Q1: Who Owns Your Internet Noise?

Note: The initial response, and a follow up comment from TNI, are included in at the bottom of this post. I thank them for taking the time to chime in.

I’m a fan of Traveler’s Night In, (#TNI) a well organized weekly Twitter chat that covers a variety of travel related topics. And I’m crazy for Twitter, the 140 character chat with the world interface. I recently learned that the folks that run #TNI, the ladies behind a travel web site called Zip Set Go, had compiled their favorites from the chat sessions and self-published a book — you can buy it from their web site. I’m sure it’s funny and surprising, just like my Twitter pals.

I don’t know if I’m quoted in the book or not, though I have participated in #TNI. I like to think I can hammer out a razor sharp 140 character message with the best of them, but I know for a fact I’m not the only one blessed with the ability to create a witty rejoinder. It turns out I care if one of my remarks made the book, but not because I’m looking for validation of my wit. It’s because I care about this: Who owns the stuff I write on Twitter?

The Traveler’s Night In page has a disclaimer that states the following (emphasis mine):

* By participating in Travelers’ Night In (#TNI) weekly Twitter event, you understand that your tweets or tweeted pictures may be used in an article, recap, blog or book by ZipSetGo.com and you agree to release and authorize the use of such content without compensation (except as prohibited by law).

I had never laid eyes on this disclaimer before I learned about the book. I’ve never seen a link to it during the the #TNI chat sessions — this doesn’t mean the hosts never posted a link to the disclaimer, I don’t know if they have or not, I’ve just never seen one.  I had no idea that by joining this party, I was consenting to have my contributions used for publication. See, the chat takes place on Twitter, and the disclaimer is on their site. I don’t have to log in through the Zip Set Go site to join the chat. I don’t have to visit the site to join the chat. It exists in a completely different environment than the chat. I had absolutely no idea that my contributions could be collected and resold for commercial purposes. None.

My friend Eva Holland (who’s also an editor for World Hum) contacted the #TNI crew directly. She asked if they were concerned that probably, a lot of people shared my ignorance of the #TNI disclaimer. The response she received said that it wasn’t necessary to let everyone know — content on Twitter is public according to Twitter’s Terms of Service (TOS).

I’m not sure this is correct. From Twitter’s TOS page (emphasis mine):

You retain your rights to any Content you submit, post or display on or through the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through the Services, you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed).

This license is you authorizing us to make your Tweets available to the rest of the world and to let others do the same. But what’s yours is yours – you own your content.

The additional research I did to find out if the #TNI approach was legal was…  inconclusive. Interestingly enough, ABC recently settled with a photographer who sued when they used photos he’d posted via Twitter without his permission. (Here’s the full story.) In search of an educated opinion, I contacted Susan Getgood, a specialist in ethics and disclosure. We’re still trading email as she researches the issue.

World Hum, a publication I love, runs a “Great Travel Twitter Tweets” column on a fairly regular basis — it’s a handful of 140 character travel stories culled throughout the month. I know I’ve been in that list because they’ve linked to me — but I did not receive any direct communication telling me I’d be quoted. World Hum doesn’t post photos, though — as a former blogger for World Hum, I had to check public photos to make sure they were in line with World Hum’s Creative Commons restrictions.#TNI does a series of round up posts of their favorites from the chats, those are always fun to read and they’re similar to the World Hum round up. As with the World Hum posts, I’ve never been notified in advance that I’m included on the #TNI round up.

It’s almost always flattering to be quoted and included. But something about the Traveler’s Night In book as a commercial venture is bugging me, and I can’t pin it down. Maybe I’m mad because I’m not in the book and I have sour grapes. (Again, I don’t know if I’m in the book.) Maybe, by pulling the words off the web and selling them back to me, I feel like some kind of fuzzy social contract has been broken. “Um, did you sell my stuff?” Maybe I feel taken advantage of — I had no idea that there were terms, after all, I’d never seen them during the chat — I only discovered them after the book had been mentioned on Twitter.

I love community driven efforts and the funny chatter that the web can create but I’m fairly controlling about where my work shows up. You won’t see me in a lot of popular places because I’m a terrible, terrible snob. This means I don’t get out much, not in a publishing kind of way. Also, I like to be compensated for my work, especially when it’s used for commercial purposes. In the land of fake internet currency, if I’m quoted on the World Hum or the Zip Set Go web round up, I get a link of some kind. It’s also easy, because it’s the web, to request that my work be removed should I make that choice. But if my words get locked away in a book, I get…I’m not sure what I receive in compensation. The delight of discovering I was included?

Something isn’t sitting quite right with me in this situation, and perhaps you, readers, can help me figure out if I’m just being overly territorial with my words and pictures or if there’s a genuine issue at hand here. With that in mind, I have questions, as follows:

  1. Do you participate in #TNI?
  2. Did you know that they were collecting your words and images for use in a book?
  3. Do you think this is a problem? If so, or if not, why?
  4. Have you been quoted in the online round up posts? If so, do you think this is different than being quoted in a for sale print book?
  5. Do you care what happens to the words you post to Twitter?

I welcome your thoughts. If you’d like to remain anonymous in your response, that’s okay — make up a name and leave the website field empty. Please use your real email though — it does not get shared and it will help me rescue you when I check the spam filters. Oh, and be nice. Anything that can be construed as a personal attack will not be approved.

From the Zip Set Go Team:

Thank you for allowing us to provide our viewpoint on your blog!

The #TNI book was never intended to upset anyone nor was it intended for financial gain.  As the creators of the Travelers’ Night In #TNI twitter chat, our intent has always been to bring together avid travelers and learn about the world from each other – the book was just an extension of that idea.

Similar to the weekly recaps of #TNI that have been created by several travel bloggers, the book simply summarizes the event in a fun, easy-to-read format for those who happen to miss a week or just want to relive the discussion. The difference between print vs. internet is negligible, as significant readers have forgone hard copy reading for digital blogs, articles and books and incidentally most blogs are intended for financial gain through advertising or other revenue sources.

We did not embark on this project without a great deal of short phrase copyright law and public domain research, as well as legal advice regarding our responsibilities.  In fact, we did reach out via Twitter to  those who were included and received no negative feedback – most were very excited to be a part of it.

We appreciate your feedback and that of your readers and will certainly take all this into account before producing any further editions. Thank you again for posting our response!

On this response:

I think a lot of what’s stated here is irrelevant, regardless of if I agree with it or not. With regard to the relevant points, I have questions.

  • If the book isn’t for financial gain, why isn’t it either free or to benefit a non-profit organization?
  • It’s unclear, but the statement about reaching out to those included doesn’t say when that happened. Was that before or after the book was made available for sale?

Follow up from ZSG, pulled from the comments:

The #TNI book has been removed from publication and will not be published in the future. For the record, there were only 19 copies published and 7 of which were ordered by our team. All profit will be donated to charity. As stated earlier, the intent of the book was only to further share the fun and informative chat that #TNI has become, however this discussion has removed anything “fun” about it.

Those who seem most bothered by our actions are not even in the book and seem to be fighting for a much bigger issue over intellectual capital. That being said, we hope that all who are championing this cause find solace in winning this tiny battle you have undertaken.

Update, January 14:  If you make it through all the comments, I have a sort of FAQ here in response to a few top level issues. Also, it’s come to my attention that TNI pulled the terms disclaimer from their site.

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150 thoughts on “Q1: Who Owns Your Internet Noise?

  1. Thanks for bringing this point up, Pam. I do participate in #TNI every now and again, but I did not know about the disclaimer or the fact that they were collecting my tweets for commercial purposes. I think the difference for me in regard to what World Hum does, for example, and what the #TNI book is about is the fact that my tweets (possibly … I don’t know if I’m in the book either) are being SOLD FOR A PROFIT through the book, and I’m reaping no rewards whereas on World Hum, my tweets would just be shared again with attribution but with no financial gain on World Hum’s part. The part that really irks me is the payment issue. When someone else makes money off of my words without me knowing about it, that’s a problem. I may sit #TNI out from now on.

  2. Wow. I’m stunned by this on several levels, and yet, like you, can’t quite put my finger on why.

    1.Do you participate in #TNI? Rarely.

    2.Did you know that they were collecting your words and images for use in a book? Not at all.

    3.Do you think this is a problem? If so, or if not, why? Yes, it is a problem. But they why is almost ineffable.

    4.Have you been quoted in the online round up posts? If so, do you think this is different than being quoted in a for sale print book? Yes, but not with #TNI. I’ve been quoted with a link, a mention. Being quoted in a book without permission at a bare minimum is wrong at every level.

    5.Do you care what happens to the words you post to Twitter? Yes, I care. I care because I’m trying to inspire people to travel and to think about how travel inspires.

    That said, we own our intellectual property. Quoting on Facebook, Twitter, or a Blog without linking to the source violates Creative Commons Licensing, violates trust, violates good manners. Okay, call me old fashioned. #TNI is violating common decency by not asking permission. Bare minimum, an email saying “Hey, we’re publishing a book, can we use your quote from Jan. 4th, where you said ‘some people shouldn’t leave home, let alone the country?’ We thought it was funny.”

    Pam, you need to speak up, directly to them, on Twitter. It’s a big fricking deal.

  3. i haven’t participated much on #TNI – i always seem to forget when it is, or if i am ready, our daughter comes up with an emergency. that said, now that i see this business model for the tweets, i am glad that i did NOT participate.

    i don’t mind being quoted, if i know i am being quoted. there’s something about granting permission that is really important to me.

    i also am mostly a RT’er on twitter. it isn’t a place for me to have a lot of conversations – too public (as is facebook). i am constantly aware that our words and work are out there, never to be deleted. that’s always something to keep in mind.

    UGH, pam – thanks for bringing this up. i think that each person needs to figure out their comfort level – and companies should also figure out how NOT to alienate people that love them.

  4. I’m not sure how I feel about this, but I appreciate your bringing it up. Food for thought. (I’ve only participated in #TNI a handful of times, so it’s rather moot for this specific instance, but it will get me thinking about my tweets and posts in a more general sense.)

    Thanks for the conversation, as always.

  5. I occasionally lurk, and even less occasionally participate, as the timing is always off for me.

    I think this is wrong on so many levels. You are stealing photos, and as ABC found out, that has a price tag. Anyone who has participated should be looking to see if use of their photos or tweets have been been misappropriated for commercial gain. If it has, a polite but firm claim for damages might get the publisher re-thinking this.

    I’m sure the initial thought was hey, these are funny let’s share them. But there are a few missing steps between idea and publication — like securing permissions. Let’s hope the publisher intends to do the “right thing” here.

  6. I have *hosted* #TNI and never knew this. In my opinion, as a freelancer who has to fight people scraping my content all the time, this is pretty shady. If nothing else, Zip, Set, Go should make it clear how they will use the content if they are planning to publish and make money from the proceed at the start of EACH AND EVERY #TNI.

  7. I think the Twitter TOS make it solidly clear. ” You retain your rights to any Content you submit, post or display on or through the Services… But what’s yours is yours – you own your content.”
    That means you need to ask the person creating the content before you use their content.

