Sunday, October 23, 2005

After posting about my newfound love of Writely, I have discovered (via eHub) a new online word processing tool, The appeal of, to me, is the spreadsheet capability that is scheduled to be available in November according to the FAQs.

In addition to the spreadsheet option, it is also supposed to be implementing a presentation capability as well.

Update: Well, after trying to sign up for a account, I am somewhat less enthusiastic. At first glance, it seems as though they require a lot of personal information in return for an account. In reality, you only need to enter a username, password, first and last name, email address, and phone number. Why on earth is phone number a required field?!

Plus, a very quick look at the terms and conditions (yes, I actually usually do check that stuff out before agreeing to it) leaves me a bit curious about a few things:

Who owns copyright for the information I store on the site? Their copyright sections just confuse me.

Writely is much more clear on this, saying that information from the site is under copyright. That differentiates nicely between content I save to the site and content the site puts out. Plus, Writely has a section detailing "Your Intellectual Property Rights" in its Terms of Use.

Second, from "5. Editing, Deleting and Modification We reserve the right in our sole discretion to edit or delete any documents, information or other content appearing on the Site." So, they can just delete stuff I put on there if they don't like it? I suppose where I need clarification is in reference to what counts as "content appearing on the Site." I would assume that my documents would only be viewable by me, so does that appear "on" the Site?

I hate legal jargon. I have a feeling I'm just showing my incredible ignorance when it comes to that kind of thing here, and the site is probably fine. Who knows.


Rachel R. said...

Kate! Writerly is the best thing EVER! Thank you thank you thank you! Now I must tell the other librarians... Nice blog, by the way :)

Liz said...

Grr! I was just going to comment about my interpretation of what the Terms of Use meant, when I realized that since I haven't passed the bar yet, doing so would most likely be a violation of professional ethics. Damn. This is the second time this has happened to me in two weeks! (Another friend wanted advice on how to beat a noise violation citation.) Law school is USELESS.

Kat said...

Rach - Glad you like my blog. :) Also glad you found Writely - it's the best! Hope all is well in your Library Land!

Liz - What good are you if you can't give me legal advice? Wow, you can't even interpret the Terms of Use from a little website, huh? I'm sure the professional ethics are there for a reason, though (prevents you from giving me very bad advice, right? haha). :)

Nye! said...

My understanding of the rules of ethics is that we not-yet-lawyers are free to give out all the legal information we want -- we just can't give out any legal advice. So we're permitted to explain legal jargon, even if we can't recommend a course of action.

With that in mind, it bears mentioning that you have copyrights in anything you create (as long as it's copyrightable in the first place, of course). You don't need to register it and you don't need to expressly claim copyrights in it. And they can't assume your copyrights by virtue of your transfer of information to them. Absent an express assignment, copyrights stay with the creator.

It doesn't seem to me that there is any express assignment in those Terms of Use -- in fact, at the end of paragraph 2 they note that "[t]he posting of information or materials on the Site does not constitute a waiver of any right in such information or materials." And while it's true that the word "content" is ambiguous, the context suggests that they're talking about the "content" of their site -- their templates and programs and whatnot. Later in the Terms of Use (paragraph 16) they also note that they "respect the intellectual property of others" and ask their users to do so as well by notifying them of any infringing documents posted on the site. To me this appears to be an implicit declaration that they have no rights in any user-posted document.

So that's my non-advising analysis. But here's some non-legal advice -- if it's not clear, you can always ask.