Who owns photos when uploaded to Facebook

facebook-and-photo-copyright.pngThere is discussion currently going on regarding who owns photos uploaded to Facebook.
One would assume that the user who uploaded the photos to Facebook would retain all rights associated with the photographs but the Facebook Terms of Use suggest otherwise.
A relevant quote from the Facebook Terms of Use:

By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose, commercial, advertising, or otherwise, on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content, and to grant and authorize sub licenses of the foregoing.

Maybe Facebook is simply protecting itself to be able to display the users images in all kinds of ways but I think the terms are way too restrictive.
However other photo sharing services on the Internet get by with much less assertion over the users content.
If you are worried about this issue and would like to share photos with your friends on Facebook without giving them away to Facebook then the best way is to store the photos somewhere else and use various methods to make them available in Facebook.
You have several options depending on where and how your photos are hosted.
If you have your photos on Flickr, the MyFlickr application is very handy. It shows a selection of your photos on your profile page and when you update your photos on Flickr it posts updates to your news feed so that your friends are notified about it.
One can argue that Flickr (soon to possibly be owned my Microsoft 🙁 ) is another 3rd party that will hold your photos but their TOS are much less restrictive and they support Creative Commons license which is a great way to spread your photos while retaining some rights
Gallery2 is a popular software to host your photos on your own server. The Gallery2 Embed is a Facebook application that embeds a selection of your photos in your profile. If a visitor clicks on the photo, she is then taken to your own website with your photos.
One thing missing with “Gallery2 Embed” is that it doesn’t publish updates in your newsfeed when you upload photos so your friends are not made aware of any updates. I have grand plans to write my own Gallery2 Facebook application that will support updates in your newsfeed but lack of time is very prominent at the moment.
Some other popular photo hosting sites and the Facebook apps for them:
Picasa: Picasa Gallery Slideshows
.Mac: .Mac Web Gallery
DeviantArt: My deviantART
Photobucket: Photo Wall
SmugMug: My Photos from SmugMug
Good luck and make sure to remain the copyright holder of YOUR photos!

April Fool’s Day 2008

Google launches Project Virgle together with Virgin.

Project Virgle, the first permanent human colony on Mars.

All featured videos on YouTubeUK and YouTube Australia lead to Rick Astley-Never Gonna Give You Up. You have been RICKROLLED!
TechCrunch is acquiring the venerable teen magazine and Web site Tiger Beat, will rename it CrunchKids.
Venture capitalists fight back against a website (TheFunded.com) that allows anonymous ratings of VCs by creating their own review site called TheUnFunded.com.
The Pirate Bay is moving their operations to the desert of Sinai in Egypt due to the new copyright legislation in the European Union.
A pre-air episode 9 of the TV show Lost. The episode is leaked from a DVD screener.

Virgin Media takes fight to illegal downloaders

Virgin Media will cooperate with the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) in a pilot to track down users downloading illegally:

“The BPI has teams of technicians to trace illegal music downloading to individual accounts. It will hand these account numbers over to Virgin Media, which will match them to names and addresses.”

You might think that there will be an exodus of users from Virgin Media to other ISPs and that this will hurt Virgin Media but I doubt that.
You see, there are many ISPs in the UK that are offering an “unlimited” service for an ever decreasing monthly fee.
Users that use P2P often use the most of the ISP’s bandwidth so this pact with BPI is a great excuse for Virgin Media to dump those costly users.
In addition if they manage to switch the downloads from public internet to a Usenet server inside their network they avoid most bandwidth charges and capacity problems.
It’s a win/win for Virgin Media (and lose/lose for their customers)!

True instant push email on your mobile phone using Gmail

mobile email pushToday I thought that I would check out the state of SMTP and IMAP services of my favourite email service provider Gmail.
I wanted to use Gmail on my mobile phone and I was pleasantly surprised.
Because Gmail supports the IMAP standard, items that are read and or deleted on the mobile phone are correctly marked as read/deleted on the Gmail account as well.
This is very convenient if you are accessing your Gmail account from more than one client (mobile phone, browser, Outlook, Thunderbird and similar).
Gmail also provides an SMTP server which is used to send emails from your client and it will appear to the recipient as if the email was sent directly from Gmail.
All sent and received emails are further encrypted (SSL) which is something that local ISPs often neglect to provide.
The best feature however is that the Gmail IMAP server supports “push” email which together with a mobile phone that supports this feature gives an optimal email experience.
Blackberry users are used to this optimal experience but they (or their companies) are paying dearly to RIM or their mobile operator to have his luxury. With Gmail the service is free (standard data transfer charges apply of course).
Typically I get notified 10-20 seconds after the email has been sent. In fact the mobile phone is notified earlier than the Gmail Notifier running on my PC.
This is much more convenient than the old fashioned way of polling the server every 15 minutes to see whether any emails had arrived during the last 15 minutes.
Now how to set it all up? Enter the following settings on your phone. Every phone is different so I cannot give you step-by-step instructions but leave a comment if something is not working and I will try and help you.

