From the new AOL Instant Messenger terms of service:

“In addition, by posting Content on an AIM Product, you grant AOL, its parent, affiliates, subsidiaries, assigns, agents and licensees the irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide right to reproduce, display, perform, distribute, adapt and promote this Content in any medium. You waive any right to privacy. You waive any right to inspect or approve uses of the Content or to be compensated for any such uses.”

This is, of course, BS. First, many users (like me) have never been prompted to agree to this new TOS and therefore cannot be bound by it. Second, software terms of service are not binding contracts anyway. Third, despite AOL’s claims, terms of service do not trump copyright law and authors retain unlimited right to control distribution of their works—even over IM. But the fact that AOL even claims these rights (even though they wouldn’t last 16 seconds in court) is very, very disturbing.

Scott Bradford has been building web sites and using them to say what he thinks since 1995, which tended to get him in trouble with power-tripping assistant principals at the time. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from George Mason University, but has spent most of his career (so far) working on public- and private-sector web sites. He is not a member of any political party, and brands himself an ‘independent constitutional conservative.’ In addition to holding down a day job and blogging about challenging subjects like politics, religion, and technology, Scott is also a devout Catholic, gun-owner, bike rider, and music lover with a wife, two cats, and a dog.