  8. I’ve yet to participate in #TNI, and this certainly would make me extremely hesitant to do so.

    I do participate in #blogchat … but I’m mostly posting Qs, quick opinions, and my experiences with certain aspects of blogging in general there.

    I know there is a risk in posting anything anywhere, given some of the TOS these sites have in place.

    I’ve tried to be careful about posting any substantial content in places where I think it may be re-used without my permission and/or attribution…or sold to profit someone else.

    I’ve even turned down (low) paying gigs that required me to license any photos I posted with my stories under the most unrestricted Creative Commons license (one that would allow any one else to use, edit, do whatever with my work without attribution, permission, and/or compensation). When I did that, I got a “no one else has a problem with it” response and a sort of virtual eye-roll after I’d explained my problem with their contract (which I’d bothered to read before considering signing it).

    These are some of the reasons I feel it is so important for writers, photographers, and other “content” producers to be aware of their rights and to protect those rights if they wish to retain control and benefit from their hard work. If we allow people to take advantage of us…they will, and they’ll get even more greedy and egregious about it as time goes on.

    I will participate in the (very) occasional round-up post when some one I know has asked and I know they’ll (a) give me a link and (b) not abuse the permission I’ve given them to post my material.

    I don’t do a lot of guest posting for some of the same reasons.

    There is a big difference, in my mind, between including a short quote from me with a link to my site in an online round-up and selling my words without my permission or compensation as part of a work to profit someone else.

    It seems to me that the #TNI folks should have specifically and prominently reminded folks at the beginning, and during, each online session that their words might be subject to inclusion in a work they would eventually offer for sale. That could be as simple as a quick tweet or two to that effect with links to the page with their disclaimer.

    This all may make me seem a little more reticent than others online, but it doesn’t make me crazy 😆

    Damn, woman…you do give a good rant! 🙂

    • You’re a model for what we should all be doing — carefully considering what our rights are as creators. It’s kind of boring, it’s not very glam, and if we aren’t careful, we give away the farm.

  9. I was asked to “host” TNI one week. I could neither pick the topic nor the questions, so I passed because I didn’t want to be nothing but a cut and paste machine. I didn’t understand why I was needed if everything was determined before hand.

    I also never really participate in TNI. I’m usually not around.

  10. I often participate in #TNI, and didn’t know about the book. I think a good rule of thumb for the coordinators would have been to mention the book they were compiling–and link to the rights they’re claiming–every Thursday. If they’re going to do more of this, perhaps they can consider it in the future. Kind of like a PSA to remind everyone involved–fair warning.

    I claim my work as my own. I don’t mind if others use it in roundups, with links, for free. That’s great publicity. But making $$ off my words? Without explicit permission? Uncool.

  11. The analogy here is that let’s say I have a popular web site within a niche market. On my web site is a disclaimer that anything that happens involving me anywhere on the internet is mine, and I can do anything with it that I want — (obviously an overly general claim that would not hold under any kind of copyright issue, albeit similar to #TNI’s implication). So I post something on somebody else’s web site which receives a ton of fascinating comments. I collect those up because I think they’re interesting and publish them in a book – with no regard for that web site’s copyright notice or TOS. And I sit in my office when the complaints come in and say that I have a TOS and copyright notice on my web site, so you’re screwed.

    I’m sorry, but this is a violation of U.S. copyright law, has nothing to do with Fair Use, and is just blatant arrogance. In fact, Twitter specifically states that tweets are not public domain (as implied by its TOS).

    I think you’ll find in your research that this is not a grey area. I deal with similar issues in higher ed all the time.

  12. We’ve participated in #TNI several times, happily and willingly. We never really thought nor knew that our tweets would be appropriated. We know that they’ve compiled recipe contributions to sell for charity. But was never made aware of a book forthcoming. Pity if this is true. We’d still participate though. It’s fun.

  13. I participate. Its fun. Like meeting other travelers. And really have no problem at all if people collect my tweets and publish them for money. There are things that bother me in the world of publishing, but this certainly isn’t one of them. They came up with a great idea and are profiting by it — and nothing preventing anyone else from assembling TNI tweets they like and putting them in a book form in my book either. Or collecting the Justin Beiber quotes they like and doing an eBook. Not sure where I see 140 character tweets any content that I am that concerned about keeping total control over. You putting them out on a public forum — don’t use Twitter if you don’t want people using your “content.”

    • Sometimes, Michael, I think you’re contrarian for the fun of it. I get that.

      Your use of the term “public forum” is interesting. Is this blog a public forum? I don’t know that answer to that, and I think I should.

      Would you care if someone grabbed a photo you’d posted a link to and published that for money?

      • you have prompted me to actually wade into this pool and write a post about these topics — Twitter and writing for free for things like the HuffPost (which I do as well). Hmmmmm… might need to run it by you first.

        And not contrarian on this topic at all. It bothers me not one bit. I spend perhaps 3 seconds coming up with the content of my tweets. And then put it out there for pretty much anyone in the universe to read. I expect that things will get RT’d to the rest of the world. I expect people with parse my Tweets and reuse them as part of their Tweets. I don’t care. I spend no time or effort on that “content” and could give a shit if someone comes up with a good plan to make money off them. More power to them.

        One thing that bothers me in these general topics (writing for free and such) is that I think some folks are missing the core issue. The old method of making money in writing — that being to write content for someone that pays you — is dying and almost dead. Its like talking to steel workers in the MIdwest lamenting their all their jobs are gone, because the factories closed down. Yea — they did. So figure out how to compete in the new world order.

        Ten years ago, hell five years ago, all of us were almost completely dependent on other people to make money. Now, we are our own distribution sources. You can make money…. without the middle man. I simply think too many folks are concentrating on a world gone by. Its gone. And the new world is a hell of a lot easier for more people to get in with good ideas and make money.

        • I meant contrarian to the stated viewpoint, not contradictory, you stick to your own message, I admire that.

          I’m not actually tackling the writing for free issue here, that’s a separate can of worms. I’m concerned about the implication that I’ve consented to the sale of my words or other materials by my participation in TNI. The separation of the disclaimer from the context of the chat troubles me.

          • understood and we’ve swapped some private messages, but for public content…. they do disclose. They regularly pimp the upcoming TNI chats with “come to TNI this Thursday at 4:30 via this link _________” and the link has the sponsors there, the disclaimer, the Tweetdeck link and everything else. I know from our private exchange you haven’t seen it, but I can assure you they pimp the heck out of the whole thing and the link to that page is always part of it.

            but it does make me chuckle a bit that people seem upset that someone it making a bit of money off this “content.” Like any of us put any time or thought or effort into our Tweets. “I spent 4 hours composing that 140 character reply!!” 😉

          • You raise another point there, Michael. You spend 5 seconds on a slap-dash response tween and now it is immortalized, without your permission, in a book. For individual branding purposes, that can also be a concern.

            You say the model is changing. I agree. But that’s why it is even more important for people to be upfront and ethical about how they use their content. You say a tweet is no big deal. What about a short blog post on your own site? Some may say that’s fine. Where do you draw the line?

            If you don’t mind sharing your Tweets, that’s fine. But wouldn’t you agree that others should have the option to opt in or out before they are included in a book?

          • Total difference between putting something on Twitter and a short blog post. I view Twitter as basically public. Put it up with the full expectation that someone is going to use it. Posts on my blog are….posts on my blog. I have not put them out for anyone to use at will.

        • >>”Like any of us put any time or thought or effort into our Tweets.”

          Well….actually, yes, many folk seem to.

          Firstly we don’t spend 3 seconds coming up with our tweets. We spend however long it took us to learn how to learn to speak English ( / other).

          Even if we spend 3 seconds finalising them, if they’re pithy and wise and memorable, we’ve crafted them in advance in a myriad of non-fingers-to-keyboard ways. And if it’s superficial throwaway content, why the book? Why does Twitter have a Top Tweets page? Some of these tweets shine and get RTd and RTd because a bit of thought went into them.

          That surely means they’re worth something. And that means those words deserve at the very least an appropriate level of respect – even if we decide to give them away for free.

          In this case, it’s sidestepping existing polite, well-established mechanisms for giving credit where credit is due, and then making some money from it. That doesn’t feel very respectful.

  14. I have participated, I did not know about the book, and I find the whole thing rubs me the wrong way as well. I don’t mind people publishing my tweets as part of a round up on a website that provides free content to its users but I do mind someone making money off my tweets. I mind it alot. Thank you Pam for bringing this to our attention!

  15. As always, Pam, you’re monitoring a pulse that counts. I’ve participated in #TNI a couple of times. I’ve hosted once. I certainly don’t believe that they have the right to publish anyone’s content without permission and/or compensation. It’s incredibly presumptuous.

  16. I just started participating so I’m likely not in the book but I am a bit bothered by it.

    If I had been contacted because they wanted my words I probably would consent but not to my photos.

    Although web sites also make money from this kind of content a link back would be all I wanted.

    I’ve been quoted for online round-ups but always asked permission first. I don’t know without consent it seems shady especially when I think most people would agree for the exposure if asked.

  17. Honestly, honestly, this doesn’t bother me that much.

    I do think I’d heard about the book (e-book?). I don’t care if my photos/tweets are/were used. They are 140 characters – not prose I spent a ton of time crafting. Nothing I could ever “sell.”

    Same w/ my photos that I Twitpic.

    Not something I can get up in arms about (and you know, Pam, there are topics I *am* bothered by a lot!). I am not a die-hard #TNI’er, but I think it’s fun, and will continue to drop in as time allows.

  18. Yes, I’ve done a few TNIs. They are fun, although with so many people now adays gets to be more chaotic and less fun.

    I kind of sort of remember seeing something about a book, but nothing clicked about being possibly quoted in it.

    Yeah, it seems to be a problem. I equate it to the real world someone just talking to people on the street and quoting them in a book. Oddly, I have less issue if no names are used at all. I don’t mind SO much being quoted if it can’t be attributed to me if I don’t know about it. If I am quoted with a handle, then I want to know about it. And have the option to say no.

    Yes, I’ve been quoted in a few roundups. I tend to be quite happy with that. As there is a link to my account and I have gotten some good readers through my witty repartee.

    Do I care? Yes and no. Most of what I do is chat with people and retweet links to articles. At that level, the use of the words is too “generic” to care that much. I have put a few of my original quotes up and I think I would care if they were taken and attributed to others.

    I don’t do much TNI lately (as said, too chaotic). But it does seem to be crossing a line to organize a hash tag event in Twitter and attach conditions in a completely separate place to a Twitter event. Can I create a #YouOweMeADollar hashtag and write somewhere else that anyone using that hashtag owes me a dollar? Or does this open up things like the #lp hashtag to allowing Lonely Planet to reprint (not just retweet) content?

    Will be interested to see how this develops.

