Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Why I am not an activist

I was reading about the Pro-Life movement on Newsweek on an article they had detailing a reduced abortion approach and it caused me to realize why I am not an activist - when you are an activist, you are only allowed one point of view at a time. Hold up a sign that says "Right to Life" and you aren't allowed to have any other opinions at that time. If someone comes by and skewers you because you're focusing on that issue and not one of a thousand others, you can't really have an identity other than that sign. Similarly for a Pro-Choice supporter; all of a sudden you take on the entire movement on your shoulders should you decide to speak up. Since I can't dictate the entirety of any movement, nor can I agree with all the speaking points of any particular party, I decline to take on that responsibility. It seems like a very irresponsible way to handle it, but I can bet there are a lot of others out there who would stand for a lot more if only it meant keeping your full identity when you did so. I don't want to become words on a sign.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Authors Beware

I clicked on an adwords advertisement from my gmail and just happened to go to CreateSpace. Now, I am hoping one day to publish a book, so self-publishers always interest me. There are some very good ones, and then there are draconian steal-your-work-from-underneath you sites like this one. Note that I visited two pages on the site: the main page and the terms of service page. No login or trial or seeing content. Note what I have now agreed to, according to their terms of service:

"PLEASE NOTE: If you visit or shop at the CreateSpace website, or any of our members' E-Stores, you automatically accept these conditions. Please read them carefully. In addition, when you use any current or future CreateSpace service or visit or purchase from any business affiliated with us, whether or not included in the CreateSpace website, you also will be subject to the guidelines and conditions applicable to such service or business." (Note - Bold is theirs, not my addition)

So just by being directed to the site, I am already subject to their guidelines, which include the right to email me at any time I'm assuming because I figure at this point if I click on the link that takes me to the Privacy Policy, I am further agreeing to this nonsense. But alas, legalese being what it is (thanks to the ridiculous EULAs we put up with by not reading them,) you'd think all this would be pretty boilerplate....except that you're on a bookpublishing site that has this in the terms of service:

"If you do post content or submit material, and unless we indicate otherwise, you grant us a nonexclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, and fully sublicensable right to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, and display such content throughout the world in any media."

Holy shit, what? Can you repeat that? If I publish or post anything here, I am giving them not only the right to publish my work in whatever form they see fit for their own gratification, but to make derivative works (like movies, games, etc) or to sell my rights to someone else to do the same? Really? What's the point of even retaining the right to the legal work? Why don't they just come out and say that if you make the mistake of putting anything up there of value, they can fully rip you off and there is no legal recourse?

Oh wait, that's right - because then no one would use their service. I hope they don't, for their own sake. There might be a lot of bad teenage poetry out there, but it doesn't need to be stolen from the author through a stupid TOS, either.


(Oh wait, google/blogger has the same shite - "11.1 You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive licence to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services." Guess the author-screwing is an internet-wide sort of affair.)

Oh well, at least google isn't claiming itself a publisher...yet.