Live Writer forces Public Domain?

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As one of the folks behind an early desktop blogging tool I was curious about Windows Live Writer. In the process of installing it, I noticed a curious clause in the license agreement.

by posting or otherwise providing your submission, you are granting to the public free permission to: use, copy, distribute, display, publish and modify your submission, each in connection with the service; (emphasis mine)

So by simply posting to your blog with Live Writer, you’re essentially putting your blog post into the public domain. How someone would know you used Live Writer to publish a blog post, I’m not sure, but Microsoft seems to be covering themselves in the case that they wanted to use your words in their promotinal materials.

JJ Allaire
August 18, 2006 5:13 PM

Hi Adam, I am from the Windows Live Writer team and I wanted to immediately clarify regarding the license agreement. First and foremost, the license agreement does NOT have an impact on the ownership or copyright of content authored with Writer. This is not the intention, implication, or effect of the license. I want to state this as emphatically as possible so that no one need be worried about it. The confusion may be arising as a result of our product using the global Windows Live license agreement which applies to all Live products and services. As such, it covers both desktop products as well as online services which may host end user authored content. This language applies to "materials" which are submitted and then re-published by an online service (as opposed to "materials" created using a standalone tool like Writer). I am glad that you have brought this language to light because it certainly might have bothered other folks. I apologize on behalf of Microsoft for not including language more unequivocally clear, and I will work the right people here to get this fixed!

Adam D
August 18, 2006 7:44 PM

So when someone uses the Windows Live Writer to post content to a Windows Live Spaces account they loose their copyright to the content? So the content enters into the public domain and Microsoft is free to monetize it? That still does not make sense.

Blake Handler
August 18, 2006 8:26 PM

Wow that was a quick responce from Microsoft -- but it IS nice to know that they take "our" blogs seriously!

JJ Allaire
August 19, 2006 7:35 AM

I am not privy to the full rationale for this provision of the license agreement but my take would be that Microsoft is basically saying that they will host and re-publish your content on the web but won't provide additional guarantees about who else re-uses the content. You can monetize it, Microosft can monetize it, and anyone else can monetize it. It may simply be more straightforward to do this than to get into a complex web of providing selective rights to the various parties that might index, re-publish, and otherwise re-use the content. I should also qualify here that while I am very clear about these provisions not affecting content authored with Writer, my comments here about their affect on online services are just my interpretation (I'm not speaking on behalf of the online services, just giving my 2 cents on what I think the provisions mean for them).

BillSaysThis
August 19, 2006 2:36 PM

JJ, thanks for posting the comment. I'm still not sure that WLW is usable since in any dispute lawyers will go by the document language rather than an unofficial clarification. MS certainly has enough legal staff to publish an unambiguous revised license.

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