  19. I’ve done #TNI often, been featured, hosted, and been a big supporter from the beginning. I’ve even done a three part interview with April and written other posts about #TNI. I haven’t been able to participate lately but I’ve been a big champion of what they are doing. They’ve created a travel community and I think it was unique and it’s been fun. And quite honestly, many of us have benefited from TNI because we get to know so many other travelers in the process (i.e. gain new followers, find new people to follow). So it has been very beneficial to us as well.

    In this case, I completely understand the argument you are making for our legal rights to our content. However, I tend to side with Michael on this and want to raise a couple of questions.

    1. Are #TNI recaps a violation as well? I know AdventurousKate used to do these after TNI. Would this violate our rights as well? After all, she puts this on her blog and her blog makes money so she is making money off of us correct?

    2. If the book is published, wouldn’t this actually help you gain followers and possibly interesting your blog/writings? Your Twitter name would be used so there is potential that you could benefit as well and not just ZipSetGo exploiting you for a profit.

    3. Would you be OK with this if at the end of the book, every person whose tweet was used had their Twitter name listed as well as whatever links you have on your Twitter account? Would this be better?

    For me, I don’t care. If you want to use my Tweets, then do so. I don’t really think that tweets are all that valuable profit wise so if you wanted to do the same thing, you could. I understand there are things worth fighting over and I don’t think this is one of them for me. In the end, I think we benefit as well. If I am fighting for a right just to fight for a right, then I would need to decide if it was worth it and pick and choose my battles. If I actually had an idea to use my Tweets to make a profit as well, then yes I would fight this.

    Just my two cents.

    • Your statement about the benefits of #TNI is totally true, and again, let me say, as I do right at the top, that I’ve been a big fan of the initiative. It does good, fun things with social media. I’m for that.

      Your comment really helps me think through some of the ideas I’m grappling with. Before I get to specifics, let me say that I don’t know the answer to the legal/copyright questions, that’s what I’m asking.

      Let me see if I can respond to your questions.

      1. I don’t know if the recaps are a violation as well. I know that they don’t bother me because they aren’t in a “for additional profit” venue and typically, they include some kind of attribution link love.

      2. Maybe book sales would bring me readers, maybe not. Unlike on the web, there’s no way to track that unless my readers tell me so. Dead tree vs. online ROI, right?

      3. The book includes the Twitter names. A directory of participants would be nice, sure, but better? To have been asked beforehand.

      Further processing — with the help of excellent input like yours — has helped me refine, some, what’s bothering me. It’s the implied consent. If the #TNI crew had just said, up front, in chat sessions “We’re compiling for a book that we’re planning to sell and we’d love to feature you! Is that kosher?” all this would be totally moot.

      I really like Dominique’s statement, which I’ll quote here, though I recommend you read her full comment.

      “There is a big difference, in my mind, between including a short quote from me with a link to my site in an online round-up and selling my words without my permission or compensation as part of a work to profit someone else.”

      I agree with her.

    • I think it’s interesting that you mention the poor quality of the images in the book. As a photographer, I’d be annoyed to see my stuff reproduced in poor quality, just like I’m annoyed when an editor changes my intent or meaning in the editorial process — I feel like that misrepresents my work.

      That’s an aside from the permissions issue.

  20. Sorry, TNI ladies. I think you stumbled here. I have hosted, formulated questions, and sourced prizes for TNI, and I was never asked if my questions (or possible tweets, or possible imagery) could be used in a for-profit book.

    The difference between print and the Internet is NOT negligible. That’s a shameful statement for the TNI organizers to make. As proof, look to all the guidebook writers who are struggling to find good-paying print work.

    When WorldHum, or Gadling, or whomever points to a Tweet, there’s a trail I can follow to learn more, so I may follow that particular voice. That voice belongs to that individual. When the voice is captured in a book, that connection is lost. It becomes the voice of the book, despite any potential attribution. As for CC licensed work, if you look at the TOS for CC, you’ll see that in addition to attribution, a link must be provided back to the source. Obviously, you can’t link from a print book. In lieu of a link, it is courteous to ask to use the content. Perhaps they asked everyone cited in the book … but I know I have not been asked anything.

    If they donated all proceeds to PwP, then I might be less disappointed.

  21. You know what? This DOES bug me. I’ve thought of TNI as a chill way to virtually hang with other travel buffs, now I feel like we’ve all been used.

    1. Shouldn’t Twitter’s TOS supercede these Zip Set Go’s? Yes, I think it should.
    2. If they were smart and don’t want their peers to distrust them from now on, they should get signed permission from every person they quote. or else – Zip! Set! There Goes your trustworthiness.

  22. Interesting as this has also come about as several hosts have silently refrained from participating due to the fact that profit was made from sponsorships of #TNI … using the host’s twitter follower count as a traffic/viewership indicator.

    Was that illegal? No. Was it ethical? Definitely not.

    I don’t think these practices are a good way to foster relationships … and that is really what Twitter is all about.

  23. I used to participate in TNI, and welcomed being mentioned in Adventurous Kate’s wrap-ups. My natural tendency is to agree with most of the comments here, and to point out that the shortness of the tweet form does not preclude real artistry and content. My heart’s not in the argument, though. I no longer have any real feeling that I own my Facebook posts, and that’s whittled down my expectations for Twitter too. I doubt I’m in the book, but if I am, and my tweet is properly credited to me, I wouldn’t feel that I’ve lost something of value. Where do you draw the line, though? A book that recorded Stephen Fry’s tweets would be entertaining (and worth doing, given Twitter’s tendency to misplace vast chunks of tweets), but completely heinous.

  24. [Nope, Pam, I take it back — you should delete my comment. Your post is interesting and focused, and doesn’t need me wandering off in the weeds with my overall-expectations-of-Twitter-ownership musings.]

  25. I think what bothers me most is the cavalier attitude that seems to go with being an “internet publisher”. Hey, it’s out there for everyone to see, so we can use it wihtout permission & quite possibly profit by it.

    And by profit, I don’t even mean money–I mean the anxillary things that go along with publishing anything.

    This goes beyond the travel area, this attitude is rampant in the food blogger area as well.

    I spent 35 years in publishing. I have had my own work published in other media. I speak with some experiential authority when I say, the action and the response by ZipSetGo are just plain BS.

    So what if the legality of all of this is questionable, but morally, come on. It doesn’t matter how long it take me to compose a tweet or Haiku, it’s wrong for anyone to assume that it’s OK to use either without telling you.

    And forgive me, but really, come on! There are that many people on those TNI chats that they could not have SAID OUT LOUD that they need to have an email address to send an announcement about this, and given all an opt out.

    I think this subject is not gonna die a young death–it is a topic that needs discussion, and we as creative people need to self regulate without rancor.

  26. BootsnAll has co-hosted several TNIs, and I participate fairly regularly – and I’d never seen this disclaimer or heard about the book.

    I’ve been quoted in the round-ups before, which I believe have links back to individual Twitter profiles, and I don’t have a problem with that at all.

    Frankly, although I have no idea whether I’m in the book, it wouldn’t bother me if something I wrote during TNI was used. My Twitter profile isn’t private, so I can’t expect what I write there to never be used or quoted in any way.

    What I DO have a problem with, however, is that the TNI gals say they’ll use PHOTOS without needing to contact anyone and get additional permission. Somehow, THAT is the sticking point. That’s the part that doesn’t sit well with me.

    • The photo issue is particularly sticky, but I have been thinking, why do we devalue our words so much? Andrew Evans has done amazing things with Twitter for Nat Geo, beautiful things, if Nat Geo sees the value in what’s produced on Twitter with words, why can’t we?

      • I don’t think it’s about devaluing words so much as if I’m putting words out there on a site that isn’t mine (which Twitter, sadly, isn’t) then they’re kind of out there & public & I can’t control how they’re used.

        If I’m linking to something I wrote – or a photo I took – that’s different to me.

      • So many valid points so far, great read… but I finally had to chime in (I suspect I shall again now that the ice is broken) But I agree, why can’t we see the artistry, creativity in a tweet. Why do we judge one type of art of another.
        stay adventurous, Craig

  27. We started doing the recaps after AdventureousKate left for her trip….
    And we always ask permission for photos either during tni or after, always link to your twitter if we use your tweet and always inform you if you were included in the recap. I’m glad to read that most of you are okay with the recaps, because we had never heard negative talk about them before.

    Like it has been said many times, I think what the TNI girls did was incredible in creating a “group community meeting” and connecting so many people. Even though I don’t always love the topic, I usually find at least one new person to follow.

    When I heard about the book, I thought the idea was interesting but I didn’t know how they would go about the process- and I had never seen the disclaimer. Maybe if they had posted the disclaimer once or twice throughout #TNI then people would be less up in arms about it and of course, should have asked (if only to have people on board with the idea) about using people’s pictures. I think if they would have taken that small step, more people would be excited about it and might even consider buying the book (“like, oh, cool- I was published”).

    I guess you have to make a definite decision about what is right for you and participate if you want or don’t.

    • I agree that you should get to decide if participation is right for you. In the chat or in the book. The terms under which the book was published doesn’t seem to give you that choice, though, and that’s my objection. It assumes consent through participation.

  28. I’ve had a few more thoughts on this that I want to share. Let me state this up front – I am neutral on this issue and have nothing against anyone here or ZipSetGo. These are just my opinions.

    1. The book – think about it from their perspective. If you had the idea for TNI, created a travel community, and have seen your idea take off, wouldn’t you want to grow this as much as possible, including a book, profits, or investors? TNI is also looking to be a TB show as well. I don’t think what they are doing is any less than what any of us are doing. My honest opinion is that they are being creative rather than intentionally trying to stomp on your rights.

    2. Your tweets – Let’s be honest here. Your tweets are all over the internet. They are public. Any Joe Blow could go out there, use your Tweet, give you no credit for it, and make money off of what you say. I am not saying this is right but I am saying this is a huge issue because many of you know about it.

    3. TNI is a mutually beneficial relationship. You get to meet and connect with other travelers, share tips and stories, gain and get new followers, and gain a bigger audience for what you do in the process. As a result of TNI, have any of you profited monetarily from the relationships/tweets on there?

    4. Your legal rights here are a valid argument. I don’t deny that. I actually agree that using pictures should definitely require permission. My personal opinion – it’s a bit petty to fight over a right just because you can. If it was a post or writing, I would be upset. However, tweets are already public, I am not looking to make a profit off of them, and I think the book can be mutually beneficial. In short, is this really worth fighting about – your legal right to your tweet that you probably never even care about before now because of a travel community that you are part of?

    Pick and choose your battles. Work with ZipSetGo to make this book mutually beneficial. Maybe they can post links to your blog in the book as well as your Twitter name. Realize that this is fun and they are just trying to be as creative as possible to push an idea and a community they have enjoyed creating. To me, arguing over a legal right to a tweet is a bit petty when this is about community and helping each other.

    • The problem with not asserting a right is that by doing so you may be losing it. It then becomes a slippery slope from a tweet to a post to a photo, etc. Legal rights (copyright) need to be asserted to be protected much the same way trademarks are. Protect or lose.

