Scary New AOL IM Terms of Service

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 is a writer and technologist who has been putting his opinions online since 1995. He believes in three inviolable human rights: life, liberty, and property. He is a Catholic Christian who worships the trinitarian God described in the Nicene Creed. Scott is a husband, nerd, pet lover, and AMC/Jeep enthusiast with a B.S. degree in public administration from George Mason University.