Update: YouTube's response is here (scroll down to the end of the post).
Earlier today on BoingBoing, I pointed to discussions around the blogosphere about YouTube's newly updated Terms & Conditions. As Eliot Van Buskirk wrote on the Wired News music blog "Listening Post," the new policy appears to give YouTube more rights over user-uploaded content than before. Link to post, with some insightful comments, both pro and con, from readers.
I asked Jason Schultz of the EFF what he thought of the news, and he tells BB:
Your commenters are pretty much correct. YouTube wants to CYA itself in case it flows into new formats with old videos, e.g., cell phone downloads. They don't want to have to go back and relicense all the content in new mediums. And its also true that simply yanking the video will cut off all their rights, which is a powerful weapon to keep them in check.
When the Billy Bragg folks complained about MySpace, it was basically over the same issue, so now that MySpace has responded with some clarity, it might behoove YouTube to do the same.
One thing they could say is that any reproductions, distributions, derivatives, etc. that they make of your work would not be sold separately as a distinct product. This would keep them from burning CDs or DVDs and the like.
Aaron Newton of CNET says,
I launched and ran CNET's Download.com Music service and worked at length with our lawyers to craft our terms and conditions.
What I can tell you is that these words, such as "to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform..." etc. are really more about hosting media than anything else. For instance, a derivative work is a sample or a screenshot. Embedding the media for consumption is a performance. When our lawyers first wrote our Ts&Cs they read just like this because these words carry specific legal meanings. I eventually convinced them to re-author these terms in, you know, English, and to say that we have the right to host your material, display the material on our site and our business partner's sites, make the material available to our users as downloads and streams (artists can choose streaming only), etc.
My point is that looking at YouTube's policies, they read like they want to own your soul, but in legal terms, they look very common and reasonable. Personally, I think that services like these should spell it out in plain English.
In case you're curious, here's our policy that we wrote (just as an example): Link