    • Your arguments don’t quite make sense to me.

      1. It’s creative business. Totally. And? That doesn’t make it legal or ethical by default. Pyramid schemes and bank robbery and con jobs are creative business models too. The business motivation isn’t relevant, the methods are.

      2. It’s public domain. Is it? Twitter’s own TOS quoted above tells me my words are my content.

      3. No argument on TNIs mutual benefits. I think TNI on the web is GREAT. It’s fun, it’s a smart use of Twitter, folks have got fabulous prizes. Right on. But also, not relevant.

      4. As for picking battles… this example sets a precedent that I’m not comfortable with. 140 characters aren’t worth fighting over. Okay. Is a photograph? How about 200 characters? Three photographs? 400 words? At what point does it stop being petty and become an issue worth discussing?

      I’m asking for definition of what my rights are, exactly and trying to understand the implication of the actions the TNI crew have taken in a digital world. That’s not petty, that’s exploration of online media and digital rights.

    • 1. I am saying relax and take a friendly approach to this to resolve the issue rather than be combative and make TNI/ZipSetGo an enemy. Work with them. It seems like you miss the point – I am just saying that they were trying to be creative and probably did this unintentionally. Yet people are taking a tone like they want to get in a fight when the other person didn’t realize they hurt your feelings.

      2. Twitter’s TOS can be whatever they are. What I stated is still true. Anyone could take your tweets without giving you credit and you would never know. Are you going to spend all your time tracking down instances where someone use your tweets w/o permission just because it is your legal right? Heck, people could steal your posts. I am just saying TOS are only as good as your willingness to seek out those who violate them. Is this instance worth a battle?

      3. It is relevant. The book could benefit you as well. Some people are treating this as a complete exploitation without realizing they could benefit as well. Understanding this could change your attitude in HOW you deal with this – more cooperative and less combative.

      4. I already answered this question. Again, my opinion. Photographs and your personal writings are worth fighting over. My tweets are not. Again, pick your battles. Why is it so important to protect your legal right to tweets? If you’re doing it just because you can, seems a bit much to me. Save your battles for big things like your photos and posts. I think the combative tone, rather than a cooperative one, is a bit too much given that TNI is a “friend” and not your enemy. Work on this from that perspective rather than being so petty and combative. I never said you didn’t have a right. I think people just need to handle this with the right perspective.

      Again, the legal argument is legit. How upset people are getting it is a bit petty. Work with ZipSetGo, realize that this is a community and is fun, and don’t take an issue like a tweet so seriously in the grand scheme of what is really important. Gaining perspective is important on how you deal with this. If it’s your right, go for it. I don’t care either way. Just realize this should be friendly, it probably wasn’t intentional, you can appreciate the desire to promote their idea, and you can work together rather than getting so upset and combative about this.

      • I don’t see this comment thread as combative in the least. As is usual for this site, it’s in-depth and open to all, including ZipSetGo who have already weighed in.

        This is a discussion, not a fight. Surely?

        • I agree with Mike. This post and it’s ensuing comment thread have been nothing but diplomatic and polite. At no point has Pam (or anyone else for that matter) labeled the ZipSetGo team as the enemy or spoken ill of them purely for the sake of posturing. The arguments that people have made on both sides have been cordial even when they have been powerful.

          Furthermore, Pam has worked with them by contacting them directly, allowing them to share this forum with their response and, in essence, providing them to with user feedback on a very important topic. Her post was not an attack. As Mike said, this is a discussion, not a fight. Neither disagreement nor debate imply inappropriate behavior.

          There a too many people in this travelsphere who view people who speak their minds as petty, inconsiderate or unprofessional. Civil discourse is none of those things and this post and its comments are fantastic examples of civil discourse.

  29. I’ve been a co-host from the beginning and participated to most of #TNI sessions. I loved #TNI and also saw a benefit for my site. So I even scheduled my weekly plans around it.

    Then I had the feeling they would charge sponsors a good amount per session. I’ve had a talk about this with them already and even if I’m not telling how much it is, as the amount isn’t the same all the time, they got some good cash in between.

    That’s why I stopped co-hosting it. I think all the people attending it and all the co-host together made it that popular.

    But I must also say that I had a good talk with them and hope that they will find a more social way. I’m looking forward to it and would love to be a co-host then again, as I really liked #TNI.

    #TNI gets advertised to sponsors with how many tweet impressions they have. Who delivers these? Pretty much the co-host with sending out the questions & all the people attending #tni.

    I just found out that some people sell tweets for $1,20 (& much more depending on the influence) per 1000 followers. I wouldn’t go for that, but there you can see how much one single tweet is worth for advertisers. I could get $50,- & more per tweet! Crazy! I still don’t go for it, but it shows who is part of the success… everyone who joins and tweets.

    That’s where I get to the ebook. If I get asked and have a choice, that’s fine. They can make me an offer & it’s up to me to accept or decline it. The offer could be money or a link back… whatever, but it’s up to me! But I think I should get informed, especially when it gets commercialized. If it’s social and/or non-profit, I agree: Don’t tweet!

    Is it enough to have the TNI terms somewhere on another site. I’m not sure, but people should get at least informed where to find and read them.

    The whole social media boom is still quite young and developing. This discussion is just part of it and will hopefully bring it forward positively.

  30. I cohost almost every week and didn’t know about the book until it was for sale, but like Michael I’m not overly bothered by it. I do tend to side with Melvin though on many of his comments.

    I don’t participate in #TNI to be a cut and paste machine, I participate and cohost because I really enjoy the banter and conversation. I’m not sure why, but it makes for a great afternoon activity and I always “meet” new people.

    These are new waters and I think everyone is feeling their way through them. Would I have preferred a very upfront disclaimer policy? Yeah, probably, but I’m not going to lose a lot of sleep over it.

  31. I appreciate Melvin bringing a different perspective to me about what is going on that I was not aware of. We will have to see what happens. Could this book idea destroy TNI?

    • I don’t think so. It might change the way in which TNI is conducted and the process for creating the next book, if they decide to do that.

      But I’d be surprised to find it changes anything, honestly.

      • I am not asking if TNI will change. I am just wondering if people will be less likely to participate now that there seems to be a little animosity towards what is going on. I’m just asking the questions, not suggesting anything at all! I like TNI!

  32. I’ve participated and always had a great time with #TNI, meeting new people and the witty/fun comments always made me smile. 🙂

    When #TNI started:
    Did I know my tweets or even pictures could be used or a book? No.
    Did I know that the organizers of the event were making money from it? No.
    I just wanted to have fun with fellow travelers.
    All this information is a lot to digest but I do appreciate that it is being addressed by both sides….

  33. Wow difficult to think of a way they could have handled this worse. I’ve only ever participated once or twice, but that aside, if they’d actually bothered to ask people, then all this wouldn’t gave happened. Agree their disclaimer is bs as you don’t have to agree to their terms to use twitter rather you agree to twitter’s terms. Not for profit? Ok give it away, but even then it’s nice to ask first. Very poor behavior and big hat tip to Pam for posting on this.

  34. No effing way. Get your mitts off of my content, photos OR text, digital OR print.

    SERIOUSLY? Selling my words back to me? How much of a sucker do you think I am?

    Those who “don’t care” – that’s great for you. I do pay attention to how and what I tweet. Someday when someone does swipe or misuse something you care about, you’ll get motivated.

    The rules about who owns what have not changed as much as casual Internet thieves would like us to think.

  35. As a regular #TNI participant and one who has shown up in the roundups on a number of occasions, yes, I certainly am worried about this. Why anyone would think it is OK to use another person’s words to make money without asking them is beyond me. Most other points have already been made, but I do want to mention one thing about the terms.

    When I first found #TNI, I thought, ‘Great! Sounds like fun.’ and I went off looking for who runs it so that I could find out what the next time and topic were going to be. I found it fairly confusing for the first couple of weeks as to who’s gig it was. Was it the host that everyone thanked at the end? Was it the Zip, Set, Go people? I decided that the Zip,Set,Go girls were just keen participants the host changed weekly and it was just a Twitter phenomena. After a couple of weeks, I realised that was wrong and figured it out. But, my point is that when you approach #TNI from Twitter the first time, you really have no idea how it works let alone that there are terms on someone’s website about participating. (Maybe this is all more clear now and I’m not suggesting they were trying to be vague. I’m just talking about my experience)You just get swept up in the excitement and go with it.

    Sadly, I think I’ll bow out for a while to see what happens.

    • That’s an interesting point. Being a co-host for many times, I got contacted and thanked for starting/running TNI, which I haven’t. So for many it’s not clear what is really going on.

      That’s why I think it’s critical to use peoples tweets without informing them, especially if you try to sell them. Would it be different if the ebook would be for free? I guess so, as Twitter is for free as well and everybody can read your tweets anyway.

      How do you inform all the TNI users? Hard one! Would it be enough to send a direct link from the hosts & co-hosts to the terms before the event?

  36. I don’t know how I feel about it either, but I definitely didn’t know about the disclaimer, maybe that could be the first thing they tweet at the beginning of each session so everyone is aware new and old?
    My only question is, if it’s not for financial gain then why not just have it as a free e-book?

  37. Nice debate – a few thoughts from me.

    I’ve only participated in TNI a couple of times, and never on purpose. It was always just a response to tweets I saw from other people I follow. But almost inexplicably, one of my few tweets on the topic made it into the book.

    When I got a tweet that I was featured, it was surprising. My concern is that I have no idea which of my words they’ve even published. Buying it to find the answer to that question wasn’t something I was willing to do.

    I’m not going to debate the legalities, but it’s a **** move. It’s Twitter – they have contacts for each tweet posted, so it may have been time consuming to contact each person and request permission, but it was the right thing to do.

    Would I have said yes? Of course I would. It’s always nice to see my words reach a broader audience. If I were making a living off of them, I might feel differently and be more protective.

    Asking permission is just the right thing to do and gains you fans instead of resentment. Quick example – I have a feature on my blog called Brain Drops. Someone wanted to know if they could use the concept and create a similar feature on his.

    Of course! I’m not that protective of what I post on the web, but it was wonderful that the person asked me if it was okay. He didn’t have to, but was trying to be courteous.

    That person? Contrarian Michael Hodson. 😉

    And now you know… the rest of the story.

    (wait, does Paul Harvey have a blog?)

    Editors note: Deleted the profanity. No personal objections, but trying hard to keep a ultra civil tone in these comments. Thanks for understanding.

  38. 1. Do you participate in #TNI? No
    2. Did you know that they were collecting your words and images for use in a book? Nope
    3. Do you think this is a problem? If so, or if not, why? Yes. A blatant disregard on so many levels.
    4. Have you been quoted in the online round up posts? If so, do you think this is different than being quoted in a for sale print book? No difference at all. Yes I have, there is no difference.
    5. Do you care what happens to the words you post to Twitter? Yes, that’s why I use twitter.

    If Pam had not tweeted me the other day I would not have seen this. I placed her name on a private list and now see what she wants to tell the world.

    This is the beauty of a platform like twitter.

