What am I Agreeing to Again?

Vine: Terms of Service

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As a production student, and as a member of our technologically obsessed, narcissistic society, I use the Vine app quite a bit. Sometimes I try to post clever comedy shorts and attempt stop-motion animation, but mostly I use Vine to kill time when I’m bored. Vine allows users to create 7-second videos by touching the screen to record. Vine is basically the Instagram of video, except entirely too addictive. So addictive, in fact, that it recently won an award at the Webbys. In an attempt to cure myself of my own Vine addiction, I reviewed the Terms of Service of the app to see just what I had signed up for…I also have an assignment to complete.

 

Basic Terms:

“You are responsible for your use of the Services, for any Content you post to the Services, and for any consequences thereof.”

Okay, that makes sense. Basically, if my video offends millions of people, it’s all on me. I can live with that. I also like how Vine capitalized “content.” Yes, my art is important and should be treated as a proper noun.

“You may use the Services only if you can form a binding contract with Vine and are not a person barred from receiving services under the laws of the United States or other applicable jurisdiction.”

Whoa, whoa; binding? I thought I was just downloading an app. According to Vine, I’ve just entered my first contracted deal as a videographer. Content is mine, responsibility is mine, and I’ve got a contract. I think I just became a freelancer.

“…Vine may stop (permanently or temporarily) providing the Services (or any features within the Services) to you or to users generally and may not be able to provide you with prior notice.”

So…I just signed a contract that can be revoked at any point in time for no apparent reason? This is the worst contractual agreement ever. I think I need an agent, and I’ve only been a freelancer for five minutes .

The basic terms of Vine’s site are this: you follow the rules, you post whatever you want; just don’t come crying to us if you post something stupid…oh, also we do what we want. Vine’s terms grant users responsibility of their own work, and give them the right to post however much they want as long as they have agreed to all Terms of Service. However, Vine still has the right to stop users for no reason, whenever they want. It’s like the lowest risk game of Russian Roulette: it’s unlikely that Vine will spontaneously shut down someone’s account, but they can still do it, and you’re aware of that risk. Just by reading the first paragraph of the Terms, one would think Vine has its users’ best interest in mind; Vine encourages creativity in a unique, expressive medium, and it seems as though they intend to give users the right to their own content…Oh, excuse me: “Content”.

Privacy

 

“You understand that through your use of the Services you consent to the collection and use of this information, including the transfer of this information to the United States and/or other countries for storage, processing and use by Vine.”

Hold on, what? I knew because of things like the Patriot Act and NSA’s obsession with constant, unnecessary surveillance that Big Brother was always watching; but Vine is in on the whole thing too? I’m appalled. I trusted you, Vine. Now I know you give my information to the Man, and the Man’s neighbors in other countries. What kind of privacy agreement allows the distribution of private information? I thought this section was titled “Privacy” for a reason. Our relationship is now in shambles, Vine. Shambles.

Your Rights

 

“You retain your rights to any Content you submit, post or display on or through the Services…”

Okay, sounds good—

“By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through the Services, you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods.”

What the hell? So basically, what’s mine is yours, Vine. I need a pre-nup, because I’m not sure I like what Vine is putting down. I’ve never seen more verbs in one sentence; Vine can literally do whatever they want to my content without ever asking me a damn thing.

 

 

We click “agree” on Terms of Service agreements all the time, but I doubt anyone who actually read what these things say would be okay with what applications are asking us to agree to. Sure, if someone is just using Vine to drool over accounts like Too Hunky or “lol” at FailVines, these Terms of Service may not affect him or her too much. However, for students like me who are trying to create an online persona and release content to show to future employers, Vine’s exclusive right to all my content is a bit alarming. No, I don’t think I’ll ever be crazy famous and worry about Vine stealing my content, but if I were Vine famous, I’m not sure I’d be okay with Vine’s distribution of my material without permission. Of course, if I didn’t agree to that specific term of use then my content wouldn’t be “re-vined”; but am I willing to grant all rights of my creative content just to get a few more hits?privacy

In this Information Age, we so carelessly click away our rights and privacy. We get personally offended to discover that the NSA has all our information. In actuality, we just gave it to them through downloaded apps like Vine. I’m just as guilty as everyone else; I love Vine, and I’ll continue to use it. Perhaps that speaks volumes of how comfortable our society is with a lack of privacy.

 

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