So, was I overreacting? I think not. As an author and as a communications pro, and as someone who has helped to run a federal regulatory agency, I am not scared off by legalese and I understand copyright law and how it affects my business, thank you. The TOS as written (see below) was contradictory--we need an unfettered license to do whatever, but we're only going to use it for X. Either you need it unfettered, or you don't.
Worst of all, this change came only after people complained. The post below is now one of the best-read posts on this blog, which tells me a) that Dropbox had lots of fans and b) these terms come nowhere near what they thought they were signing up for. You can see some of that in the comments, and on Twitter. lindseyb16 shared, as a reminder, how Evernote deals with the same issue, and I think communicators have a great lesson here--a what-to-do from Evernote and a what-not-to-do from Dropbox. Lesson? Don't tell me your intent is good when your legal language suggests an opening a truck could drive through. It's a trust thing.
Here's this morning's post, a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free one:
It happened over the holiday weekend, so no wonder you missed it. Joe Bonner shared this Dave Winer tweet and blog post about Dropbox's new terms of service, and after reading it and the new terms, I deleted my account, too. I'm noting it here because I was a frequent recommender of Dropbox, so I want to correct the record. Here's the problem area:
By submitting your stuff to the Services, you grant us (and those we work with to provide the Services) worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable rights to use, copy, distribute, prepare derivative works (such as translations or format conversions) of, perform, or publicly display that stuff to the extent reasonably necessary for the Service. This license is solely to enable us to technically administer, display, and operate the Services. You must ensure you have the rights you need to grant us that permission.As an author and creator of works, that means any of my own writing or photography or other files stored in Dropbox automatically get licensed to the service for free. Um, no. I've removed my files and deleted my account (go to help and search for "delete account"). There are plenty of other file-sharing and collaboration tools, from Google Docs to Evernote and Amazon Cloud, to turn to. Interestingly, I heard about this on Twitter hours before getting an email directly from Dropbox. Will you delete your Dropbox account? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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