This license applies throughout the known universe

I was just listening to an old episode of This Week in Law (I recommend this podcast if you are interested in legal trends online even though there is a strong US law bias) and the panel discussed a tendency to incorporate seemingly absurd license provisions in terms of use.

srvr from Nasa Images.jpg

One example they cited is the terms of use on the Star Wars website which includes this gem:

By making any Submission, the sender automatically grants, or warrants that the owner of such material expressly grants, Lucas the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive right and license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, and distribute such material (in whole or in part) throughout the universe and/or to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or hereafter developed, for the full term of any copyright, trademark or patent that may exist in such material for any purpose that Lucas chooses, whether internal, public, commercial, or otherwise, without any compensation, credit or notice to the sender whatsoever. (emphasis added)

This sort of language both demonstrates the absurd lengths some lawyers will go to control how, when and where content may be used as, possibly, a degree of extreme foresight. If humans acquire the technology to venture beyond our home planet before the copyright term applicable to the submissions these sorts of terms apply to, one question is whether the licenses granted will continue to apply outside the scope of the usual geographical specifications more commonly used? Hypothetically this could be a challenge which terms of use with universal application could address although I have to wonder if these license terms sufficiently take into account the relativistic effect of galactic space travel or the implications of travelling between parallel universes?

(Note: as witty as my comments may seem, they were inspired by Evan Brown’s similar comments on TWIL 36)

Published by Paul Jacobson

Enthusiast, writer, Happiness Engineer at @automattic. I take photos too. Passionate about my wife, Gina and #proudDad.

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