Agree to Agree

As we prepared to launch DesignScene 1.0 in late 2010, the internet was awash in stories about apps getting into legal trouble for reformatting articles from prominent publications. Wired asked, “Is Flipboard Legal?”, while All Things D reported, “Pulse iPad App Gets Steve Jobs’s Praise in Morning…Then Booted From App Store Hours Later After NYT Complains.” Since providing design-related online content in a compelling interface was the raison d’être for DesignScene, we felt that we needed to be proactive in assuring the rights of the sites we featured.

So we took the time to work with a lawyer to write a very simple agreement that we asked most of the sites featured to agree to. I say “most” because some, such as Flickr, had permissive-enough terms for apps to begin with. But for all the other sites, we asked for permission via this letter, and only added the sites that agreed. Today, we have 75 such agreements on file. This worked out great for us, not only because it gave us the confidence to feature these sites without fear, but also because it let them know where we were coming from.

Where are we coming from? Of course, we’d like DesignScene to do well, but ultimately, we wanted to create a platform to feature great designs that drive traffic back to the originating web sites. The agreement, therefore, is as favorable to the content owners as we could make it:

RSS Content License

[Content owner] grants Lunar/Theory, LLC permission to link, redistribute or to publicly display the RSS Content, in part or in whole, consisting of text and images, of [Content owner] via Lunar/Theory’s DesignScene application under the following conditions:

  • Lunar/Theory must display the RSS Content in a manner that allows successful linking to, redirection to or delivery of the applicable [Content owner] webpage.
  • Lunar/Theory may not insert any intermediate page, splash page or other content between the RSS link and the applicable [Content owner] webpage.
  • Lunar/Theory may not modify the text, content, or links supplied by [Content owner] except for the purposes of reformatting as needed for display in DesignScene.
  • [Content owner] retains all rights, trademarks and copyrighted material used in connection with this RSS Service.
  • In connection with [Content owner]’s RSS Content, Lunar/Theory may not transmit any unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, pornographic, profane or otherwise objectionable information of any kind.
  • License granted is a world-wide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, perpetual license for commercial or non-commercial use which may be canceled by [Content owner] at any time.

Yep, that’s it. Perhaps others will find this useful. We’re happy to share, and hope that we’ve contributed in some small way to the success of sites featuring inspiring art and design.