Copyright Implications of Yahoo Buying Tumblr

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These companies don’t just know a great deal about you, they have a license to use your creations and, as the Yahoo!/Tumblr deal shows, they can transfer that license or sublicense it as they see fit. This is a tremendous amount of control and it should make users nervous. Though none of these companies do anything too unscrupulous yet.

via Plagiarism Today.

There Are 10 Comments On This Article.

  1. A. Noninoni

    I think it’s pretty obvious from Marissa Mayer’s comments that a love of photography wasn’t the driving force behind the Tumblr acquisition. This is about data, not content.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not in favor of rights grabs in any form, but I think we spend too much time worrying about big companies stealing our images and not enough time worrying about how much information about us they gather while we use their products and how that information is being used.

    No question, there have been some egregious misappropriations of copyrighted content. But in the overall scheme of things, the incidences of those misappropriations have been relatively minor (I know, easy to say unless it’s your images being ripped off). While I have significant doubts about Yahoo’s overall strategy (or lack thereof), I really doubt their sinister plan is to offer free storage for billions of crappy cat photos just so they can swipe a handful of decent images and use them for commercial gain. The purchase price and maintenance of the disk drives necessary to offer everyone a free terabyte makes that kind of dynamite fishing insanely unprofitable.

    Yahoo isn’t after your images, they’re after you. All the data they can glean from your participation in their online properties can be analyzed and sold. You can’t realistically opt out of the Web. Participation is part of doing business. The broader question is how do you participate while minimizing the amount of data you leave behind.

    • Richard Skoonberg

      What a clear and concise commentary about the web and big data. Thanks for posting.

  2. I agree with A. Noninoni!… Moreover, just think of this last one; faces recognition. Tons of images? Families, friends, parties, relatives, colleagues… Who knows who, what when where… The day these informations fall into bad & nasty hands, we’ll consider 1984 a gentle and soft dream.
    How can we escape? Can we escape (and still live in our time)?

    • A. Noninoni

      Certainly getting off the grid is an effective option. But for most of us it’s not practical. The Internet is part of the world we live in and complete privacy is no longer something we can expect. I think the only defense is to be aware, not paranoid. Think about the information you give away. Think about the things you do online.

  3. First off, thank you very much for the inclusion. It means a lot.

    To quickly respond to those who are saying, I think correctly, that the purchase was more about data than content and the risk of direct relicensing of images is low, I largely agree.

    The purchase of Tumblr was about 3 things: Users, Data and Content

    Yahoo! wanted users, in particular younger ones and wanted data on them so they could advertise and market to them. They also wanted content so they could get more visitors and turn them into users and the circle of life becomes whole.

    Content brings users, users leave data. While data may be the end game from Yahoo!’s perspective, they aren’t going to get any without people and there will be no people without content.

    It’s all part of the same machine in my view.

    • A. Noninoni

      Data becomes stale very quickly. If Yahoo does to Tumblr what it did to Flickr (i.e. put it on the shelf to stagnate) that billion dollar investment will be largely worthless in about 18 months. What I found disappointing was Mayer didn’t appear to be able to articulate any coherent vision of how the Tumblr acquisition fit into a broader plan. If Yahoo’s intent is just let Tumblr continue as a quasi-independent venture, the cool people (users and employees) are going to drift away.

      • A big difference with tumblr is that the users themselves refresh it’s interface. Flickr relied on the developers to do that and that is one big reason it stagnated. Tumblr is a very simple service in the backend, the users do all the work.

        I don’t think yahoo will put ads on tumblr. Instead, it’s a data input service. Users fill it with data about themselves. This data is then used in output services like content delivery. Rumor has it, for example, that Yahoo is considering a bid to buy Hulu.

        So the data you input on Tumblr influences the ads you’ll see on Hulu, which is just one of many possible data funnels throughout their properties.

        “if you’re not paying for the product you are the product”

  4. I think Yahoo bought Tumblr to be relevant with the young, hip demo. The editors of the fashion, photography and other popular tags are “tumblr famous” bloggers that have some pretty amazing clout. It’s not uncommon to see photos that have been showcased by the tag editors get hundreds of thousands of re-blogs.

    Yahoo may have paid a billion dollars but tumblr is pretty much on auto pilot with all the changes and direction of the site being dictated by young, hip bloggers who have huge followings and set trends. Essentially Yahoo just hired many of the most influential bloggers in the world to run their site for free.