Portland-based FMYI has to be one of my favorite dark horse “They’re in Portland?” companies. They work with huge brands. They’ve been around forever—at least in Internet time. (I mean, c’mon. They have a four-letter domain name.) And best of all? They’ve been incredibly successful—and growing—even in this down economy.
Need proof? Well today they’re taking the wraps off of their latest version—FMYI 6.0—and the announcement includes some very kind words from a couple of those big name clients, namely HBO and Hyatt.
Not familiar with FMYI?
Harnessing the ever-expanding power of the Internet, FMYI 6.0 helps companies, organizations and individuals alike by providing a platform to inspire innovation and sustainability. As a central communications hub, FMYI’s social workspaces bring teams together regardless of size or geography to share information, to take action to achieve goals, and to empower.
The latest version of FMYI expands on the concept of helping teams foster innovation—ensuring that everyone is on the same page as far as communications go. It’s a collaborative workspace. And the latest features make it even more useful with things like email alerts, breadcrumb trails, a vastly improved calendar, and—perhaps my favorite—Gantt charts.
Want to see it in action? Take a few minutes to walk through the latest features with the FMYI team.
For all of the news features, one of the most obvious—and compelling—improvements with FMYI 6.0 has to be the vastly improved look and feel. Not only does the new design step it up a notch, the clean interface makes FMYI feel easier to use. And that’s always a good thing.
The new look was designed by none other than Portland-based Josh Pyles. You may remember Josh as one of the team members on the Jive Software‘s relaunch. He also happens to be the same guy who helped punch up the Silicon Florist theme a few months back. And he’s truly outdone himself with this complete overhaul of FMYI.
Portland company attracts blue chip clientele
But even more impressive than the beautiful new chrome job? The big names that are lauding the value of FMYI.
While a glimpse at FMYI may inspire comparisons to products like 37signals Basecamp and Portland-based Jive Software Social Business Software, they’ve managed to carve out a niche and deliver a compelling product—while establishing some rabidly loyal clients.
“Finding an affordable hosted solution that meets our business needs, which is also secure and easy to support, is a welcome change,” said Michael Gabriel, Executive Vice President & Chief Information Officer, HBO, in a press release. “FMYI continues to be responsive and that makes our job easier, and allows us to focus our resources on other areas where packaged solutions don’t meet our needs.”
And they’re not the only ones who are happy. Other household names like SONY, FOX, and Aflac have found FMYI and indispensable resource.
Hyatt Hotels & Resorts is equally complimentary.
“Working with FMYI has allowed us to create a tool that connects all of our hotels together using one central platform,” said Brigitta Witt, Vice President, Environmental Affairs, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, in a press release. “On any given day, you can see employees on opposite sides of the world sharing best practices, collaborating on concepts or sharing news and information. This has fostered not only a greater sense of community across our hotels, but it also gives me a tremendous insight into the many wonderful environmental initiatives happening around the world.”
Start focusing your team’s innovative thinking
While I’ve always been a fan of FMYI, I have to admit that the latest version has me championing it even more. If you’re looking for some tools to help get your whole team on the same page, I highly recommend giving FMYI a test drive. Not only will you be buying local, you’ll be getting a great product to boot.
For more information, visit FMYI.
I do believe your company and intentions are exceptionally honorable, but, I believe there are better solutions than those you currently offer.
Implied licenses can be claimed if the User believes there is public access to the content/material, but they are a weak defense because they can be trumped by express restrictions; i.e. it’s messy.
If anything, your T&C require more restrictions on FMYI’s use if you want to use a License structure. Because FMYI access is private, not public, and not searchable by Google et al, you do have more legal structures available to you than if the User Content was being indexed, etc..
What you haven’t addressed is how the structure you operate under may cripple User/Developers in the future from entering into “exclusive license agreements” for their IP that previously resided in some form on your site (say, I upload
to a wiki that my team collaborates on in FMYI - you now have a perpetual License and ability to sublicense that code; and change T&C to whatever you want?). That's a tough disclosure to have to make from a Developers side.
I know it CURRENTLY states it's only applicable to "Services to me," but, the definition of "Services" can change and is ambiguous and with very few restrictions on FMYI, which is what's needed.
Part of why you've reserved the right to change your T&C is in anticipation of improving them over time, yes?
For alternatives to License Agreement structures, you may consider SERU as one http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/acrl/publications/crlnews/2008/dec/breakbottleneck.cfm -- there are others as well. But, SERU was created due to the inherent problems with Licensing Agreements and online content. Other options come from outside of digital, such as "rental law," which could be applied as well.
I am not a lawyer, but I think people should remember that feelings about data security and ownership are often very different in the enterprise world.
To my knowledge the T&C requirements of apps like FMYI or Jive SBS are likely to be quite different than those for say, Twitter. What looks restrictive and even overbearing for us as individuals might be standard practice in IT, and I know there are enough sysadmin Silicon Florist readers to know that. 🙂
I rather doubt that clients like Hyatt and HBO are using FMYI without having taken a look at these issues.
Thanks for everyone’s passion on this subject! Maybe I’m in a reflective mood because of the hard work by our team on FMYI 6.0, or the fact that I’m holding my newborn baby in my lap and enjoying a grey Portland day, but this reminds me why I started FMYI in a coffee shop (thanks Urban Grind!) five years ago. It’s always been about helping others solve their problems, as part of our sustainability/triple bottom line approach. And we’ve bootstrapped the company through customer feedback.
