A lesson from sproutbuilder pay-for-play scheme

One of the thing that has always worried me about certain web 2.0 companies that I recommend is the ability of a service provider to “own” your content. This appears to be what’s going to be a major headache with sproutbuilder now that they are beginning to charge for their service. To wit:

Q. Does the paid version mean I can download my sprouts and flash files to host them myself?
A. No, due to the way Sprout Builder‘s system is structured and this is the way most web-based apps work. We host and deliver all your assets and sprouts so that you don’t have to.


Q. What happens to my existing Sprouts if I decide not to pay for service?
A. If you decide not to pay for service, you will no longer be able to log in to Sprout Builder. To regain access to Sprout Builder and your existing Sprouts you will have to subscribe to service.

They don’t really say what will happen to your existing sprouts. Will they be available for viewing? Who knows.

It’s a high-tech form of extortion, in a way. They should at least allow you to download your previous sprouts so you can wash your hands of them and host the flash-based applications on your own site.

My question: who will be the first to sue them over copyright for access to their intellectual property. Yeah, this is serious business, folks.

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