Yahoo! Angers Homesteaders

Many Web developers are angrily protesting revisions in Yahoo!-GeoCities terms of service.

The changes, announced June 25, give the company a license to use a GeoCities member’s content in any way it wishes and give Yahoo!-GeoCities irrevocable rights to the work. That means developers are excluded from receiving any royalties resulting from profits Yahoo!-GeoCities may make on homesteader sites.

Once word of the changes reached the developer community, reaction was swift.

“This crosses the line. Yahoo! is claiming that by submitting any content, I am granting an unqualified license for all of my content to be used by Yahoo! in any way it chooses and to create any kind of derivative works.

“They can profit in any way, in perpetuity from my copyrighted works, without ever requesting my permission or providing me with any benefits. Even worse, Yahoo! won’t even let me edit my GeoCities Web site or remove my content from the service without first accepting the new usage contract,” wrote GeoCities member Mark Welch, who also publishes Adbility’s Web Publishers’ Advertising Guide.

After protesting to Yahoo!-GeoCities, Welch was contacted by a Yahoo! attorney who said the changes were not significant since the previous contract allowed GeoCities to use homesteader content for promotional purposes. The new contract gives Yahoo!-GeoCities the right to use the content however it wishes without giving the developer credit.

Consumer and privacy advocates have criticized the new rules, saying many will agree to the provisions without having a clear understanding of their implications.

However, GeoCities isn’t the only Web community that reserves the right to use member content however it wishes. Tripod, owned by Web portal Lycos Inc. also requires users to sign a royalty-free, unrestricted license to use or modify member content.

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