Forum Friday – Terms of Service

Dec 14, 2007 by

Every Friday I like to share an interesting thought, discussion, or resource from the forum here on the site. There are lots of fantastic ideas out there, and most of them aren’t mine, so it’s a nice way to broaden the discussion and include many voices. Today’s thought comes from AndyAK, our Alaskan commentator, about the “Terms of Use” that many of us 99.9% of us usually just scroll through, skipping all of the reading, in order to get to that little “I Accept” button. Here’s a link to the original post, with a few quotes from it below:

AndyAK:
If you read the TOS for the site, YouTube expressely prohibits capturing its content in any way other than visiting the site or using its own download player.

I started wondering about where our right starts and stops in connection to stuff like this. I realize, on one hand, YouTube has every right to say “Use it this way, or don’t use it”. On the other hand, does that trump Fair Use?? How restrictive COULD they be? (Don’t view our site unless you watch 3 commercials every hour”?

Personally, I don’t feel bad taking content from YouTube to use in a classroom (the site is blocked by our district), but I’m wondering about other’s reaction to the YouTube TOS.

At first read, it strikes me odd that YouTube would have such a TOS that precludes capturing their video through means other than what they provide. In today’s web2 atmosphere, RSS and XML have made almost any content available by any means. Torrents and peer to peer networks mean that large amounts of data can be transferred, shared, and downloaded easily. The entire web2 movement is built upon the flexibility and openness of content, whether by means intended by the author or not. If someone can “rip” a YouTube video and download it using a program, then they’ll more than likely do it.

On the other hand, YouTube, just like any other commercial entity, must protect it’s product (in this case, the videos), and how it delivers that product to consumers. Unfortunately, since it’s product is for all appearances free, it’s easy for a TOS that limits how consumers get the product to be ignored. I can appreciate what YouTube is attempting to do, but as Andy said, if I need a video at school, and I can’t get to that video at school because of the filters, I’m going to go home, “rip” that video using some downloader and/or converter program, and then bring it in to school to show off of a CD or flash drive. While I don’t think it really falls under a copyright/fair use issue, it still breaks the Terms of Service of the site; however, when put in a difficult place of not being able to use content due to circumstances beyond your control, many teachers could justify using other means to obtain content from YouTube that isn’t covered in their Terms of Service. And I personally know some that have.

1 Comment

  1. Carla Reissman

    I think another relevant point is that YouTube does not pay its contributors. So does it have a right to their material in perpetuity or just for single usage?

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