By posting Content on an [AOL Instant Messenger] Product, you grant AOL, its parent, affiliates, subsidiaries, assigns, agents and licensees the irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide right to reproduce, display, perform, distribute, adapt and promote this Content in any medium. You waive any right to privacy. You waive any right to inspect or approve uses of the Content or to be compensated for any such uses.
A spokesman for the company, Andrew Weinstein, says the warning was intended to be only about content AIM users post for all to see, such as a “Hot or Not” photo on which others vote, not conversation between two people. But it’s specious for a company to create and stick with a legal policy that allows such a thing while insisting the company would never use it. This is like when U.S. Defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld downplayed invasive elements of the USA Patriot Act because they hadn’t been used.
In both cases, if the offensive abilities are worth so little, they shouldn’t be codified.
The publication eWeek, which broke the story, confirms with lawyers that AOL’s defense is weak. Just like its service. And that’s what makes this invitation to paranoia, and the risk of alienating users or scaring off new ones, so bizarre.
Thanks to Carl for pointing out the issue.