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YouTube Agrees to New Terms of Service for State Agencies

YouTube modifies its terms of service agreement to better protect state government agencies.

by / January 17, 2012

YouTube has agreed to modify its terms of service to make the popular video posting website more government friendly.

The modified terms are the product of nearly 18 months of discussion between YouTube and the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) Social Media Legal Workgroup and various deputy attorneys general, according to a Jan. 17 NASCIO announcement.

During that time, the same NASCIO group was in talks with Facebook and as a result, the social networking site revised its terms of service last year to better protect state and local governments. YouTube was then the next priority for NASCIO.

“While use of YouTube is almost universal across state government, provisions of the standard terms are frequently in strong conflict with state laws and procurement guidelines, presenting significant legal risks to states,” said Doug Robinson, NASCIO’s executive director in a prepared statement. “With the amended terms struck with Facebook last year and now YouTube, we anticipate that other social media providers will agree to make similar modifications to their standard terms and spur adoption of these critical tools.”

Under the new agreement, state agencies don’t have to follow YouTube’s standard “click-through” agreements — the conditions that users must accept when signing up for the website.

Instead, state agencies can opt for a newly developed content license agreement, which includes several legal changes designed to make the popular video website easier for governments to use. Under the new agreement, state agencies are not responsible for YouTube’s legal fees if the site gets sued over content they post, and agencies would have more control over which courts have jurisdiction over legal disputes, said Charles Robb, NASCIO’s senior policy analyst.

State agencies can choose whether or not they want to use new terms.

“What we worked out with [YouTube] was a process whereby in each state, there needs to be review of this provisional content license,” Robb said. “And then if you want it as a state entity, you go through your state CIO and record the fact that you want it.”

The CIO formally approves the request then sends the information to NASCIO, which in turn forwards the information to YouTube. Dugan Petty, NASCIO’s president and Oregon’s CIO, said the new process is intended to minimize the work load for YouTube since they’re not managing a bunch of different agreements, but one basic agreement that each agency can sign up for.

“On the state’s side, it’s a quick, easy way for us to inventory the applications and provide a list, and now we’ll have a standard contract the attorneys general will be comfortable with,” Petty said.

According to NASCIO, the association is looking to develop similar agreements with other social media sites in the future including Twitter.

This story has been updated.

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Sarah Rich

In 2008, Sarah Rich graduated from California State University, Chico, where she majored in news-editorial journalism and minored in sociology. She wrote for for Government Technology magazine from 2010 through 2013.

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