Does Merriam-Webster adding "ginormous" to their dictionary bother anyone else?
Jing - a new "project" that lets you quickly add links to screenshots to IM, email, Twitter, etc.

Does your employer have rights to your Facebook profile or LinkedIn contacts list?

Does your employer have the right to request access to your Facebook profile or LinkedIn contacts list if you leave the company?  That's essentially the question asked in yesterday's Register article: "Your boss could own your Facebook profile." The article is primarily about a legal case where someone (Junior Isles) was leaving a publisher (PennWell) to go set up a rival firm and was insistent on taking his contact list with him.  He had brought some of that list with him to PennWell, but had then added to that list while there. The key paragraphs to me are:

The Court ruled that the list belonged to PennWell. It said that if he had maintained a separate list of contacts for personal purposes and added selectively to it, he could have kept that. It also said that he could have taken his personal contacts and any that he brought to the firm in the first place with him.

Because Isles had tried to take the whole list, PennWell was allowed to keep the database of contacts and was also granted an injunction preventing Isles from using the database. The company did allow Isles to keep and use the contacts he had brought to the firm, though.

The ruling confirmed the right of an employer to treat as its own property the creations of its employees if they were made in the course of business. That includes digital creations, even if some of that creation is for personal purposes.

There is no direct connection here to Facebook, but the article makes the connection to social networking services and quotes IP lawyer Catrin Turner of Pinsent Masons:

"If [the employer] can argue that you have created something and it's in the course of your employment, it's irrelevant where it's stored because the law doesn't look at where it's stored, the law looks at the circumstances in which it was created," she said. "If you create a contact list or any sort of document during working hours using your work PC that relates in some way to your job or is of value to your employer they would have a very strong argument that that belongs to them."

And then later this:

"The basic law is that if you create copyright material, something you write or type into a computer, you take photographs, you do cartoons, you potentially create film, if that is created in the course of your employment then the assumption is that that belongs to your employer, so that doesn't have to be written down by your employer," she said.

All in all it's an interesting question that will no doubt be sorted out in legal cases over the next few years.  Once upon a time (and still, in many/most cases), we built contact lists for our employer inside the firewall... in CRM systems, databases, spreadsheets, etc.  While we still do that, we also build those contact lists externally through Facebook, LinkedIn and the many other social networking sites - as well as our IM contact lists.  Where does the dividing line exist between what is your employer's intellectual property and what is yours?  (Especially given that most corporate folks are probably accessing all those sites and services using their corporate PC or laptop!)

It shall be an interesting time to see how this all gets sorted out as the line between work and personal time/space gets increasingly blurred or even erased.  There's probably going to be a whole lot of job security in being a lawyer dealing with such matters...

(Tip of the hat to Denise Howell's Lawgarithms ZDNet blog, where I saw this link.)