AIM Terms of Service, Part 2

It seems that the massive amount of attention to the recent changes in the AIM terms of service have hit hard at AOL. Evidently “America Online Inc. plans to make three small but significant modifications to the terms of service for its AIM instant messaging product” due to all the recent attention. AOL is planning on making a few changes to “Content You Post” section “and will explicitly exclude user-to-user chat sessions from the privacy rights an AIM user gives up to AOL.”

“We’re not making any policy changes. We’re making some linguistic changes to clarify certain things and explain it a little better to our users,” AOL spokesperson Andrew Weinstein told

The modifications will use similar language from the AIM privacy policy to “make it clear that AOL does not read private user-to-user communications,” Weinstein said.

“We’ll be adding that to the beginning of the section to make it clear that the privacy rights discussed in that section only refer to content posted to public areas of the AIM service.”

More importantly, Weinstein said a blunt and inelegant line that reads “You waive any right to privacy” will be deleted altogether.

“That’s a phrase that should not have been in that section in the first place. It clearly caused confusion, with good reason,” Weinstein conceded.

In the end it seems that the “mis-wording” of the terms of service caused enough commotion to be changed. As of this post the “Content You Post” section of the terms of service has been re-written to:

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.

Now although I am happy to know that AOL is not reading my private messages I write or receive to other people, I still think it is pretty crappy that could potentially make money off of something someone else did without there expressed permission. Oh well, life goes on.

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