The Game is Afoot

Metallica. The dinosaurs of rock and roll. Or, perhaps, the dinosaurs of an era where file sharing occurred when a friend let you borrow their Cd. Metallica was outraged when the first file sharing site Napster resulted in the distribution of their material without their consent. Lawyers were brought in, accusations made, but with files so readily transferable to anyone anywhere anytime, the lines were irreparably blurred.

(Karen Eustaquio, 2010)

(Karen Eustaquio, 2010)

And so the tables were turned. But in a society where happy snaps of your “cute lunch date” with your toasted sandwich are available worldwide, we should be checking ourselves before the tables turn again.

A profile on involves anything from photos, to job or education history to elaborate retellings of significant life events. As a Couchsurfing member, until today, I too had lived in happy ignorance of section 4.3 of the ‘Member Conduct and Content’ section of the Couchsurfing Terms of Use that states “If you post Member Content to our Services, you hereby grant us a perpetual, worldwide, irrevocable, non-exclusive, royalty-free and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, display, perform, adapt, modify, create derivative works from, distribute, have distributed and promote such Member Content in any form”.

If that’s not daunting I don’t know what is.

However while the website is entitled to the entirety of my ‘cyber soul’ as a member, Section 6 of the Terms of Use agreement details a long list of all of the ways I might commit copyright infringement if I were ever to use any “Couchsurfing Materials’.



It’s time. We need to knuckle down and read the fine print. We sell our souls to sites not using an open content license. A new slogan for the billboards: Check yourself before you wreck yourself. Read the Terms of Service before they’re served.


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