already gone? Nevermind…

Another mainstream entrant into the citizen journalism space, this time from CBS and sporting one of the worst URLs yet – That’s ‘eye’ as in ‘i’ as in ‘iMobile’, of course. Snappy strapline, too:
CBS Eye, er, i Mobile
At first glance, it’s much of a muchness with CNN’s iReport and similar sites. As you would expect, there’s an uncompromising rights grab in force, so contributors can kiss their copyright – and any hope of earnings – goodbye.

When you upload Your Upload Information via the Web Sites, you irrevocably grant to Company […] a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free license containing, without limitation, all right, title and interest in Your Upload Information […] You further agree that Company […] will have the unfettered right throughout the universe, in perpetuity, without any credit or compensation to you, to use, reuse, modify, alter, display, archive, publish, sub-license, perform, reproduce, disclose, transmit, broadcast, post, sell, translate, create derivative works of, distribute and use for advertising, marketing, publicity and promotional purposes […] You hereby waive any moral rights you may have in and to any of Your Upload Information

Now the fact is that people who use sites like CBS eye iMobile likely won’t have a clue about copyright, moral rights, commercial opportunities etc. So you have to ask the question whether it’s ok to exploit this ignorance. I’ve gone on record often enough about this and my personal opinion is: no, of course it’s not ok, and neither is it ok to assume that contributors don’t care about these issues. CBS should spell it out in plain English and take their chances:

We’re going to own anything you send us and if humanly possible we’ll broadcast it and sell it on around the world for $$$ without every paying you a cent.

So what can you do on iMobile? Well, as a contributor, you can upload pics and videos from your mobile phone. You can be a news reporter, if you stumble upon a story, or you can show people the weather in your neck of the woods. Failing that, you can ‘cover’ politics or sport. As a viewer, you can do all the standard vote’n’comment’n’track’n’share stuff.
What you can’t do is make sense of any of the content on the site because, like iReport, it’s a shambles. It’s a shambles because nobody is concerned with turning contributor uploads into a halfway meaningful product.
And so, again, we have a mainstream media org launching a citizen journalism service because a) it ticks a box that’s been bugging them for a while, and b) they might, just might, occasionally get valuable breaking news content that keeps them ahead of the competition.
So it’s worth doing, but only worth doing badly.