Sep 17, 2009

because you can't spell innovation without t.o.s.

So Sarah Lacy tees off on the startups that demo'd at TechCrunch50 this week:

Not enough passion, not enough swinging for the fences, not enough trying to change the world. There were too many people building safe businesses, too many companies just trying to make existing things slightly better, and too many people wanting to be the next, not the next Google.

I wasn't there, and I only half-heartedly followed along in blogotwitland, so I'll take Sarah's word for it -- she's smart, she's great writer, and she does a good video interview.

But! I think there's one company -- Udorse -- that is pushing the boundaries in an area where we haven't seen much innovation lately...the all-important terms of service.

First, some background: Udorse is a "visual endorsement engine" that lets you tag photos of you and your friends with endorsements of the products in those photos. Here's Robin Wauters' Techcrunch description of the demo (or you can just go watch it):

Udorse co-founder Geoffrey Lewis picked a photo of him and a friend who works as a fahion designer. Endorsing in this case is done by selecting an item – the dress she’s wearing – and identifying it with a description and associated brand name, with the extra ability to add links and commentary to the highlighted item. Every time someone sees the photo and clicks the associated Udorse icon or link, they are able to gather more information about the product or directly be referred to the website where it can be bought.

I know. So good, right? It gets better, though. The real innovation lies in their terms of service. Most of the TOS is the typical stuff about your account and limitations of liability and content ownership and all the things that no one ever reads.

But check out section C, titled "Udorsement Rules."

By Udorsing a photo (a "Udorsed Photo"), you represent and warrant that (1) you have the written consent of each and every identifiable natural person in the Udorsed Photo to use such person's likeness in the manner contemplated by the Service and this Agreement, and each such person has released you from any liability that may arise in relation to such use; ...

I know. "Written consent." So good, right?

Wait -- before you roll your eyes, think of the opportunity they're creating: if Udorse takes off, there's a huge need for a marketplace of third party developers of workflow solutions that help you quickly and easily get consent from all your friends in your Udorsed photographs!

In the meantime, I've Udorsed a photo of this TastyKake truck, since it's not a natural person.


Seriously, I really do love TastyKakes of most varieties.