[Hpr] Fwd: Cross-Promotional Opportunties

Ivan Privaci epicanis+hpr at dogphilosophy.net
Thu Feb 12 12:43:10 PST 2015

On Thursday, February 12, 2015 01:20:49 PM Carl D Hamann wrote:
>[...]I'm far
> from labeling them as "evil"; in fact, the fact that they are offering
> free-as-in-beer content puts them a step closer to the right track [...]

They also appear to be having their participants encouraged to contribute 
their own materials and run courses, from what I can tell, which seems
like another step in the right direction.

(It could ALSO be a cynical attempt to get people to do their work for them 
for free, too, though...)

> I did read through their [Terms of Service][1],
> and they make it quite clear that content belongs to them, and that
> you, your content, your status, etc. can be summarily deleted from the
> site without cause.
> [1]: http://www.cybrary.it/terms-service/

I caught that too, though it also looks a lot like "boilerplate" language that 
could also apply even if the site was entirely creative-commons licensed.
For example:

"Intellectual Property: The Site and its original content, features and 
functionality are owned by Cybrary IT and are protected by international 
copyright, trademark, patent, trade secret and other intellectual property or 
proprietary rights laws."

I don't really see where this site has any "trade secrets" or "patents", and I 
have no idea what they mean by "other intellectual property or proprietary 
rights laws" other than "and, like, anything else I'm forgetting". To me, it 
looks like a generic CYA "we aren't giving up our rights or anything" clause 
that might be applied even to entirely CC licensed sites.

"Proper Use and Spam: If the Site determines that an account is being used for 
any purpose other than online IT and Cyber Security learning, the Site 
reserves the right to disable or delete the account without notice."

similarly seems to be canned "no, you can't sue us if we shut you off for 
trolling or spending all of your time here trying to get people to buy 
something from you" clause rather than unreasonable overreach.

I don't really like either of those clauses, nor the "limited license" and 
"changes to this agreement" clauses, but those too look like standard
canned clauses that appear all over the place rather than something the site's 
operators consciously intend to make use of, necessarily.

I think you're completely right about this initial contact being a low-effort
mass-mailled promotional project for them. I'm just wondering if it'd be worth
contacting them back to see if they're salvageable, so to speak. They seem 
new, so it's still early enough that they might take some guideance on being 
really free-and-open.

(Heck, if they just want a "we'll mention Hacker Public Radio somewhere
on our site once for every episode that mentions us somewhere" informal 
arrangement, we've already got potential episode material right here on the 
subjects of MOOCs, methods of self-promotion on the internet, and the ethical 
values of Hacker Public Radio which could all mention "cybrary.it" and their 
marketing email as a relevant example, even if we decide they're awful...)

I'd definitely be reluctant to jump into any sort of formal arrangement 
without more information from them, though.

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