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Is it time to leave LinkedIn?

LinkedIn had updated its privacy policy and user agreement. It's been quite some time since I've read either document, so it's entirely possible the following troublesome language has been in their user agreement long before now:

] Additionally, you grant LinkedIn a nonexclusive, irrevocable, worldwide,
] perpetual, unlimited, assignable, sublicenseable, fully paid up and
] royalty-free right to us to copy, prepare derivative works of, improve,
] distribute, publish, remove, retain, add, process, analyze, use and
] commercialize, in any way now known or in the future discovered, any
] information you provide, directly or indirectly to LinkedIn, including,
] but not limited to, any user generated content, ideas, concepts,
] techniques or data to the services, you submit to LinkedIn, without
] any further consent, notice and/or compensation to you or to any
] third parties.

Um, er, no. I'm not in the habit of posting original work to LinkedIn the same way I do on LJ and the way I would on Facebook if I were there, the notion that I'm granting them the right to do whatever they want to with information I provide, including ways that haven't even been discovered yet, well, no. This is the exact attitude that's kept me off Facebook. (And, in Facebook's case, their practice of spamming and mis-stating things in ways that drive wedges between friends rather than helping connect them.)

I'll sleep on it, and talk with a few people who understand contractual language and rights better than I do. Until I decide one way or another, I won't be accepting LinkedIn invitations or otherwise using their services since doing so indicates acceptance of this contract.

Comments welcome.



( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 5th, 2011 01:32 am (UTC)
It's the "indirectly" part that bothers me. What if I point to my original content elsewhere? What if one of my contacts does?
Jul. 5th, 2011 01:59 am (UTC)
If the connections you gain from LinkedIn are more valuable that the (to me, very slight) chance of intellectual property theft, you should keep using LinkedIn. I believe that this language is mostly so they have freedom to monetize themselves at some point in the future, and is not indicative of any nefarious plans. If I'm wrong, I would expect the nefarious plans to involve LinkedIn Answers, so avoid that part of the site.

I believe "indirectly" to refer to the use of merging microblogging feeds with LinkedIn status updates.
Jul. 5th, 2011 02:25 am (UTC)
That seems to have been written by someone who likes to cover _all_ possibilities, and I don't think I'd sign up for it. Although... if "improve" includes correcting all typos of "its", it might be worthwhile. (Ahem!)

On another hand, I probably didn't read the LiveJournal TOS contract really carefully.

Jul. 5th, 2011 10:35 pm (UTC)
Oops! It's fixed. Well, one of them, anyway.
Jul. 5th, 2011 03:49 am (UTC)
It seems to me that more and more of the various online social networking things are including things like this in their terms of service. I'm guessing here, but since to be viable they have to have LOTS of individuals using their service. In order to get that many, the service, at least at the basic level, has to be free of charge.
But they seem to be finding that users who upgrade to paid account levels are not providing enough income to support the service. So they need to find ways to extract money from the service without changing the basic model of the service. Advertising is the first obvious method. But advertisers don't pay that much for online ads.
So that leaves data mining the user's profile informattion, contacts and journal entries for improving their ad revenues and selling that aggregated social info to whomever has money. But they need to assert a legal claim to all that individual user information. Add in a committee of lawyers and MBAs who want to own the world, and you get a TOS from Big Brother.

I don't like it, but I don't see a way to stop it either.
Jul. 5th, 2011 06:45 am (UTC)
Exactly. If I have something to say, I usually say it here on LJ, then link to it on the other social networking services I use.
Jul. 5th, 2011 09:56 am (UTC)
I've put LinkedIn on my spamblock list because of invitations I get from total strangers, and repeated "reminders" when I ignore invitations from people I do know. I'm guessing (perhaps someone can confirm or deny this) that LinkedIn has adopted the sleazy practice of asking people to provide their email account passwords, thus giving it access to every address in the sucker's address book. One person "invited" the entire UK filk mailing list to LinkedIn, then lamely apologized it was an "accident."

The thought that an outfit that does something like that is demanding authorization to "copy, prepare derivative works of, improve, distribute, publish, remove, retain, add, process, analyze, use and commercialize, in any way now known or in the future discovered, any information you provide, directly or indirectly to LinkedIn" merely to protect itself against lawsuits doesn't begin to wash. The grant is "irrevocable," meaning that quitting LinkedIn doesn't release you.

LinkedIn is run by sleazes. Get away from them.
Jul. 5th, 2011 04:55 pm (UTC)
I likewise stayed away from LinkedIn because my first few encounters with it were spam.
Jul. 5th, 2011 03:48 pm (UTC)
I don't see how to legally do what any social networking site does in its day-to-day operations without essentially those rights. If they add auto-linking or syntax highlighting or something next week, that's arguably a derivative work. If a partner site implements it, they need the ability to pass that right to the partner. Etc.

LinkedIn isn't a place where you put content, anyway, so it seems mostly moot. It does seem overly strong, but I'm having a hard time lopping off any individual bits as clearly not needed. The normal IP model doesn't mesh very well with how things are used on the web, is the root cause I think.
Jul. 5th, 2011 05:11 pm (UTC)
While I'm no lawyer, it strikes me as unnecessarily broad in many ways. I don't see, for instance, why they need to lay claim to "ideas, concepts, techniques or data" in addition to actual "content," or why they couldn't add a restriction such as "for the purposes of implementing and maintaining LinkedIn's online services."
Jul. 5th, 2011 05:19 pm (UTC)
Specific example: If you mention a patent which you hold on LinkedIn and give its number, then is that "information you provide ... indirectly to LinkedIn"? If so, are you giving them permission to "use and commercialize" the ideas and techniques described in your patent?
Jul. 5th, 2011 06:18 pm (UTC)
That's obviously crazy...but not obviously wrong. Okay, the "indirect" thing may be a problem in this kind of way.
Jul. 5th, 2011 06:16 pm (UTC)
Your last restriction prevents them from doing anything closely-tied with partners, which seems to be the big popular thing right now.

I think you're right about at least "ideas, concepts, techniques". Not sure what "data" is in this context.
Jul. 5th, 2011 10:04 pm (UTC)
You may wish to read Simon Bradshaw's remarks about a similar fuss over a change in Dropbox's terms of service. (Dropbox uses some of the same phrases that appear in the Linkedin passage you quote.) As you may know, Simon has expertise in the legal aspects of cloud computing.
Jul. 6th, 2011 12:05 am (UTC)
Thanks for the link! As Simon's column points out, Dropbox includes the restriction "...to the extent reasonably necessary for the Service." I don't see any such restriction on the LinkedIn TOS, and that's my primary problem with it.

Of course, Dropbox accidentally leaving everything open for a few hours is pretty darned scary. I expect to see more mistakes like that as more and more computing is done in the cloud.
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 29th, 2011 02:09 pm (UTC)
Re: unrelated comment
Just in case you read this here, yes; you're welcome to use the photos. I'll try to find your email address to reply directly. FYI, my email address is in my LJ profile for direct communications in the future.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )


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