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Favorite Web sites are deceiving us

I think it is time that we are all aware of the seedy underbellies of both MySpace and YouTube.

According to several articles and blogs circulating the internet over the past week, these two W eb sites, though seemingly harmless in nature, have evil plans hidden in the User Agreement Terms.

This came about when established musicians such as Billy Bragg read the fine print of MySpace’s User Agreement Terms and found this little statement: MySpace has the right to “use, copy, modify, adapt, translate, publicly perform, publicly display, store, reproduce, transmit and distribute” any work on the web site, including songs and videos.

Now, since Rupert Murdoch, owner of the Fox network and Fox News, is also the owner of MySpace, one can see how problematic this might be.

This would mean that Rupert Murdoch’s company can lift songs from small, independent bands trying to make an audience by using MySpace to spread the word, and put it in a commercial on Fox during and episode of one of the best shows ever made in the history of mankind and beyond, “Prison Break.”

I’m just kidding about “Prison Break.” I hate that show.

In response, MySpace modified their terms and made people a lot happier.

However, YouTube isn’t marching to the same tune as MySpace.

According to YouTube’s terms, “By submitting the User Submissions to YouTube, you hereby grant YouTube a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display and perform the User Submissions in connection with the YouTube Web site and YouTube’s (and its successor’s) business” in any media formats and through any media channels.”

In response to all the flak that YouTube has gotten over the past week, they have not modified anything in their terms but rather made a press release stating that the terms had been misinterpreted.

But really, how could those terms be any clearer?

These terms are insanely unrealistic and unfair.

They go against everything that YouTube, and MySpace for that matter, are about.

Underground bands use MySpace to get their music heard without cost.

They also use YouTube to do the same thing, with the added bonus of being able to post music videos.

If YouTube owns any music video a band put on there, is it really worth it to even bother?

One of the reasons bands go through these sites for publicity is so they can avoid going to the major labels looking for love, when in the end the label will own and copyright all of the bands music.

There isn’t any difference anymore between the sites and the major labels if the sites can sell your music without giving you any royalties whatsoever.

I understand the argument that can be made about the Web sites having to make some money.

I realize that servers cost money and that all of that web space isn’t free.

But I can’t log in to MySpace without seeing eighteen advertisements about dating services.

I can’t even view my own profile or those of my friends without being offered a free Sony Vaio laptop computer or a new, fingernail-sized video iPod.

I thought all these annoying ads with flash animation that slow down my system resources generated some revenue.

And I don’t understand why Rupert Murdoch needs even more money, anyway. The man owns Fox.

The moral of the story is that the free exchange of ideas is a time that is in our past.

We can’t participate in these seemingly free Web sites without something being taken away.

So, what is the solution?

I’d call for a boycott on both MySpace and YouTube, but that’s definitely not realistic.

I’m pretty sure that if people stop using these sites even for a day, we’ll all start to get the shakes.

And however unreasonable the terms are, independent bands rely on the services of these sites.

On second thought, however, maybe it is time to wean ourselves of off these habits.

Send comments to Jeff at [email protected].

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