Feedback's ownership loopBy http://profile.typepad.com/1237764140s22740 // September 28, 2012 in Property Rights, Social Media, Terms of Service
Go here to see the actual thread in which Blake framed the problem and the discussion that ensued. Here's how you might express the issue in the form of a question: how can App.net, with a straight face, ask independent developers for feedback, while at the same time insisting that App.net own any such feedback?
Any service provider with ambitions to become a platform will of course relish feedback, especially when that user is an accomplished outside developer who understands how the service works, technically, and who puts effort and imagination into fusing new applications onto the service.
That service provider will naturally covet the unrestricted ability to make use of feedback.
App.net took a wrong turn by publishing an overreaching covenant about developer feedback. Here's what it says, or said, in a version dated September 26, 2012:
We love feedback. Please let us know what you think of the API, these Developer Terms and, in general, App.net. When you provide us with any feedback, comments or suggestions about the API, these Developer Terms and, in general, App.net, you irrevocably assign to us all of your right, title and interest in and to your feedback, comments and suggestions.
Blake opened an issue on GitHub for further discussion.
The right approach here is probably a license, rather than an assignment, from the developer.
Here's a suggested draft of a substitute feedback provision, using license language and already carrying the benefit of Blake's feedback:
We love feedback. Please let us know what you think of the API, these Developer Terms and, in general, App.net. When you provide us with any feedback, comments or suggestions (collectively, "Feedback") about the API, these Developer Terms and, in general, App.net, you grant to us, under any right, title or interest you may have in and to such Feedback, a non-exclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, transferable, sub-licensable, irrevocable, perpetual license to use that Feedback or to incorporate it into the API, these Developer Terms, or any of App.net's products or services.
Image: Sune Petersen / Flickr.