for these rules to be legally binding on Yahoo!. And, as the
    lawyers say, to the extent that any of these rules conflict with or
    modify the Yahoo! Terms of Service, these rules will prevail.

    Folks, please know that we've built our network of services and tools by
    committing ourselves to our users. Starting in the early days of the Web
    with the Yahoo! directory, we've always made it our job to respond to
    your needs. We understand that we owe any success to you. We have no
    intention of violating the trust that we've built with you over the
    years.

    We're blessed to be working in an industry in which, on a daily basis,
    we hear the good and the bad directly from people like you. We listen
    when you talk to us. The recent merger of Yahoo! and GeoCities does not
    (and will not) change that.

    We understand your recent concerns, but there are some very basic and
    important reasons why an online company such as Yahoo! asks for such a
    license.

    For starters, we use many computers to serve to the world the millions
    of GeoCities home pages. In order to display your pages quickly and not
    lose any of your content (say, in a computer crash), we often need to
    copy your files onto more than one computer. Very simply, the license
    assures that we can do this.

    In addition, if we choose to promote your page on the top of Yahoo!
    GeoCities, or anywhere else on the Yahoo! network (even, for example, in
    a marketing promotion of Yahoo!'s many services), we need to reproduce
    the content. Again, the license assures that we can do this.

    There are many times when we use other companies to help us serve web
    pages on our global network. Sometimes information is changed as it is
    served to the world. For example, if your page contains images in JPEG
    format and the other company's service uses GIF format, your images may
    need to be adapted to fit in.

    These are just a few reasons. Also keep in mind that the Yahoo!
    GeoCities Terms of Service (which have been standard on the Yahoo!
    network) are very similar to the terms of service of many major Web
    sites and online services, including other home page providers.

    We feel the recent merger of Yahoo! and GeoCities will provide many
    exciting opportunities for our users, but if you'd rather not keep your
    home page with us we, obviously, will respect your wishes.

    Please visit this URL and we will remove your home page and account as
    soon as possible.
    http://add.yahoo.com/fast/help/geo/cgi_remove

    If you feel that we may have sent you an inappropriate response to your
    question or comment, please respond to this e-mail and let us know.

    Thank you for your time,

    The Yahoo! Team

    --end--
  • Actually, they don't really modify the code on your web page so much as send some "extra" content to the client at the end of the request.... kinda like this:

    Client requests connection to port 80
    Server answers
    Client requests your web page
    Server sends your web page to the client
    Server sends Geocities watermark code
    Server closes connection

    Theoretically, someone told me in the past that you could get around their code by putting this HTML code at the bottom of your page (It doesn't come out correctly, so just make sure you form the tags properly:

    </HTML><NOSCRIPT><!--

    I don't know if that still holds true, however.

    ---
  • by signe (64498) on Thursday July 01, 1999 @04:22AM (#1823865) Homepage
    All they're trying to do is pull the wool over our eyes. I mean, come on! I know some of you Yahoo people are reading this. Do you think we're stupid or something? All Yahoo did was add some non-legal jargon that means absolutely nothing. Let's take a look at it, shall we?

    Yahoo does not own Content you submit, unless we specifically tell you otherwise before you submit it.


    Sorry guys. You don't own content I submit even if you say this when I submit it. You don't have any ownership rights whatsoever unless I explicitly give them. This statement is just to pacify the reactionists who thought that the later parts gave Yahoo ownership of the content, which they never did. Discard useless sentence number one.

    You license the Content to Yahoo as set forth below for the purpose of displaying and distributing such Content on our network of properties and for the promotion and marketing of our services.


    Oh wow. Looks like Yahoo's limiting how they can use your content, just like Tripod does, right? (And I looked at Tripod's TOS... it's really not that unreasonable) Nope. Look at it from a lawyer's point of view. They never used the word limited or exclusive, so all this is is another empty promise. If they had said limited purposes or exclusive purposes then this statement would be legally binding and you'd have every right to go after them if they used your content for something other than promoting you or the service. Scratch statement number two, but kudos to your lawyers for coming up with something suitably obfuscated that would fool some of the people.

    By submitting Content to any Yahoo property, you automatically grant, or warrant that the owner of such Content has expressly granted, Yahoo the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive and fully sublicensable right and license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such Content (in whole or part) worldwide and/or to incorporate it in other works in any form, media, or technology now known or later developed.


    And here's the first of the original statements. Let's look at it in light of Yahoo adding the first two statements. Well, let's see... we're still giving Yahoo the right to use the content, and although they stated what the purposes are above, they didn't limit them. So the meaning remains the same. They also still have the right to modify and create derivative works. And here's the kicker. They still have the right to distribute and sub-license the content. Which means even IF the second statement about the purposes held any water, they could still sell it to someone else to do with as they please. And just to add insult to injury, they haven't limited the term of the license to the term of your account (like Tripod has).

    Wow. It's so nice that Yahoo backed down. It's so nice that they're not the giant corporation that doesn't care about their customers that we thought they were. Nice try guys, but we're not the mindless sheep you seem to think we are.

    ---
  • > ...just because someone were to click "Submit" > does not mean its legally binding...

    I always thought that's _exactly_ what it means. And if not legally, then at least morally.

    There's a saying "Lump it or Leave it". Unhappy Yahooers should take their "stuff" elsewhere (there's plenty of options) people who'll stay are those who understand that this is purely Yahoo making a sensible, informed decision to impose a lightweight "back-covering" agreement.

    Come on - Yahoo were (and maybe are) pioneers, an excellent ambasador for the web.

    Quit picking on them!

    Btw, I have no affiliation with them, the only service I use is their search facility.

    Mong.


    * Paul Madley ...Student, Artist, Techie - Geek *
  • When I read the new user agreement, I immediately deleted everything of interest from my account and proceeded to send them a very nasty letter (which I'm sure they didn't read).

    Their new policy is shite, but at least I have a site of my own now.

    Oh, if you're a current Geocities user still, I suggest throwing a tag at the end of your code at each page. It will kill anything they insert afterwards, including the watermark or pop-up advertisement. Happy smack-back!

    -ac-
    http://www.almostcool.org
  • I got ticked off at them because I'm one of those who pays their 5 bucks a month so I don't have to do advertising, and they still put that stupid Geocities watermark on my page. How? By modifying the code of my web page.

    I guess I was the only one that got mad because they didn't get rid of the watermark.
  • Sounds like the music industry.

    I think the boycott is a good idea. Stop using geocities and actually pay for your web site.

Ma Bell is a mean mother!

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