Blogger: A pig in a poke?

It was seemingly during the reign of Mackenzie King that we suggested that some conglomerate buy Blogger and, among other things, offer professionally-designed Weblog templates for which designers earn royalties.

We specifically alerted homely, mismanaging Blogger Übergruppenführer Evan Williams of this idea. Pyra Labs never actually sold out to some monolith (preferring some kind of deal with Trellix, whoever they are). And now, instead of hiring professionals with known credentials, Blogger is holding a template contest.

It’s pretty much the worst possible approach. Under the guise of communitarianism and the volunteer ethos, the template contest might net you a copy of a certain book or a Dreaweaver software package or some Web-hosting or, in the most superdeluxe outcome, a Blogger T-shirt. For a design that thousands of people may use for years.

If Blogger were simply canvassing for freebie template designs, we’d be right in there rootin’ for them. But there are prizes at stake. In other words, money. That rather ups the stakes (and the risks), as anyone who has ever carried on a conversation on a downtown streetcorner with a blonde negress in stiletto heels and a miniskirt has come to realize.

And did we mention the schizophrenia of the contest rules’ license provisions? You must own the copyright to your work, but Pyra Labs effectively takes it over. They don’t have the guts to admit that they are offering a wholesale copyright transfer, and may indeed argue that the following passage refers only to what Pyra can do with your work and not what you yourself can do:

You must be the original author and have full copyright ownership of all code, design, graphics or other elements submitted as part of your entry.... You grant Sponsor unrestricted rights to use, modify, and license submitted designs, code, graphics or other elements in any way.

In the now-infamous manner of copyright cartels everywhere (Farmclub, anyone?), what amounts to an irrevocable and complete transfer of intellectual-property rights is merely itemized rather than stated in full.


Blogger is looking more and more like a pig in a poke every single day.

Posted on 2001-04-28