    Moreover I use it because twitters copyright is one of the better one’s on the “social scene” Unlike Facebook(sorry I dig at them all the time)

    Zip Set Go seem to have abused this, and/or taken advantage of this, legally. But this will not be my point.

    Zip Set Go “In fact, we did reach out via Twitter to those who were included and received no negative feedback”

    This is not the same as getting permission. Not for legal reasons, but just out of respect.

    Zip Set Go ” By participating in Travelers’ Night In (#TNI) weekly Twitter event, you understand that your tweets or tweeted pictures may be used in an article, recap, blog or book by ZipSetGo.com and you agree to release and authorize the use of such content without compensation (except as prohibited by law).”

    Erm, do you send that out to everyone who uses the Hashtag #TNI on twitter?

    Perhaps you should, eh?

    http://www.zipsetgo.com/travelers-night-events is the main page for all this. I see like many others “It’s FREE and great a way to meet other travelers like you; exploring the world, and tweeting about it.”

    You might want to add that tiny text at the bottom to this statement …

    I also note that Zip Set Go have Trade Marked Travelers Night In.

    So, Zip Set Go you might like to change the public hashtag #TNI to #TNI-tm just for those who have not been made aware that you are taking content and profiting from it.

    My point in all this is customer relations. Zip Set Go are a for profit company. Your public relations department just screwed up on this one when it could easily have been avoided.

    Zip Set Go “… incidentally most blogs are intended for financial gain through advertising or other revenue sources”

    Okay I was actually going to let Zip Set Go off the handle a little until I read that ***** ****. Bet you’re glad you said “most”.

    I’ve never participated in TNI mainly due to travel, timezones, and or a good book to read, ironic eh.

    I do, however, understand why people use it. Good for them. Shame the Zip Set Go team went about this the wrong way, and obviously to a third party (me) did not put much thought into simple measures that could have stopped this blowing up in your face.

    Right, I am now off to find all the #MJisdead tweets and see if I can make some money from my blog 🙂 Or just sell my twitter lists as I am sure someone somewhere is doing.

    Editor’s note: Nixing stuff that’s borderline profanity. I actually like a little profanity in my editorial, but I’m trying to be very mindful of the tone of this conversation. Thanks for understanding.

    • I’m not sure that the TNI crew made a legal violation and I haven’t accused them of doing so. I just want to be really clear about that. Some folks in the comments say it’s clearly not okay; I’m not a lawyer.

      I was troubled by the “most blogs” comment as well. It’s a broad generalization and I doubt its accuracy. But I also don’t want to get bogged down in that point, because it’s not related to the issue at hand — whether gathering the tweets and publishing them in a for-sale book is a legal and ethical use of the material generated in the TNI chat.

      I agree that sending out those terms to everyone that uses the TNI hashtag would have been a good thing to do. I’d have seen them, I’m sure, as I’ve used that tag myself. I also agree that “reaching out” after the fact is not the same as getting permission. I have a pal that often uses the statement “It is easier to ask forgiveness than permission” but in publishing, while it might be easier, I don’t think it’s right.

  39. You raise an excellent point. I’ve participated in #TNI and have never heard of the disclaimer until now. I recall tweeting a few photos during #TNI and I ewould be uncomfortable if they were used in a book. I’m not as bothered by my comments… Publications frequently quote from Twitter for articles, and I have used Twitter as a news source for breaking stories. To your point, including tweets in a commercial book is a different matter. (Kind of like the old books with photos of wacky products for sale on eBay. Did they have to get the rights to those photos?)

  40. I have jumped into tni from time to time and enjoyed it for the most part as a way to “meet” new travel people on twitter and kill 90 minutes on a Thursday afternoon.

    However when I saw one day the Zip, Set, Go ladies published a book of tweets, I was stunned that they were profiting off of other people’s words without their permission.

    Also thought to myself, who on earth would buy a book of tweets?

    I think the great Sheila Scarborough said it best when it comes to using people’s work without permission when she said, “No effing way. Get your mitts off of my content, photos OR text, digital OR print.”

  41. Pam, thanks for a thoughtful, well-written post on a tricky issue.

    A bit of a background: I always loved #TNI, think it’s a great concept, got plenty of my non-travel buds to join in, and even spent time with ZipSetGo’s April and Rachel when they came to Boston.

    Also, I was the original recapper of #TNI. I did it on a lark for fun and got such a great response (not to mention traffic) that I did them weekly until I left for my jaunt through Southeast Asia. People would always be notified of their inclusion and I always linked to their Twitter profiles. Nobody asked me to remove their tweets, but I would have if they had asked.

    Also, I *have* had a tweet of mine used for financial gain — in Travel + Leisure. I responded to one of their questions, and a few weeks later, they emailed me and asked for permission to use it in an upcoming issue. Obviously, I knew that my tweet would be used for them to make money — that was very clear. I agreed and they published it.


    I didn’t know anything about tweets being collected for a book until long after it was a go. Considering how much I participated in #TNI, I think that ZipSetGo needed to publicize this information more. Adding it to the bottom of the official web page may work as a way of covering the legal bases, but come on…they could have done better. It’s that simple.


    What if someone decided to pull a Regina George and publish a book called The Idiocy of Adventurous Kate and publish a for-profit collection of my tweets and tweeted photos? They’re in the public domain, yes, but according to Twitter, technically I own them. Do you really think nobody would take action against that?

    And also, how is the book not for profit if they’re charging for it? That’s what I’d like to know…

    • I think nobody really cares about the ebook itself, it’s more about the actions. Like you said, a tweet of yours was used to make money, but you were asked. It’s up to you to decide.

      The problem is, that the TNI girls had a great idea to make a great travel twitter community even nicer.

      Who owns a community? Twitter is dealing really in a free way with it and even their sponsoring is really easy going, different to other sites.

      Is it OK that TNI got paid by sponsors? When a community gets sponsored, who gave the success to the event? Is it ZipSetGo with a great idea or the people taking part in it? Is it the Twitter team or is it the people using Twitter?

  42. I don’t participate in TNI. I have never really found the time where I am at a computer long enough during that time of the day. I have used the hashtag once or twice to talk about TNI.

    1. As someone who has a family full of lawyers and knows a bit about copyright law, I can tell you there legal disclaimer would not hold up in court. It’s not accessible to users. Disclaimers have to be visible to “reasonable person” Even if it is in the corner, it’s ok. Since it is not on twitter or accessible to be seen, it wouldn’t hold up in court. Any day. If they got written permission from the people to use the tweets, then they are legally ok. But if someone wanted to, they could probably sue them…and win.

    2. I found out they were making money off TNI and decided to never use it. You are making money off other people’s work without their knowledge or consent. How many people know they make money off TNI? Probably less than a handful. I bet a lot of people would not be ok with it.

    3. Hearing about this book makes me glad I never used TNI. I like what world hum does with their round up. It’s funny and gives people exposure. Plus, it is free. If this book is just to have a funny record of TNI, then it should be free.

  43. Though I have not participated in the TNI sessions (only just discovered it), this sounds like a slightly different form of crowdsourcing (new buzzword in the branding world, following the Gap logo debacle)…essentially, an easy way out of paying for the work of others. In this case, an easy way to gather content for a book.

    While ZipSetGo’s intentions may have been good, at the end of the day it is still wrong to publish someone else’s “content” without their knowing or permission, especially where any money is involved (for profit or not). How is this any different than someone’s blog post being stolen and published elsewhere without credit/permission?

  44. Tricky point, it can happen very often in the Internet. You make a good observation that their disclaimer lies in another platform while the chats were on Twitter. The participants were not supposed to visit the website, and Twitter’s terms and conditions are quite different. If this is legal, it’s probably quite borderline.

  45. 1. I do participate in #TNI

    2. I was not aware that they were collecting photos and texts of ours to use in a book.

    3. I think it is a problem only because I was not aware of the disclaimer. The #TNI discussions take place OFF of their Website…I use the interface that they create to use, others may simply use Twitter and the hashtag to participate or some may use TweetDeck…all of which are not on the Website where the disclaimer is located.

    4. I have been quote in the round-up and the round-ups others have create and I do think this is different than being quoted in a for sale print book. They can link or use our twitter names. Books do not contain links.

    5. I am concerned NOW about my words on Twitter.

  46. The #TNI book has been removed from publication and will not be published in the future. For the record, there were only 19 copies published and 7 of which were ordered by our team. All profit will be donated to charity. As stated earlier, the intent of the book was only to further share the fun and informative chat that #TNI has become, however this discussion has removed anything “fun” about it.

    Those who seem most bothered by our actions are not even in the book and seem to be fighting for a much bigger issue over intellectual capital. That being said, we hope that all who are championing this cause find solace in winning this tiny battle you have undertaken.

    • I think the bigger issue is that TNI is a community but you treat it like your property.

      TNI is nothing without the people that participate. If everyone decided to stop participating and create their own little weekly game, you got nothing.

      You don’t own a community.

    • Not a fan of the petulant half-apology.

      “tiny battle”?

      If you had your intellectual property being unknowingly used for profit, would you not be concerned with that, as well as the precedent?

      I love the whole numerical thing, too.

      If it was wrong, it doesn’t matter if it was 1 book or a million.

      The intent, for most of us, is to seek greater exposure and with that, hopefully some monetary gain. We all have friends outside of Twitter. It’s ridiculous to pretend that we’re only doing this stuff for the kindness in our hearts and the community aspect.

      If people are fighting who *aren’t* in the book, that makes their arguments *more* viable, because what they have to gain is simply attacking an unjust issue, as opposed to worried about their own stuff.

      Was the profit going to charity before? Doesn’t seem like it.

      I wasn’t particularly anti-ZipSetGo before this, but I’m beginning to wonder.

    • “All profit will be donated to charity”

      Yea, sounds very much like a modern day politician after getting caught making extra curricula money.

      As I stated earlier, your above words are not endearing in a PR sense. More to the fact they speak of hurt feelings, and the feeling of personal attacks against you. I wonder how the TNI (insert trademark) community feels?

      Get it?

      Probably not. Hopefully you do.

    • Girls, I know that this is a tough discussion for you. But I know that nobody is against TNI or you directly, as everybody enjoyed it. It would be nice to keep it going and enjoy it in future.

      It’s also not about the ebook itself, as I guess not many would pay for it. It’s more about the terms & fairness. That is a tough one, as the whole social media spectacle is still so new. But with this discussion we form the future ways… at least a bit.

      Taking profit out of a community is a tough task! Who owns it? Who makes it special? Who brings the success to Twitter? Is it the Twitter team or the people using it? Who brings the success to TNI? You girls with a great idea or the people attending it?

      It’s a mix of both, I would say. One wouldn’t work without the other. I think that’s why profit of sponsoring or a profit of ebook should be used different – shared with the community. There is a reason why Twitter is so sensible trying to find a way to make profit.

      I would love to give it a different go! With You – the TNI girls and the whole community!

      TNI rocks – Period!

      Why not make it a community thing? Not of any property of one or several people?

