Like many of my peers, I never read the Terms of Service agreement when it comes to the products I use. I assume the company has my best interest in mind and that there is nothing too outrageous in the contract. After watching the South Park “HumancentiPad”episode where Kyle finds himself in an unusual predicament due to his failure to read the iTunes Terms and Conditions, I decided to read the Hulu Terms of Use agreement that I accepted a couple of years ago. Though completely outrageous, this “centiPad” incident could have happened to any of us. Our desire for a new product in addition to our trust in copyright companies can give these companies a lot of control over us consumers. No, fortunately, I did not sign my future children’s souls over to Hulu, but I did find one policy a bit unnecessary and confusing. While reading the restrictions for the proper use of Hulu, I came across this: “ In addition, you are strictly prohibited from creating derivative works or materials …including montages, mash-ups and similar videos, wallpaper, desktop themes, greeting cards, and merchandise…This prohibition applies even if you intend to give away the derivative materials free of charge.”[i] (Section 3: The Content). I guess I understand “mash-ups” and “montages”, but “wallpapers, desktop themes, and greeting cards?” Not only are we not allowed to create these things, but we cannot make them even if we have no intention of making a profit. When I think of copyright laws, I tend to think of protecting the author’s creative work and revenue. So the fact that a person cannot legally make something “free of charge” for the sole purpose of furthering their enjoyment of a product makes no sense to me. I now understand William Patry’s point when he says “consumers will have what the Politburo decides they can have, when they can have it, in what quantities, at what price, where they can buy it, as well as how long it will be available.”[ii] (6). Now, I am not so extreme as to agree with his comparison of the copyright industry to communists, but I understand his frustration with the tight grip the industry has on its content. They really do tell you when, where, and how you can enjoy their product. Most of the time, I do find myself enjoying the content the way I’m “supposed to;” however, I have screen capped a moment or two from a TV show in order to share it with a friend. I had no idea that that was technically illegal. My friends have access to Hulu, so how could my sharing of a moment be against the law? I did not realize the amount of control that copyright industries have over their content and their consumers. There needs to be some shift in power where copyright companies have a lesser dominance. I’m not saying we should have a pull market where everything is individualized and consumers have most of the control; but there needs to be a middle ground where both parties have a say in the use of a product.


[i] “Terms of Use.” Hulu. 16 March. 2012. Web. 7 Sept. 2012.

[ii] Patry, William. Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 2009. Print.

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