Twitter has announced a data grants program, which sounds potentially exciting as it’s nice when academics can gain access to resources (in this case, if I’m reading it correctly, that means data).
Before proceeding to the application form, however, you have to accept their “Data Grant Submission Agreement v1.0”. That’s not something academics often have to do when applying for grants, but I appreciate that Twitter may need to cover some ground in this domain. This is where things get confusing quickly though, at least to this scholar with no legal background. I quote to you what I found the most intriguing (not in a good way):
You or the owner of the Content still own the copyright in the Content, but by submitting Content to Twitter, you are granting Twitter an unconditional, irrevocable, non-exclusive, royalty-free, fully paid-up, fully transferable, perpetual and worldwide license to evaluate, use, copy, perform, display, publish, transmit, or create derivative works of the Content, or to authorize third parties to evaluate, use, copy, perform, display, publish, transmit, or create derivative works of the Content in any format and on any platform, either now known or hereinafter invented. Twitter will own any derivative works it (or its authorized third parties) creates from the Content. You hereby waive all copyright, trademark, trade secret, patent and other intellectual property right claims you may have against Twitter for evaluating, using, copying, performing, displaying, publishing, transmitting, or creating derivative works of the Content.
Just to clarify, all applicants have to agree to this, not just the recipients of their grants.
In comparison, most granting agencies (these tend to be either governmental or nonprofit although there are companies as well) seem to request no such thing. In fact, as a reviewer, you are usually asked to agree to keep the material you receive confidential. The granting agencies rarely make public the submissions. Even if they did, in many cases, the ideas concern data not yet collected so even if someone were to run with your ideas, they may not yet have the resources to pull off the necessary data collection.
In contrast, here you are to give Twitter license to publicize your ideas including to folks who may then have the precise data set with which they can pursue your ideas. That may not be Twitter’s intent, but it is legally covered to do so.
This seems rather problematic to me and am very curious to hear how other people read the agreement, especially from an academic researcher’s perspective, but other perspectives welcomed as well. Also, legally speaking, can anyone help me understand what rights the owner of Content has in this scenario that are different from what Twitter can do with said Content? The licensing seems so expansive, I don’t understand what the original owner is left with. Is the issue that at least you still have the right to work on your ideas without Twitter’s permission?