      The worst would be to tweet “TNI-tm”. 🙂

      Let’s have a TNI which is run by the community and sponsors are welcomed, as long the community profits of it?

    • It’s presumptuous of me (what’s new?) but I kind of want to rewrite the TNI response.

      “Hey all, we didn’t realize so many people were unaware of what we were doing. We’ll make extra sure that the disclaimer makes it out several times in future TNI sessions. While we were within our legal rights (a reference here), it’s clear our participants want more information. We’ll get on that. This landscape is tricky, so thanks for helping us understand your place in it. We hope you’ll continue to participate in TNI, you’re why it’s great.”

      Or, you know, something like that. I’m really sorry that my questions — “Hey, this doesn’t seem totally kosher. Did you know about it? What do you think?” resulted in this kind of response rather than a more positive, transparent, future.

      • Pam’s rewrite would have definitely made everyone feel much better. I think everyone would have accepted the apology and continued to look forward to TNI. The actual snarky “tiny battle” apology really rubbed me the wrong way.

    • >>”Those who seem most bothered by our actions are not even in the book and seem to be fighting for a much bigger issue over intellectual capital.”

      We’re not fighting. Nobody is “fighting”. We’re not assaulting the gates of TNI waving flaming torches and pitchforks, baying for heads. We’re not even agreeing on the same things. It’s a discussion, not a lynch mob.

      I’m sad there are specific questions raising in the early stages that are still left unanswered here. That’s the whole point of Pam’s post – to provide a forum for answers to emerge. Not to lambast anyone or heap up snark, but to question in the healthy, lifeblood-of-blogging way.

      “Tiny battle” is twice incorrect.

  47. Hi Pam,

    I guess I’m kind of late to this but thanks for the thought provoking article! I used to love doing TNI back when I was working- now that I’m travelling full time the chances of me catching it are pretty much 0%, which is a shame because I always thought it was a lot of fun!

    I actually did get an email awhile back from the zip set go girls that they had made an e-book and I was included in it. Didn’t give it much though beyond “oh that’s nice,” then it sunk back into the murkiness of my inbox/mind. I didn’t realize they were selling the book for profit, but now that I do it does kind of make me raise my eyebrow.

    If it were a free ebook I don’t think I could care much, but generally speaking I don’t like the idea of anyone profiting off my words without my permission.I can understand that as a website they want to profit off of their creation- that’s business. If they’d asked I almost certainly would have said fine, but not asking, charging money and hiding behind a bit of obscure text isn’t exactly ethical.

    That being said I can’t imagine the sales on the book are really that great. I mean sure we are all witty and stuff, but why pay for it when you can tune into twitter any day of the week and catch the live show for free?

  48. My approach to Twitter is: Anything you tweet can and will be used against you. Or maybe in this case used to profit from you.

    I did not know that tweets were up for grabs as part of participating in #TNI. But I have mixed feelings. I like #TNI and I participate under @leavetheiguana to play along and meet others. My tweets made @adventourouskate ‘s roundups quite frequently and often make the @ZipSetGo and @Vagabond3Live roundups too.

    I did not object to those roundups and I thought it was part of the fun. Part of me wants to congratulate anyone who can make a profit off of anything posted on twitter. The other marvels at who the market is that buys books made from old tweets. That in itself is mind-boggling. But then again “Sh*t My Dad Says” is on the bestseller lists, so what do I know.

    I understand that my tweets are my “property”, but once I tweet them out I feel I have to let them go. It’s like I put a bunch of books in a box on the sidewalk and then someone comes along picks then up, finds a reare one and sells it on Ebay. It happens. The books were my property, but I chose to put them out. Same thing with blog posts. In the back of my mind I always know that the minute I hit publish, it’s out there for better or for worse copyright or not. ( i think I addressed this on another of your posts, but if I think I can sell something, I don’t blog it.)

    In the meantime my image is being recorded every time I step into a dressing room and could show up on the faux reality show “Look”.

    If I had been informed prior to #TNI that everything I said was up for grabs I don’t know if that would have changed my behavior. It’s only now, after the fact, that it seems worth considering. Like the example above, I put out a box of books and someone finds value in it. What should I do about it?

    I was included in the FakeTravelQuotes meme on World Hum too and I did not find it onerous. World Hum did not ask my permission, and I did not begrudge them any ad revenue that post may have generated for them. I just think that’s the way things work these days. Be it right or wrong.

    In the long term I think people should be informed about what’s at stake when they participate in a meme or other twitter games. In the short term I need to decide what I’m going to do about a slide that talks about #TNI in a presentation I’m giving at the end of the month.

  49. I usually participate in TNI, having missed probably only 3 since the first week. I’ve even been a co-host. While I knew about the book – I didn’t know that they were profiting from it (was under impression money went to a charity) PR that they profit from TNI every week using sponsors. Also, I don’t remember seeing the supposed disclaimer.

    I have to be honest, this information does upset me. As some who is a full time freelancer and who literally depends on my photography and writing to make a living … I’m unhappy that someone else is profiting from my hard work. It may not take much time to type a single tweet. BUT – overall involvement in twitter and especially TNI (1 & 1/2 hrs each week) does add up. Someone is profiting from my time and that person isn’t me? No, it doesn’t sit well w/ me. I’m thankful you’ve brought this up Pam. It’s certainly made me think.

  50. I’m getting in on this late, and will answer the original questions:

    I have participated in #TNI. It’s fun, it’s on twitter, and I like connecting in the group.

    I did not know about the disclaimer. Never saw it mentioned *anywhere*.

    I don’t mind that my #TNI tweets are quoted in a post as long as my username is linked.

    I’d be really pissed if I found out that my tweets were included in a commercial publication without specifically asking me first. If my images were included I’d be doubly pissed – and I’d point the ZipSetGo folks to my donate button.

    Will I participate in #TNI after finding this out? Probably not.

  51. I was one of the first cohosts and will continue(I HOPE)to be a frequent cohost during #TNI.

    To the best of my knowledge, the disclaimer was not always on their website, it only appeared after they began to monetize TNI with the sale of their book and sponsorship.

    To be fair to ZipSetGo, I hear the Library of Congress is compiling our tweets too.

    No, I wasnt informed prior to ZipSetGo’s publication that my tweets would be included or which tweets. The only thing that I find disheartening is the statement that the book is not intended for financial gain… well,if you are charging for the book and not donating 100% to a non profit charity, it is for financial gain! Though I have my doubts that it will be much. I doubt the rights will be sold and an Oscar nominated film will be made either, but who knows?

    I agree with Melvin and Willy, no, I don’t like ZipSetGo is now charging sponsors a substantial amount of money and not paying the hosts a penny who helped develop the following, reach and impressions which is basically what they are selling. They wouldnt have it to sell without cohost participation. To be truthful, I am surprised that sponsors pay more than a prize.

    Why do I continue to particpate and cohost? Here I agree with Matt. I enjoy the #TNI travel chat, coming together around the world sharing information,experiences and laughs. I value the friendships I have made through TNI and twitter.I wont let what I dont like keep me from what I enjoy. At the end of the day, it is only twitter, but it is too bad some of the fun has been sucked out and it has lost participants by trying to monetize it. I am sure more participants will be lost as the word spreads too. 🙁

    I dont mind being included in recaps, I usually find it a little flattering 🙂 I appreciate the link to my twitter and or website when I am quoted. -Thanks!

    However, using photos without permission prior to publication is a sticking point with me, not that anyone to my knowledge has used my photos.

    and by the way…I would like to clarify….

    TNI didnt compile a recipe book, Tasty TwEats was a TNI inspired compilation of recipes for charitable contribution to Planeterra. All donations were made directly to Planeterra. It was an inspired by a TNI travel food chat.

    @StarfishTravel and I (neither of us have any business relationship with ZipSetGo)solicited the recipes and ads from tweeps,followers and #TNI participants. Advertising donations and “sales donations” were made directly to Planeterra. No personal financial gain here. Almost $900 was donated via to help change lives around the world via http://bit.ly/ttweats for Planeterra projects worldwide.

    • The Library of Congress may be collecting tweets, but they aren’t profiting from them. Just like any library, they are collecting information to be used by the public free of charge. Totally different, in my opinion.

  52. I’m so confused – has anyone seen the book? Who is in the book? (I see it’s been “pulled from the shelves” but what shelves was it on in the first place?)

    • And really, who *bought* one of these 19 published books of tweets? I am truly flabbergasted that someone would pay money for such a compilation. Are miscellaneous travelers’ tweets *that* interesting?!

      • According to the ZSG comment above, 19 copies of the book sold, 7 to the ZSG staff.

        And Kara, I know you have a sharp, sharp brain, so I want to be clear — my primary issue is exactly as I titled the post — who owns your twitter noise? — and following on that, about the nature of proper disclosure. The methods used to compile the ZSG self-published book are a case study in those issues.

  53. I’m really weighing in on this late, but interesting comments and discussion. I’m probably one of the few freelancers that does come from a legal background (Paralegal & Claims Management for well over a decade handling civil litigation and contract law cases). I participate in TNI regularly (as often as I can) and while I never saw the disclaimer, I am sorta apathetic on the whole “book” issue.

    Some interesting points have been raised – Jeremy already mentioned what I would’ve (regarding recaps). I would tell my attorney to make the same argument if we were defending a case like this – a blog that has advertisements is deemed commercial and therefore any recap done (credited or not) ultimately has the potential to produce a profit for the site owner. From ad clicks to increased traffic ranking – there are definable and measurable monetary benefits that can be realized from TNI recaps (Please note, I have been included in recaps numerous times and have no issues – I enjoy reading them – I am just pointing out a hypothetical argument).

    Twitter’s TOS or TNI disclaimer – anyone can write anything until it is challenged in court. Now that tweets are actually being indexed into Google – does that change anything? In regards to the disclaimer – not sure when it was posted, but I am sure there’s an argument to be made that it can’t be retroactive. I would think any Tweets posted prior to the disclaimer would not apply and could not be used.

    Since online freelancers are fighting to be recognized and treated the same as print writers, making the argument that online and print mediums are different could come across as hypocritical. (Not say it is, just playing devil’s advocate).

    Photos being used without permission could be an issue. Any photo I post on Twitter is usually 600 px only and rarely edited in photoshop. The photos I use for my articles and blogs are the high mp and clean copies. I don’t post anything decent online that isn’t watermarked.

    I don’t know the exact case, but there was a discussion a year or so ago about proper citing and quotes. I believe (not 100% sure) it is 50 words can be quoted or used and cited back to the main source (hence why many online publications may allow 50 words to be used and then linked back), but if it is 50 words, an entire Tweet is less than that. I think someone could try to argue that by quoting or citing back to the Twitter user, it’s no different than citing a source for a quote in a paper. You wouldn’t write to each publication you cite in an article, would you?

    In the end, I don’t think ZipSetGo meant any harm or did this with the intent of getting rich off our Tweets. The online world is still a slippery one and it’s evolving faster than the law can keep up. (An ambiguous law was passed in CA a number of years back and it took 5 years before it made it to the appeals court for clarification). Despite what many people believe, copyright law is not black and white and it’s one of the law courses that made my head spin in school.