Email address: Your full Gmail email address including @gmail.com
Connection Type: IMAP4
Incoming server: imap.gmail.com
User name: Your full Gmail email address including @gmail.com
Password: Your password
Outgoing server: smtp.gmail.com
Check interval: Off
Push email: On
Encryption incoming server: SSL
Encryption outgoing server: SSL
Outgoing username: Your full Gmail email address including @gmail.com
Outgoing password: Your password
Incoming port: 993
Outgoing port: 465

Bear in mind the whether or not push email will work for you is dependant on what kind of phone you are using, what mobile network you are on and how you connect to GPRS.
Your phone must support encrypted (SSL) IMAP4 and push email to start with. If you want to send email from your mobile it has to further support authenticated and encrypted (SSL) SMTP.
Your mobile network should not block any ports and I suspect your mobile device has to have an IP assigned to it; being behind NAT may not work.
Likewise you should use a GPRS connection which is connected directly to the Internet and not a “wap” GPRS connection.
I was successful in getting Gmail push email working on my SonyEricsson K800i on the UK Vodafone network using the GPRS APN “Internet”.
I would be very curious to hear whether any Apple iPhone or Windows Mobile smartphone users are able to use the Gmail push email!
Photo credit: soldierant

Paypal is not a bank but has a phone number

Once you hand money over to Paypal you have very little control over it. This also applies if you let PayPal accept money on your behalf.
Their terms and conditions more or less make you wave your credit card protections and consumer rights.
I have made over 40 paypal transactions over the last 6 years. I have been reading various paypal horror stories but I always thought it wouldn’t happen to me (don’t we all).
Well of course it did and it is just a matter of time until you lose money as well if you are using PayPal for any transactions; especially related to eBay auctions.
In my particular case I had paid for an item that I had won in an eBay auction and PayPal charged my credit card instantly.
The seller had some complications getting the money so he informed me that he was not interested any more and that I should be getting my money back in 30 days.
This leaves me with a lot of money out of my pocket and a product I will never receive.
The only condolence PayPal was able to give me was to assure me that the money would be back in 30 days… but that’s no condolence to me, that is theft.
My story is just a drop in the ocean of other horror stories related to PayPal.
Credit to my credit card company as they treated me like a customer and put a little pressure on PayPal to look at my case a second time but in the end nothing could be done.
From the conversations with the credit card company representatives, it seemed as if they deal with many, many PayPal disputes and the score so far is individuals 0, PayPal a lot.
If you want to talk to a human being at PayPal UK then avoid the expensive 08707307191 premium number and instead use 02086053000.
Press 1 for PayPal, skip the request for your registered phone number, press 5, press 2 and tell the customer service representative that David says hi.
At least there are some alternatives to PayPal and you should consider them while you still can:
Google checkout
Photo credit: Scott Beale / Laughing Squid

Export your facebook contacts with email addresses

facebook officesFirst of all a big apology because this method of exporting your Facebook contacts is very cumbersome and has several “odd” requirements.
Nonetheless it is presented here as one (desperate) option to export your Facebook contacts and their contact details such as email address and phone number.
This method can be improved upon and made more automatic but Facebook has a tendency to shut down any scripts and software that export contact details.
So instead I leave it as an exercise to the readers to automate this process and extend it with a possible vCard conversion or Outlook import.
You will need:
* Firefox browser
* The XHTML mobile profile add-on for Firefox
* Able to view option 4 (ie Contacts) when accessing Facebook mobile
* Be able to access the internet from your PC by using your mobile device (eg via Bluetooth or IR)
* A text formatting tool (eg. grep)
The option 4 (Contacts) is ideal for exporting your contact details as it lists email addresses and phone numbers as clear text.
On the web version of Facebook the email addresses are displayed as images and a optical character recognition (OCR) process has to be used to decode the email address.
This OCR process is never perfect and will sometimes result in incorrect contact details.
The idea presented here is that you connect your PC to the Internet via your mobile phone (bluetooth, serial, IR or whatever works for you).
You have installed the XHTML mobile profile in Firefox which will let you visit the mobile version of Facebook (m.facebook.com).
Because you are using your mobile operator, Facebook will assume you are on a mobile device and display the shy option 4, contacts.
Step through your contacts and save each page as a text file locally on your computer.
Last step is to combine the saved text files to a single file and use egrep secret sauce to create a neat comma separated (CSV) file with just names, email addresses and phone numbers.
One regular expression that may get you started would be:
/profile\.php([^>]*)>([^<]*)<\/a><br\/>(<small><a href=\"tel:)?([0-9\.]*)?(\">)?([0-9\.]*)?(<\/a><\/small><br\/>)?<small><a href=\"mailto:([^\"]*)/
The best way to automate the exporting of Facebook contacts would be to write a small application for a mobile device (eg in J2ME) that fetches the information and formats it for export.
Another option would be to use Cygwin tools such as curl and grep to automate the process on your PC.
The j2me application would be most fun to do and I may return to it one fine Sunday afternoon!
[Photo by pshab]

