"Mixi to profit from its users' diaries?"

There has been brewing anger from bloggers and other internet users in Japan about Mixi’s announcement of its new Terms of Use, Article 18.

An English translation is as follows:

1. Users grant Mixi a no-royalty, non-exclusive rights (of replication, broadcasting, public transmission, display, distribution, translation, alteration, etc) to any content uploaded onto Mixi servers.

2. Users agree not to assert their moral rights against Mixi. [Moral rights include the right of attribution, the right to have a work published anonymously or pseudonymously, and the right to the integrity of the work.]

MixiJapan's largets SNS site Mixi

When the new terms of rule come into effect in April, it will also apply retroactively to all content uploaded onto the site, even though users had not signed up to this agreement when becoming a member. It will enable Mixi to have access to all content (diaries, photographs, community posts and even private messages) and in effect, profit from the free material.

So far, there have been a couple of users who have withdrawn from using Mixi because of these new rules. Attention is now on how other users will react, but there have already been voices of anger, with fierce criticism as well as petitions for the removal of Article 18.

Mixi have been quick in following up with a press-release to ‘clarify’ the meaning of the changes: “The change is intended to allow Mixi to change the formatting and amount of the user-supplied data when it is stored on the server, to mirror the contents of frequently-accessed diary entries onto multiple servers for load balancing, and to share such information with other users who may live in or out of Japan.”

However, by implementing these terms of use, Mixi is using its monopolistic power to take away the author’s personal rights, profit from free content and consequently, make users self-censor themselves for fear of being published without consent.

Although this new development hasn’t been taken up by the large newspapers and networks yet, a number of blogs and smaller newspapers, such as the Shibuya Keizai Shimbun, have picked up this story. As mounting concerns brew about the domination of Japan’s biggest SNS site, we can expect to see growing media backlash, and once the national newspapers and networks pick this up, the new terms will be the cause of a PR nightmare for Mixi.



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Comments

If I eat too much, I am likely to become obese. If I smoke, I risk dying of lung cancer. If I drink too much alcohol, I risk to become ill and to ruin my life. If I use SNS (social networking services) sites, I risk my online identity to be stolen (and misused) and other issues.

What have all these things in common: I can have a normal good life without doing/using them, especially without Mixi.

Many young people currently carelessly posting all sort of (embarrassing) personal things online can get caught out later in life, for example when applying for a job. Hiring employers punching a candidate's name into a search engine may retrieve more valuable information than they have hoped for – within seconds.

If it is (only) about sharing one's opinion with the rest of the world, then there are plenty of platforms and forums to do that anonymously. As I am doing it right here.

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