19. 02. 2020

Microsoft called to withdraw ‘open-sourcing’ of all customer content

Open letter to Brad Smith at Microsoft

Software licensing experts, Cerno, today calls on Brad Smith, Microsoft’s Head of Legal, to withdraw its standard product terms on the basis of unreasonable and unfair open-sourcing of user’s content.

The terms insist that anything shared via any of its 125+ product lines inc Outlook, Office365 and Skype is given free use for onward-sharing by any recipient or participant  – even if highly sensitive, private or commercially valuable. Copyright protections are therefore over-ruled by the standard terms.

Microsoft currently imposes on all users the following: ‘When you share Your Content with other people, you expressly agree that anyone you’ve shared Your Content with may, for free and worldwide, use, save, record, reproduce, broadcast, transmit, share, display, communicate … Your Content’.  

In Cerno’s view, this alarming provision renders commercial confidentiality and data privacy controls of no effect with any documents or other content shared or emailed with more than one person.

Microsoft makes it clear that all content is covered (‘postings submitted by you to Microsoft via the Services; and the files, photos, documents, audio, digital works, livestreams and videos that you upload, store, broadcast or share through the Services’)

Cerno director Robin Fry stated that ‘Such enforced abandonment of copyright and privacy controls is, in Cerno’s view, not expected by individual users or indeed by any corporate. It renders many legal rights unenforceable e.g. those for infringement of copyright or breach of confidentiality.  And its continuance could seriously disrupt necessary litigation to ensure that all such content is kept within the group within which it is shared’.

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