Flickr to fuel your photography passion

I joined Flickr a while back but never got into using the site.
To me the site offered just storage of my photographs but I wanted to have full control of my precious possessions and so preferred hosting them on my own (gallery).
What I had completely missed out on was the social networking features of Flickr. The rating, comments, inspiration, groups, continuous learning and new friends who too are passionate about photography.
Last week while visiting Flickr to browse a few friends updated photos, a Flickr group caught my eye.
It was called “DeleteMe” which seemed to be the opposite of what anyone would want to do with their photos.
Turns out that the Deleteme group is focused on brutally honest opinions.
Members submit their absolute best photographs and fellow group members rate them; saveme or deleteme.
When the photograph has collected 10 deletemes, it is removed from the pool. Should the photo on a rare occasion gather 10 savemes, it is regarded as a masterpiece and is then moved to the safe where it will shine in all eternity.
The general common comments on Flickr are “wow” and “great shot”. People want to build friendships and not offend and so often hold back on what they truly think of a photo.
Your mum and special other will always tell you that a photograph of yours is fantastci but wouldn’t you rather be challanged and really find out how good it is?
The Deleteme group is a refreshing in that it’s members are honest. Sometimes they can be outright nasty but nobody holds it against them.
If you want to get some honest, high quality constructive comments you should give the group a go. A warning though; if you can’t stand the heat, better stay out of the Flickr Deleteme group!
141191332_9d96466d84_t.jpg 228026791_de6a73a234_t.jpg 236731828_baba78a198_t.jpg 241972255_a2580fed40_t.jpg
Photo credit: davebluedevil, laurence_grayson, Shek Graham, laurence_grayson

Piracy is just a business model

…said the Disney Co-Chair Anne Sweeney at the Mipcom festival.
I find this quite a refreshing statement compared to the standard RIAA/MIAA stance. They keep insisting on theft, crime, punishment and so on which only seems to create more piracy and distance the customers.
Maybe a better approach would be to compete with piracy in quality, availability and price.
Let’s have a look at what that might look like.
Pirated content is often using the latest video and audio compression. This results in a 90 minute movie in DVD quality being below 800MB, often with 5.1 channels audio and optional subtitles.
With TV shows, the pirated content can often be in high definition if the source was HDTV as well.
It will be hard for a legitimate service to compete in terms of quality. The target should be to at least match the quality of pirated content.
The biggest issue for legitimate content providers will be how to apply copy protection without reducing the quality of the content.
The current digital rights management (DRM) solutions are very restrictive and result in the user renting content instead of purchasing and owning (see an anlysis of Amazon Unboxed).
I for one would accept an invisible/discreet and user specific watermarking but I can not accept DRM solutions where I cannot use the content on any device I choose or where the content can become unusable after a certain amount of time or if the original provider, God forbid, goes out of business.
TV shows are available as pirated content a few hours after their first official broadcast. DVDs are available as pirated content just a day after their official release.
This is especially valuable to potential customers from regions where the broadcast or DVD release is delayed by up to a year due to region restrictions.
Legitimate content could become superior to a pirated version by being available at the same time as the broadcast/DVD release or even better, a symbolical amount earlier.
Having one single reliable and secure location (shop) to get legitimate content is a great advantage instead of searching various more or less obscure areas of the Internet.
Here pirated content clearly has an advantage by being for free which is a difficult price level to compete with.
A few online services have however shown that users are willing to pay for content if the other criteria above are met.
Paying the same amount (or more) as for the physical version of the content just doesn’t make sense to the end user.
Especially since the digital version is often crippled by various digital rights managements solutions decreasing the perceived quality and thus value.
The controversial MP3 online store AllOfMp3 has a very low price point ($0.20/song, $2/album) and while their prices may be unrealistic for other service it should be noted that user are willing to pay!
Summarising the options above one must admit that at the moment it looks a bit bleak for legitimate digital content.

Increase your bittorrent download speeds

XP sp2 event id 4226With the latest “Windows critical updates” it is time to revisit the old Windows XP SP2 and Event ID 4226 issue.
With Windows SP2 Microsoft decided to cripple you network performance by limiting outgoing connections to 10 (from previous 60,000+).
You may have applied the popular LVLlord patch but make sure to check your TCPIP.SYS frequently as “Windows Critical Updates” have a tendency to restore/replace your TCPIP.SYS to the crippled one.
TorrentFreak has a good write up that touches many other speed optimising topics.

FootieFox – Follow World Cup scores at work

footieFox.jpgWant to follow the 2006 Football World Cup in style? Then check out the FireFox extension called FootieFox.
The extension let’s you select your favourite teams and discreetly display scores from games in the FireFox tray.
When a team scores a box slides across the bottom of your screen to make sure you don’t miss it.
FootieFox is a great tool to be able to follow the World Cup and still being able to produce code (aka working).
They even provide a dynamic score board to display on your personal site or blog: