On the very same day that Wired News exposed Yahoo's astonishing claim to own all the content posted on Geocities members' home pages, Microsoft announced its own free home-page service. Twelve free megabytes of Web space are there for anyone's taking, if you're willing to endure a nasty MSN pop-up ad and the ignominy of living in such neighborhoods as "Windows Way."
"By posting messages, uploading files, inputting data, or engaging in any other form of communication through this Web site," read the rules, "you are granting Microsoft permission to: 1. Use, modify, copy, distribute, transmit, publicly display, publicly perform, reproduce, publish, sublicense, create derivative works from, transfer, or sell any such communication."
Whether Microsoft is guilty of the same sin Yahoo committed isn't the real issue, though. The point to note here is that the Yahoo land-grab was hardly an isolated instance of a Web company reaching too far with respect to intellectual property on the Net. Such language is commonplace at corporate Web sites today -- so watch where you post. You never know who might be staking a claim to ... you.