Day: August 9, 2009

Writing4all.ie

Eoin Purcell

UPDATE: Writing4all.ie have now updated their terms and conditions and I believe that the terms i referenced in this post have been erased. I am happy to say that they have been much more specific in their language. The ownership clause now reads:

You own your User Content, not us. User Content is defined as text, pictures, video, sound and other files legally posted by you on the Site. You grant the Company and its affiliates a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free right to display your User Content (in whole or in part) on the Site or on site affiliates that bear the Writing4all name – Facebook, Twitter. You also grant each user of the Site the right to access, display, view, store and reproduce such your User Content for personal use. You represent and warrant to the Company that you have the right to grant the licenses stated above.

This is a huge improvement!
Eoin

On the face of it, Writing4all.ie seems a nice idea, a place for Irish writers to share, collaborate and build community:

Welcome Guest! You’re viewing these pages as a guest. To be able to add or comment on works please join or login. Writing4all.ie is an online writing community and resource centre for Irish writers. Share your creative writing with others and get instant feedback and constructive criticism.

Our writing resources give you all the latest news on writing courses, writing groups, book launches and workshops in your area. Read the latest news in our blog or discuss books and the world of literature in our lively forums.

Free memberships are available to all and we welcome poetry, fiction, non-fiction and drama. Members can enter our regular poetry, fiction and non-fiction competitions and contests.

Sounds very nice and indeed, if that was it I would be fine with it. But it’s not it. When you read through the site terms and conditions you find this gem (emphasis mine):

You own your User Content, not us. You grant the Company and its affiliates a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free right and license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, publicly perform and publicly display your User Content (in whole or in part) and/or to incorporate such your User Content in other works in any form, media, or technology now known or later developed.

What this means is that if you upload writing to the site, Original Writing, the owner of Writing4all.ie and a self-publisher company I have discussed here before, can publish that work without any need to pay you a royalty or even consulting you as far as I can tell. Those are some pretty extravagant permissions!

Most other sites will specify these permissions for the extra content you provide but not the creative writing you upload. The basic problem is that the terms makes no allowances for separating the content that you create on the site and the creative work you upload TO the site. If they made this differentiation clearer and excluded the creative content from the terms above I believe the terms would be much fairer. If you doubt that, read the definition of user content:

You are solely responsible for any activity and content (including, without limitation, data, text, information, screen names, graphics, photos, profiles, audio and video clips, and links to third-party content) that is posted under your screen names (collectively, “User Content”).

It is possible of course that this isn’t intentional and that the terms are simply sloppily drafted but there is much to be wary of here. At the very least the terms as set out need revision and extra definition, not a situation you should allow your content to get trapped in.
Eoin

Some Sunday History Links

Eoin Purcell

Really interesting post about Colbert and Academic Spies by the Wonders & Marvels folks:

Jean-Baptiste Colbert (1619-1683) knew that well-paid scholars potentially make effective and sometimes brutal intelligence agents.
He also knew they had the requisite skills to make state surveillance systems. With their knowledge of law, feudal history and archival practices, Colbert trained a number of top ecclesiastical scholars such as Étienne Baluze and Joseph-Nicolas Foucault, and the d’Hozier family to help him make and manage police and tax files on French parliamentarians and nobles.

Just because the tool is there and I think we should always use useful tools, I bashed out a tagmash on LibraryThing for France, 17th Century, some interesting results. I’d like to see this being deeper and maybe a little more non-fiction focused but ut sure makes for an great jump off point.

Weidenfeld & Nicolson have acquired a one-volume history of World War II by Anthony Beavor. This is almost assured of being a massive seller from The Bookseller:

The new book, which is likely to be at least 700 pages long and titled simply The Second World War, is provisionally set for publication in 2012. Little, Brown and Company will publish the book in the United States.
Beevor’s Stalingrad has sold well over 400,000 copies in all editions through Nielsen BookScan, and Berlin close to 200,000, while D-Day has sold over 100,000 copies since publication in hardback in May. The Battle for Spain has sold close to 70,000 
copies through Nielsen BookScan.

If the book is anyway as good as Norman Stone’s book, World War One: A Short History, (which by the by didn’t require 700 pages to deliver a great text) it will be a very welcome volume.

A rather excellent infographic on the history of US Government bailouts since the 1970s.

And, for the date that is in it, read a little something on The Battle of Pharsalus, Ceaser’s victory over the forces of Pompey.

Eoin