GSA close to agreement with YouTube

Bev Godwin, director of the General Services Administration's USA.gov, told a gathering of government information technology executives that the agency is close to resolving terms-of-service agreements with YouTube and several other social media sites.

Godwin said some agreements have been reached, but an announcement awaits final negotiations with sites such as blip.tv and Flickr.

“Look for something on this next week,” she said.

She made her remarks at the Information Processing Interagency Conference this morning in Orlando, Fla. Godwin is currently detailed to the White House and is a point person in the negotiations.

The main sticking points between the two sides are indemnification, choice-of-law and endorsement clauses in the social media sites’ terms-of-service agreements, Godwin said.

For example, YouTube’s indemnification clause holds the service harmless from claims against it and requires members to help the site defend against lawsuits.

YouTube’s terms of service also stipulate that a state court in San Mateo County, Calif., would decide disputes, a condition likely to be unacceptable to the federal government, according to legal experts.

YouTube’s terms of service also specify that once a video is posted on the site, all registered YouTube users are allowed to display and embed the video on their own Web sites.

GSA has been negotiating special addendums to the terms of service for government agencies for about eight months, agency officials said. When an agreement is reached with GSA, it will be offered to all federal agencies.

In January, the White House’s counsel issued a special waiver to allow YouTube to set persistent cookies on users’ computers so President Barack Obama could post his weekly video addresses there. Cookies are small data files that gather information about users’ activities on the site, and rules typically forbid government sites from using them.

About the Authors

David Rapp is editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week and VP of content for 1105 Government Information Group.

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Federal Computer Week.

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