The Risks of Apps

So, in-line with our topic for this week I decided to take a look at the legal/privacy policy for the app Junaio, a 3D augmented reality app available on Android and Iproducts. My question going into this was “who owns the material submitted to this app?” Like many free apps / services there is an assumption that the free consumer usage likely comes at some hidden cost. By this I do not imply that the end-user will be charged a secret monetary fee, but rather that the developers will find some other means to make a profit off of their product’s use. Generally this is achieved through ad revenue, as is the case with the popular hand-held game Angry Birds. Junaio does not function on this in-product add principal (at least I could not find any ads during my 15 min rummage through the app).

So what does the profit means of the developer have to do with what happens to my material once submitted? Well, Junaio’s privacy policy states that any and all material provided by the user to the app is considered to be the semi-property of the developer. The exact text reads,

“By submitting Content to metaio, you hereby grant metaio a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sub-licensable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the Content in connection with the Services and metaio’s (and its successor’s) business, including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the Services (and derivative works thereof) in any media formats and through any media channels.”

While I am all for reading the fine text when downloading apps to my devices, I do not think that, in this instance, the developer is insinuating that they will profit from our submissions. Having perused the developer’s website, including the privacy policy and that of the parent company Metiao I find it unlikely that this would be their primary source of revenue. Additionally I do not believe that the company is so insidious as to sell the user’s private information, as stated in Metaio’s privacy policy.

You may ask, why this little aside into the behind-the-scenes operations of an augmented reality app? I thought that, considering we will be relying heavily on free-use apps like Jenaio and Augment, we should be aware of the rules that govern the use of these programs. Ultimately these are profit-driven operations and as such should be examined when being used, especially if we are hoping to create works of digital history. While our current project is unlikely to garner any specific monetary acclaim, future endeavors by anyone in our class, or better yet anyone engaging in digital history, should be undertaken with the understanding that material submitted to free-use apps often comes with a finely spelled-out ownership clause.

TLDR: Always read the fine print whenever getting anything for free, especially if that free thing functions on a device that holds all of your personal information.

– Alex