    Please do not think I am in favor of scraping, stealing, copying or whatever – for every 8 hours I spend writing, I spend another 4 trying to report my lifted content. I write for several publications that require 1 yr exclusive rights and of course, those are the articles stolen most often. (Doesn’t it figure).

    I’ll just end this by saying that the whole thing could’ve been handled differently – perhaps in a way that was beneficial to those who were quoted in the book. Many bloggers do guest posts for exposure versus monetary gain, so had there been a little blurb about the users since it was in print and therefore not “clickable.” I agree that asking permission first would’ve been the best route, but unfortunately, what’s done is done. The book has been removed so it’s somewhat of a moot point, but definitely an interesting post to ponder going forward. Nice job.

  54. I think Pam hits it on the nail with just a few points: We use Twitter according to THEIR TOS, not anyone else’s. No one can “own” a hashtag on Twitter.

    Now, a roundup of interesting Tweets or republishing them on your own blog is not completely out of order (and one should be able to opt-out) but the users *never* give up their copyright nor the right to compensation without explicit, written permission.

    These suppositions & interpretation of copyright are the offending matter, not that a book is being printed for profit. Ask for permission, explain compensation (or lack thereof) and allow content copyright owners to decide for themselves.

    Badly done.

  55. Wow Pam you certainly hit on popular topic 🙂 I guess I should wade in as I’m co-hosting #TNI next week and was very very excited before all this blew up. Unlike Gary I don’t feel like a cut and paste machine. I think there is a benefit to hosting and participating for everyone…depending on how pithy your tweets are.

    I have participated off and on whenever I am “in.” I am also apparently in the book. I have no problem with someone using my tweets in a book. Using my tweets however they want. I was annoyed that I was told after the book was finished. I was also annoyed that I felt I had to buy the book to find what was quoted. To be fair I never raised my concerns nor asked how I was quoted.

    Part of the reason I am not upset is because I figured no one would buy the book. I know I’m taking the easy moral judgment road out of this. My blog was recently linked to in a Japan book without my permission. I wasn’t upset with this either because the credit still is being given to me. I’m not getting paid but I still receive social credit and publicity. In print publicity might be out of favor with us bloggers but it is still nice, relevant and worth something.

    I am still going to co-host #TNI next week (unless this response gets me kicked off 🙂 and hope that the rules get changed. Either way I love the community and am willing to allow people to learn from their mistakes.

      • @Melvin, please use some of that money to stop by Kosovo and buy me a beer 🙂

        @Abi, yes I am still co-hosting. I told them I would host, I approached them and asked them if I could host, and regardless of what has happened over the past few days I gave my word and I plan to stick to it. Some people may think my “brand” is better served by pulling out.

        For me my brand is only as good as long as people trust me and my judgement. I committed to something and I will follow through with it. However, I am thinking very very hard about what this means to me. Like Ronni I was able to look past the book issue, and them earning money from #TNI.

        I am more bothered by the their response to the drama. But I still need to decide what this means for me and my blog. There is still value in #TNI, BUT I also think they should be sweating possible legal action. I would be. Morally, I moved past them not asking my permission to be in the book. Just because others suddenly have a problem doesn’t mean that I will change my stance to meet the masses. But I do think they misjudged their audience. They assumed it was the sponsors when in fact it was the community that participated. Not understanding the needs, desires and wants of your audience is a sure fire way of loosing them.

        • My biggest problem with reactions to this has been that people go with the “everyone makes mistakes” model.

          I have not seen anything that makes it clear that they feel like ZipSetGo made mistakes.

          They seem resentful of criticism and unwilling to take it seriously.

          • Hi Roni, I may be splitting hairs but I did say “[I} am willing to allow people to learn from their mistakes.” Like I said, I also did not like their reaction and it is what bothered me the most. But I have no idea what a learning from their mistakes would look like in a public forum. A blanket apology message like all the celebs?

            I clearly said I’m willing to give them time to learn from their mistakes. Not that, oh well, every makes mistakes so who cares. Time will tell I guess. But I suspect it will be personal learning and won’t make it onto the internet (at least for me to be able to judge.

            By the way, I did host last night, and I did have fun, and I did make new friends. But i won’t do it again and instead will promote the more open model with #TTT

  56. Hey Pam, is it cool with you if I take your last 12 months worth of twitter posts and compile them into a book to sell on our website? …Oh, geez, why do I even bother asking — they’re on the web so of course I have the right to do that!

    (See how freaky it would be if they just published one person’s tweets?)


    I participated in something on Twitter called “Six Word Memoirs” put on by Smith Magazine (and published by Harper Perennial) a year or two ago and it was chosen to be included in their book compilation.

    When it was chosen I received an email linking to a personalized page asking for my consent for them to have non-exclusive rights to publish my tweet. They did not pay, but provided a link from Smith Mag’s website to all who were published and a free copy of the book.

    Sure enough when the book was published, I received a copy in the mail along with a schedule of readings and was invited to read at them if available. They gave the link just like they said they would, and the book is well done.

    They took all that action/precaution/permission-asking to publish ONE of my tweets. (And the same action/precaution/permission-asking for every other single tweet they published.)

    That is a much better example of how to handle this sort of circumstance in my opinion.

  57. Pam,

    Thank you thank you for this post. I had the same sinking feeling when I heard that the TNI book had been published. And, while I have enjoyed being included in many a #TNI round-up on various sites, I’m starting to wonder…”what’s in it for me?” The way you so eloquently and succinctly explained the situation has me rethinking my participation in #TNI altogether.

    Thanks, again.

  58. Um…it would have been easy to see this as an oversight or misunderstanding until I read the ZipSetGo comments!
    In answer to the original questions:
    1) Yes – and I hosted it once.
    2) No, no idea
    3)Yes, I care. I make my living through my words and photos. This IS part of a bigger issue. ZipSetGo are influential – here’s a great opportunity for them to set the record straight about intellectual property (and educate a number of online content managers while they’re at it.) Is that their responsibility? Of course not. It would just be a good thing to come out of all of this…

    So, come on ZipSetGo! Here’s your chance to mend bridges, improve the way the internet works and emerge even stronger than before.

    People have already covered so many points here that there’s not much left to add. I don’t really understand, though, how you can trademark a hashtag. Say ZipSetGo are lying in a dark room with a migraine after all this and don’t want to do it any more…people can still use #TNI, can’t they? Or am I missing something.

  59. This makes me sad. I have participated in TNI for months because it’s fun. Not so much now. It is out of integrity to make money off someone else without letting them know. I read here that the sponsorships are costly. Why are we helping someone else make money without being informed or agreeing? The fun is our of it for me.
    And the book. You need a signed release from someone to use their work. A disclaimer is worthless. It has to be legal and to be held to one, the person issuing it needs you to at least check that you agree to terms of service.
    I would love to see someone, and I would be willing to help, start a just-for-fun travel chat with maybe some prizes as the cost of sponsorship. And it was for fun- make that fun and profit. If it’s fun offer it as free down-load or give 100% of the profit to charity as the TNI Cookbook did. The only effort for this now controversial TNI Tweet book is the editing- the book itself was written by the Tweeters.
    Glad I got this off my chest.

  60. From 2nd ZSG response above:

    “Those who seem most bothered by our actions are not even in the book….we hope that all who are championing this cause find solace in winning this tiny battle you have undertaken.”

    If that isn’t an “eff all y’all” response, I don’t know what is.

    Editor: Trimmed, Sheila, I’m sorry. First line? Critique of the response. Meets the bar. Line I cut? Mmmm, gray area. Thanks for understanding.

  61. RE: the Library of Congress: I do not mind that the Library of Congress is keeping its own database of tweets. I think they are doing it for historical purposes and I don’t have a problem with that.

  62. I’m really late to the conversation, but as a regular participant and previous host I have to join in…

    Like most people who’ve commented here, I had no idea that the ZipSetGo crew were using tweets from #TNI nights for a book which they were then profiting from without (essentially) letting those included in the book know. And like most people who’ve commented here, I definitely have a problem with it. So before I got to ZipSetGo’s comment stating that they wouldn’t be publishing it any more, I decided that if I was ever going to take part in TNI again, it would be via my website’s twitter handle, rather than my own personal one. I thought to myself if they were benefitting from my tweets in a book, I might as well benefit too and get my website’s logo and most of the url in a book for free.

    I’ve always really enjoyed #TNI, and have been regularly taking it part in it for a long time now. I love meeting new travellers on a weekly basis, and overall find it a fun way to talk about your travels for 90 minutes every Thursday night (I’m based in Ireland, 5 hours ahead of most of you guys). I’ve also hosted it a couple of times under my website’s twitter handle, have promoted my website’s blog, and was asked to sponsor it twice. I decided against sponsoring as I didn’t feel the ROI would be worth it. I don’t see any problem with them looking for sponsors though. Most people are out to make a buck at the end of the day, be it by banner ads, affiliate partnerships etc, so don’t’ see why they shouldn’t try to make money through sponsorship, unlike the book which isn’t right at all.

    By far the thing that baffles me the most about this whole affair is that the ZipSetGo crew thought that their disclaimer (which hardly anybody seems to have seen) was worth anything, taking into account that you don’t need to physically (or virtually?!) agree to it take part in TNI. I mean actually tick a box agreeing to Ts+Cs before being able to join in. I also agree with Dave from the Longest Way Home in that by pulling the book from publication and donating all proceeds to charity, they’re making themselves look guilty as hell. Like they’ve just been caught red handed doing something they shouldn’t have. Personally, I would’ve liked to have seen the book. Wish they decided to make it free rather than stop publishing it altogether.

    Will I take place in TNI again? Probably, although not tonight. Funnily enough it just started 45 minutes ago (albeit by accident), but will resume again in 25. I think the book itself was a cool idea – just selling it isn’t. Shame they didn’t decide to make it free.

  63. 1. Do you participate in #TNI? No
    2. Did you know that they were collecting your words and images for use in a book? No
    3. Do you think this is a problem? If so, or if not, why? No, see below.
    4. Have you been quoted in the online round up posts? If so, do you think this is different than being quoted in a for sale print book? No
    5. Do you care what happens to the words you post to Twitter? Yes. I’ve always in mind what I tweet will be there (somewhere) for eaternity. So I let many 3 second instances pass without a tweet.

    Now let me elaborate a bit. I have lurked at this post when there were only 20 or so comments, was distracted subsequently and was mulling over a reaction.

    1) My first reaction is. Why are you making such an issue out of this? I have a feeling on your side of the pond not asking permission to publicise is more of an insult than a prerequisite. On my side of the pond, at least the Continental side, I have a feeling it is much less of an issue. Being polite seems more important than the commercial implications.

