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AOL UK denies being ‘copyright snatcher’

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AOL UK has been dubbed "copyright snatchers" by some of its punters after the ISP published new Conditions of Service (CoS).

Members of AOL UK's Writers' Group are up in arms that new CoS, due to be introduced from July 1, could give AOL UK the right to pinch their work.

One AOL UK punter told us: "I belong to the AOL UK Writers' Group and other writers' groups on AOL are up in arms about it. This is not even AOL offering to pay us anything but saying they will and can steal our copyright."

Another said how the new wording had caused "panic" among some AOL UK users.

So, what's got their collective literary goat? It's this excerpt from the new CoS that appears to have triggered their concerns:

"By submitting content to public areas of AOL (such as message boards and chat rooms) you represent that you have permission to do so. And in doing so, you grant AOL Group Companies a licence to use, reproduce, modify, distribute, show in public and create derivative works from that content in any form, anywhere, and waive all moral rights (namely, the right to be identified as the author, and the right to integrity, of the content) and undertake that all such moral rights have been waived in respect of the content. You also grant other users the right to use such content for personal, non-commercial purposes.

But AOL UK denies that the new CoS gives the ISP any ownership to material posted on its service.

Instead, it explained that the clause - virtually the same as one contained in the current CoS - merely gives the ISP "licence to use" the material so that people can share and discuss copyright material online.

A spokesman for AOL UK told us: "Authors remain the owner of copyright. This [new clause] does in no way transfer the ownership of copyright from authors and poets, for example, to AOL."

In response an AOL UK punter told us: "AOL have handled this badly and caused unnecessary panic to writers on AOL UK. Nothing has been explained and hosts were also in the dark and are still seeking clarification."

An AOL UK spokesman admitted the matter could have been handled better. ®

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