We have heard loud and clear throughout the years that our customers care deeply about the security of their data. Since data security is our top priority, we chose to go with a Terms of Service that is specific about the protections it offers to our users and FMYI, rather than having protections be implied and left up to interpretation by the courts.
To respond to Dale, Marc and Samantha:
@Dale / @Marc D.
What you quote is only the second half of the paragraph. FMYI doesn’t own any submitted content by the user, and the user has all the rights related to the submitted content. FMYI is just licensed to show only you the content. The full paragraph:
“FMYI does not claim ownership of any Submitted Content. You, and not FMYI, shall have sole responsibility for the accuracy, quality, integrity, legality, reliability, appropriateness and Proprietary Rights or right to use all Submitted Content, and FMYI shall not be responsible for the deletion, correction, destruction, damage, loss or failure to store any Submitted Content. However, with respect to any Submitted Content, all Users grant FMYI a worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, perpetual, irrevocable and fully sublicensable license to use, distribute, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, publicly perform and publicly display such Submitted Content (in whole or in part) solely for the purposes of providing the Services to you.”
Whether the Terms say it or not, every time you post something to a site/solution hosted by someone else, you are giving them a license under the law to display it. This is because as soon as you type something or post it, you have created and own a copyright in it. Copyright is a form of IP and therefore you are giving someone else your IP. To use someone else’s IP we need their permission to do so. This permission comes in the form of a license. If there is not an express license grant in the language then there is an implied one under the law. When you rely on things like “implied” licenses who knows what the scope of it is? For instance, does that implied license include the right of the solution provider to modify the content? It is unclear in Basecamp’s case. Our language tells you exactly what we are going to do with your content (show it to you, and only you). Perhaps this is a question you should ask our friends in Chicago about…
We are passionate about what we do, doing the right thing, and the local Portland tech and sustainability scenes. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to swing by our offices at the Leftbank Project – would be great to grab a coffee or beer sometime!
@justin you said:
“FMYI is legally required to have a license even to share it with your own team.”
That is plainly not correct. Yes, it is one legal vehicle, but, you have others at your disposal, however, you have opted for the most invasive structure for USERs who may face future breach of contract suits due to having entered into the non-exclusive License with FMYI (unless they disclose this, but it means NEVER entering into an exclusive license or sale of any IP that has been posted to FMYI, EVER).
If a License were an obligation, then BASECAMP would require it, they don’t.
TWITTER does require such T&C, since they publicly display Owner’s content. Private services do not require a License, a USER can “rent” the space/service from you without entering into a License Agreement through a variety of legal terms. While FMYI is a reputable operation, there are collaboration sites springing up who are appropriating IP, particularly from developers, during early-stage proprietary work.
Granting a license of any kind whatsoever to IP during development? It’s suicidal. Under the thinking you apply, you should be required to be under strict NDA and NCA terms by all of your Clients, the same as any employee or partner.
There is never only one legal opinion that is fact. If that were the case, there wouldn’t be Courts. I recommend you seek multiple opinions and then undertake efforts to promote how you are not invasive and how your focus is on protecting the IP of those who use your service. That will differentiate you in the market.
We are entrusting an online company with extremely sensitive information. We can only hope that the concern for it’s value is held by both sides.
“Harnessing the ever-expanding power of the Internet, FMYI 6.0 helps companies, organizations and individuals alike by providing a platform to inspire innovation and sustainability. As a central communications hub, FMYI’s social workspaces bring teams together regardless of size or geography to share information, to take action to achieve goals, and to empower.”
That has got to be one of the worst descriptions I have ever read.
Why do companies do this? Just be real and direct!
I’m not a lawyer, but, there does appear to be conflicting language in your T&C:
perpetual, irrevocable and fully sublicensable license to use, distribute, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, publicly perform and publicly display such Submitted Content (in whole or in part)
Is the part that would worry anyone. You can say it’s “qualified” and diluted by other language, but, you could also rely on that language (Why do you need to “publicly perform” something you say you are solely sharing privately? Why is it perpetual, if someone closes an account you still have a License? Why?).
Again, it’s very conflicting language and I think it’s better for people to bring these kind of issues to the forefront, since as @dale says, no one really reads these.
Thanks for your concern about the Terms and Conditions! The section you mention allows FMYI to utilize the content you post SOLELY to share with the people you choose to share it with. You may wonder why FMYI needs to do something like this, and why other similar sites do as well. It’s because it’s required by law. The data is intellectual property, and as FMYI is a vehicle to share it, FMYI is legally required to have a license even to share it with your own team. Regarding the ability to change terms and conditions, all companies need to do so because legal requirements change from time to time. To remain current and because new features are added, FMYI needs to be as dynamic as the products offered.
@Aaron, I was only able to see it as FYI, until I watched the video.
@Dale: The terms look insane, I’m wondering how come they managed to have customers like HBO with these terms.
Whenever I see FMYI I always think of FML.
However, with respect to any Submitted Content, all Users grant FMYI a worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, perpetual, irrevocable and fully sublicensable license to use, distribute, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, publicly perform and publicly display such Submitted Content (in whole or in part) solely for the purposes of providing the Services to you.
So, when the Content I upload requires me to make future representations that I’ve never licensed it and I can enter into an “exclusive” license with someone else (like a Venture Cap group), how does this apply? I’ve already entered into a License with FMYI.
And, since FMYI (like everyone) reserve right to change the T&C at any time, what if they decide that License now extends beyond “Services.”
OK, no one reads the T&C on these sites, but, compare it to Basecamp.
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