    2) If you don’t want to be abused, don’t be on the World Wide Web. Same with uploading photos. Once I had a request for the use of one of my Vienna Cake photos (one of those, Pam, you might remember)for some inflight glossy, but had to accept Californian law in the release form, so I didn’t sign that and the photo wasn’t published.. For a Dutch newspaper I gave permission to publish with credit and they forgot the credit (which they repared after I reminder them)

    3) Now that I read their answer, I wonder why they didn’t simply produce and e-book…

    4) My concern is more the abuse for instance Google makes from scraping al sort of content from all over the WWW without getting any permission only to “enhance the search experience of you and me”…on the other hand if your government feels about it, it will weigh down on Google and make it dissappear….like the Twitter subpoena in the Wikileaks matter….

    5) Good to see you hitting a nail on the head Pam.

    • I really liked this from Melvin “Is it OK that TNI got paid by sponsors? The community who gave the success to the event? Is it ZipSetGo with a great idea or the people taking part in it? Is it the Twitter team or is it the people using Twitter?”

      All these are fundamental elements, as if it were a value chain in benefit of the community. Remove any element and the community loses. I don’t think it’s so much about the book, selling it could have been justified as covering the costs of putting it together in the first place. The book may have well been a step onwards for community building – what is the price of not having it published and going around? I believe that pulling the project off is not a wise decision. As someone who’s missed out on 99% of TNI events, buying a copy perhaps would have been a good way to participate on my own terms – as long as the book captured the essence of what the community is worth (meeting, exchanging and knowing). Scrapping content and monetizing content is decidedly tricky, and I think that the community eventually should have a bigger say as to how it gets to live on, but then again who’s running the show anyway? This discussion Pam, shouldn’t be about the book and the legal terms behind the tweets as it would equally be an error for the TNI girls to dismiss the discussion as a cause not worth being championed. Who’s show is it anyways?

  64. I actually recall seeing a tweet a while back about the book saying I was included. I responded to that tweet asking what of my tweets was included. NO response. Never heard a word before, during or after the book was published. That alone makes it a shady business if you ask me. Throw in the violation of Twitter’s TOS as well as the Creative Commons Copyright, and it becomes a bigger problem. Maybe I didn’t spend hours crafting my words, but they are still MY words.

  65. I think this all goes back to what you’ve touched on ever and over again, Pam: intellectual property rights on the Internet. It’s tricky ground, isn’t it?

    Almost a year ago, I posted a couple photos on my blog from a trip to Rwanda while I was on the road. Huffington Post pulled a couple of them and reposted without my permission. Then Refinery 29, Blackbook mag and several other websites reblogged from them. They all gave proper credit and linked back to my blog, so I didn’t really think a thing about it and let it slide.

    THEN a few days later I got an em from a friend who reads Perez Hilton’s site. He had posted my same photos without so much as asking me or giving me credit. I contacted his copyright department and told them they better either add my name or take it down entirely or they’d be hearing from my lawyer. The next day, my name was up.

    But should I have been OK with the others doing it without my consent? is the bigger question. I guess at the time I was doing it for the linkbacks, but bottom line, it was a topic these sites knew would drive traffic, they knew people would click on the headline so they WERE doing it for financial gain and I hardly even got a spike in my own Web traffic as compensation. (The only $$$ I got out of it was when the Toronto Globe + Mail contacted me to reprint the photo and paid me for the right.)

    But where do you draw the line? As a journalist of 10 years who also has a blog, I’m finding this new online landscape terribly difficult to navigate.

  66. I’m very late to the conversation but I can see why folks are bothered by the omission from ZipSetGo. As Kim Mance described there was a much more professional, ethical and courteous way to handle this.

    Even Facebook has declared with their New Profile that the content we put up is ours and we can take it down (some of it or all of it) if we want to.

    But when sites like HuffPost rely on unpaid writers, swipe copyrighted photos, and mills like Demand Media pay slave wages, the bar is lowered for all of us – on both sides.

    What I don’t approve of is not disclosing the fees paid for sponsorships. That’s a lack of transparency that the community had a right to know about. As well as any paid tweets by individual bloggers. Both may even become something the FTC may want to look into.

    Whenever money surreptitiously enters the picture, it ruins everything.

  67. I am so baffled by this. Even if everyone involved had seen the disclaimer, isn’t the disclaimer still a load of crap? Or can I just write up a disclaimer claiming rights to publish certain content posted on Twitter, and poof! Those rights would be mine because I said so?

    In that case, I hereby claim the right to publish anything posted on Twitter in my upcoming book, tentatively titled “Cool stuff I found on Twitter.” I’ll let you know when it’s for sale.

    I have never participated in TNI but I’ve been aware of its existence (but not of the people behind it) for a while now. I thought it seemed kind of interesting, and hoped to participate some day. Now? I’m pretty turned off.

  68. Pam, I found out about this 2 hours before #TNI and tweeted to say that I wouldn’t be taking part until they removed their small print. They did and I took part.
    The issue has opened a can of worms as far as I can see, as ZSG were not the only ones using third party tweets in blog posts. Then we come to another issue. These few words I post here. Are they now owned by you?

  69. 1. Do you participate in #TNI?

    2. Did you know that they were collecting your words and images for use in a book?
    kind of suspected it (words). images, did not know.

    3. Do you think this is a problem? If so, or if not, why?
    on the fence. I figure anything on Twitter (not just #tni) is public domain.

    4. Have you been quoted in the online round up posts? If so, do you think this is different than being quoted in a for sale print book?
    Yes, I believe so (round up). Yes, different.

    5. Do you care what happens to the words you post to Twitter?

    Definitely care. I consider it public domain so I think before I tweet (usually).

  70. This is wrong. It’s not even the fact that they’ve secretly collated all the tweets; but the fact that they never (to my knowledge) brought it up during the weekly #TNI event.

    “Hey guys, before we kick this off, we’re thinking of collating and publishing a book of your tweets — what do you think?”

    Wouldn’t that have been nice? People could have opted in or out.

    It reminds me of those Celebrity Sex Tapes all of my friends have seen. Where the celebs are up in arms (pun intended) about their casual hobbies being exploited. Everyone benefits, but there’s something quite cheap and nasty about it.

    If I had ever contributed (which I gladly haven’t), I would be invoicing #TNI right about now for my freelance services.

    I believe in the USA you’re governed by some FSA (?) rules whereby you have to be overtly honest about your financial dealings with regards advertising on your blogs etc.; perhaps they should add a paragraph.

    • It’s the FTC, that’s who governs this stuff. TNI claims that they did their homework on the legal part, I’m inclined to take that statement as a fact. And there are two different questions here: Was this legal? And was it right?

  71. Hey Pam– just wanted to respond to your Q2-“If you don’t want your stuff splattered all over the place, why do you put it on the web?- I feel like this is the digital equivalent of “she was asking for it.”

    I think there is a difference between acknowledging a situation and condoning it. I understand your position that content ownership should be respected. Placing content on the web is not an invitation to a free-for-all content grab. We don’t ask for it, we don’t encourage it, it’s just a fact that “looting” can happen. You don’t place content you value on Facebook because their changing policies make you wary. I think everyone needs to consider the conditions and context in which they place content on the web– “Be aware of your surroundings” is something women are told to help avoid rape too.

    • You know, Marcy, you are really smart and I appreciate the ways you have helped me think differently about the web, not just here, but in other conversations we’ve had too. I’m really thankful for that.

      I think you have a point — and I think going forward, I will probably think differently about the virtual neighborhoods where I’m posting my digital stuff. Facebook has always seemed like Kandahar to me, you gotta wear a flak jacket there. I never thought of Twitter as a bad neighborhood, and certainly not under the auspices of TNI, but it turns out there’s a little Phnom Pehn about it — I loved Phnom Pehn, but at the same time, grappled every day with the exploitation I saw.

      I’m still learning, and I’m learning some really good things from you. Thank you.

  72. Eeeewww. I can see what some other commenters mean when they say they feel ‘violated.’ It’s a strong word, but for something that’s presented as a quasi-social interaction to be sold for profit without properly warning and consulting with the people involved… it’s kind of weird. As the TNI ladies say, they may have checked out the legality, but maybe this is one of those cases where legality and morality don’t completely mesh. If you were invited to a weekly meet-up in a pub (sorry, bar) of like-minded women and your conversations were taped, transcribed and flogged, and you only found out about it afterwards, how would you feel? Possibly not thrilled. Ick.

  73. You know, and keeping in mind the non-apology posted midway through the comments above, it takes just as long to delete the terms off a webpage as it does to add a couple of lines outlining an apology to the people who made what TNI became.

    I think it says a tremendous amount about the organisers’ attitude to this whole thing that only the deletion was made.

  74. Yes, I think it should be made clear to folk providing quotes that they might make it into print. Unless you’re a tabloid journalist. And I think this is where your unease is coming from. The move from digital to print, and from non-overt profit to overt profit, without your permission.

    That said, i can see why they did it, and why they don’t necessarily understand the concern…

    • “Unless you’re a tabloid journalist.” Wow.

      I think they should know they’re being used for PROFIT. The print thing? It’s a detail that defines the situation but isn’t the key point.

  75. Ok, I saved all my other comments for the end. I wonder if anyone else will read thru the 140+ comments. More comments, than characters 🙂

    1) Do you participate in #TNI? – Yes; even co-hosted it

    2)Did you know that they were collecting your words and images for use in a book? – I didn’t. Only afterwards.

    3) Do you think this is a problem? If so, or if not, why? – Right or Wrong, if I am sourced I feel much better about it.

    4) Have you been quoted in the online round up posts? If so, do you think this is different than being quoted in a for sale print book? – Yes, quoted. Actually, at first I did think it was different, but is it? When I look deeper, I am being quoted for someone’s published work that they profit off? It has more similarities than I originally thought.

    5) Do you care what happens to the words you post to Twitter? – I care, but I also think what we tweet, we give for people to see and I guess even use….that is the essence of twitter. What you give, comes back greater in return, right?

    additional thoughts.
    I can’t but notice the ‘creativity.’ I may not be comfortable with all the actions (especially photographs) but I do admire the creativity to turn travel knowledge into revenue. When I original saw the sponsorships, I thought, the sponsors are getting tremendous knowledge from us….What an opportunity. Instead of protecting, I wish I could spend more time thinking of creative ways myself… perhaps that’s a new 2011 goal. Set that artist free.

    Overall, I so appreciate everyone’s comments and insights… and of course the Pam for stirring this conversation. This was a hour well spent.

    stay adventurous, Craig

  76. I’ve participated in a few #TNI’s and did not know my tweets could be used in a book (I can’t say if I’m in the book or not). I think a lot of this debate could’ve been solved by simple manners. Directly tweeting those people that they wanted to include in their book and asking them permission. I’m sure if permission had been asked, many people would’ve said yes, assuming they were being credited properly. I know I’ve been in at least one #TNI roundup, but that doesn’t bother me as much. Perhaps because a book you have to buy directly to read. Whereas a blog is free, although money can be made from advertisers. It’s a tricky debate, one that doesn’t have any easy answers. But I’m glad this post has got people talking about it; discussion is always a good thing.

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