Elon University

A vision for the future

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Name: Matthew Roberts

Bio: Computer Science Graduate

Area of Expertise: Technology Developer/Administrator

Topic: Controversial Issues

Headline: Content Ownership

Nutshell: Lawyers and companies will profit from disputes over who owns submitted content.


As we upload more photos, videos and write more text on sites with usage policies which often transfer content ownership to the site, people will be locked in to legal battles trying to retain the original rights to their now-successful previously submitted content.

If a picture submitted to Facebook later goes on to become a work of art or a message publicly displayed on it becomes a highly profitable extract/theory/idea and the site claims ownership of all submitted content will the social network attempt to pursue this in court?

If I chat to my friends over the MSN network about potential solutions to a difficult problem and MSN in five years time update their policy so that they own all the content passing through their servers and thus can right ownership could I fail to later patent my ideas in 20 years time?

Budding artists uploading their songs to YouTube could in future be fighting a legal battle with Google if the privacy policy dictates that Google owns the video and all the content it contains.

Perhaps even this summary may become Elon’s property?

Date Submitted: December 23, 2008