Midtveisevaluering - Milos Novovic

Milos Novovic er stipendiat ved Institutt for privatrett.

Torsdag 15. oktober 2015 presenterer han sitt doktorgradsprosjekt "Mass-scale licensing of user-generated content"

Milos Novovic

Foto: Privat

Kommentator, veileder og tekst

  Kommentator er professor Annette Kur, Max-Planck-Institut für Innovation und Wettbewerb, München      
Veileder er professor Ole-Andreas Rognstad og biveileder er professor Giuditta Cordero-Moss.

Nestleder ved Institutt for privatrett, professor Tone Sverdrup vil lede midtveisevalueringen.

Disposisjon - kontakt Milos Novovic.

Mass-scale licensing of user-generated content

Vast amounts of user-generated content (UGC) get uploaded to different online services every single minute. We send e-mails, post social media updates, sync our files to the cloud storage services – and by sharing our writing, photographs, videos and other types of content, we connect with others, express ourselves, and to a large extent, define who we are. Does this sharing have a hidden cost? A lot of research focuses on the privacy implications of uploading vast quantities of information online – but there is an intellectual property law dimension of the problem, too.

As any work of authorship, user-generated content submitted to online platforms is entitled to full copyright protection. Still, Terms of Service offered by online platforms include licensing clauses – contractual clauses by which authors assign others the right to use their works in certain manner – that are typically very broad and ambiguous. Google, is, for instance, allowed to use the content we post “for the purpose of promoting our services”. Facebook considers the license terminated once user deletes content, “unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it”. And LinkedIn asked users to give them perpetual license to, among other things, “copy, prepare derivative works of, improve, distribute, publish, remove, retain, add, process, analyze, use and commercialize, in any way now known or in the future discovered (…) without any further consent, notice and/or compensation to you or to any third parties”. The contractual language is so vague that it is unclear what kind of copyright license has been given, for which purpose, to whom it may be extended, or how long it will last. As users, we are in essence relinquishing all the control over our content once we upload it online.

My thesis shall strive to demonstrate the importance of IP licensing clauses in mass-scale digital agreements, describe the current legal framework surrounding user-generated content (UGC) licensing and point its faults, as well as propose several alternative approaches that can be utilized with the goal of shielding the interests of the users, as authors, while maintaining the core features of platform providers’ business models. It will first look into the question of whether UGC licensing clauses form binding contracts at all. Furthermore, it will show how difficult it can be to determine which laws may govern which aspects of the legal relationship between users and platform providers, and will draw attention to the tension between licensing clauses and mandatory norms of the national copyright laws. It will then illustrate the harms ensuing from giving platform providers very broad licenses, by combining intellectual property, contract and privacy law theories. It will finally propose both legislative reforms, with the goal of minimizing the uncertainty surrounding the uploading of user content, as well as other measures that could prove adequate in achieving that goal. Thesis will conclude by stressing the importance of addressing all of these questions as soon as possible. The legal effects of the extremely broad user-content licensing clauses as we know them today cannot be easily predicted, leading to vast uncertainty for both users and platform providers alike. When hundreds of thousands of gigabytes of data get uploaded online every single minute – and no one knows in which ways that data can be legally used – an urgent reform is indeed needed.


Publisert 17. sep. 2015 14:00 - Sist endret 15. sep. 2016 14:13