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AOL Changes the AIM TOS

( The new TOS ) state, in place of the old Content You Post section:

Content You Post to Public Areas

As explained in detail in the AIM Privacy Policy, AOL does not read your private online communications when you use any of the communication tools on AIM Products. If, however, you use these tools to post Content or other information to public areas on AIM Products (for example, in chat rooms or online message boards), other online users will have access to this information and Content.

You may only post Content to public areas on AIM Products that you created or which the owner of the Content has given you permission to post. You may not post or distribute Content to public areas on AIM Products that is illegal or that violates these Terms of Service. By posting or submitting Content to public areas of AIM Products, you represent and warrant that (i) you own all the rights to this Content or are authorized to use and distribute this Content to public areas of AIM Products and (ii) this Content does not and will not infringe any copyright or any other third-party right nor violate any applicable law or regulation.

You or the owner of the Content retain ownership of all right, title and interest in Content that you post to public areas of any AIM Product. However, by submitting or posting Content to public areas of AIM Products (for example, posting a message on a message board or submitting your picture for the "Rate-A-Buddy" feature), you grant AOL, its parent, affiliates, subsidiaries, assigns, agents and licensees the irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide right to reproduce, display, perform, distribute, adapt and promote this Content in any medium. Once you submit or post Content to any public area on an AIM Product, AOL does not need to give you any further right to inspect or approve uses of such Content or to compensate you for any such uses. AOL owns all right, title and interest in any compilation, collective work or other derivative work created by AOL using or incorporating Content posted to public areas of AIM Products.

AOL is still automatically granted right to use whatever material posted on the public area, and this still annoys me.  (It is the same clause that annoyed me about LJmeme and orkut's TOS.  Actually LJmeme was even worse -- it assumed not just right to use whatever you post; it assumed full ownership of such material.)  However, 1-to-1 IM chat is now exempted; this is enough at least for normal IM usage.

So the only thing we now have to be careful of is to remember not to post any private material or copyrighted work onto an AIM chat room.  This includes seemingly private chat rooms named Chat<insert random digits here>  They could fall into the public chat room category, because, from what I know, anyone can enter those rooms if he/she knows the exact name.

One thing that surprises me is that AOL took less than a few days to amend the TOS.  Compare this to Microsoft, which took almost a month to amend the botched Passport TOS.  Kudos to AOL for that.

Case closed.

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