I’m about to get attacked, but bear with me.

Conference organizers want your slides when you give a talk, mostly because attendees want slides, often because you put way too much information in them. That’s fine and understandable. Conference organizers would also probably rather be running conferences than building huge content management systems that allow nice uploading of slide decks in various formats (power point, keynote, open office, that crazy thing Derick & Rasmus use, etc).

Sites like Slideshare and Thinkfree seem like great solutions, the software issue is solved, decks can be tagged appropriately, linking things is easy. As an added bonus the content will even be available the next year, despite the current war on last year’s conference information (just try and find my speakers bio from any past conference without using google cache or archive.org).

My problem is with the terms of service that these sites use, or to be more accurate, the fact that I’ve neither read nor agreed to those terms of service.

Here’s a section of the terms of service from Thinkfree:
Publishing and Sharing Content
The user has the right to publicize or not to publicize their own contents. By publicizing the Contents, the user acknowledges and agrees that anyone using this Web site can and may use the Contents without restrictions.
From time to time, publicized Contents can be used by ThinkFree at its own discretion.
In addition, the user can allow a specified user to access and collaborate on user-created Contents. ThinkFree is not responsible for any problems arising from users sharing or publishing Contents.

So if a helpful conference organizer uploads my slides to thinkfree, they’ve given thinkfree the right to use the content however they see fit. They’ve also given any site visitor the right to use those slides without restrictions. My legalese is rusty, but it sounds like: any site visitor or the company behind thinkfree can do with as they please, any content that’s uploaded and public.

I’m not comfortable with that. I don’t feel that I’ve granted such rights to conference organizers by handing them my slides. I also don’t feel like I have the right to grant those permissions myself: I often use stock photography in my presentations, stock photography that comes with limited terms. By uploading my slides to various sites you might even be exposing me to lawsuits.

So please, keep old sites around and link to the PDFs.

edit: corrected some grammar as per comment, thanks!

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Excellent point. After the tek unconference last week, I had quite a few people sending me their slides to post. I told every single one of them to post the slides themselves using whatever service they prefer and I'll link to those.

While the person may want me to post their slides, I don't want to take or assume any rights I don't have. Even worse, if there's some sort of issue later on, I don't want to be responsible for it.

By people posting their own slides, I can bypass all of that and let them take any/all liability with stock photo and whatever agreements they've made are their problem. ;-)

In summary: You're 100% correct and we need to watch out accordingly.
#1 Keith Casey (Homepage) on 2009-05-31 15:14 (Reply)

TYPO: "they’ve also given thinkfree to use the content however they see fit" - I think you left out the word "rights."

Good points otherwise.
#2 Owen Byrne (Homepage) on 2009-06-04 14:38 (Reply)

Thanks, I think I've improved the reading of that sentance.
#3 Paul Reinheimer (Homepage) on 2009-06-04 15:07 (Reply)

So what was your solution? That the presenters should upload their own slides to share sites or that the share sites terms are not very good for business slide shows because of ownership issues?
#4 tristan bailey (Homepage) on 2009-06-08 09:19 (Reply)

Great questions.

I don't feel I can hold it against the various sites, as they don't owe me, or conference attendees, anything. As such they're welcome to whatever terms of service they'd choose to adopt.

My wrath is directed towards the conferences for the most part. I'd like to see them upload decks to their own sites, and leave those sites up past the conference end date. I'm quite tired of sites disappearing once the next conference round starts up.

Should speakers choose to upload there decks elsewhere (such as slideshare), apropriate linking on the part of the conference organizers should be easy.
#5 Paul Reinheimer (Homepage) on 2009-06-08 23:09 (Reply)

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Hi, I’m Paul Reinheimer, a developer working on the web.

I co-founded WonderProxy which provides access to over 200 proxies around the world to enable testing of geoip sensitive applications. We've since expanded to offer more granular tooling through Where's it Up

My hobbies are cycling, photography, travel, and engaging Allison Moore in intelligent discourse. I frequently write about PHP and other related technologies.