I am posting this question to gather information for my internship research project.

Currently, I am interning at a company that is redeveloping its website to incorporate more user-generated content, such as photos and videos. The redeveloped site will require users to agree to terms and conditions that grant the company a non-exclusive license to use the user-generated content as it chooses. The company is very aware that these types of terms are controversial because of the potential for exploitation. However, it has no intention of changing them.

Despite this, the company is eager to keep its website users loyal and happy. It also wants to behave ethically (and maintain its well-known reputation for doing so).

There has been some discussion of creating a code of ethics for dealing with user-generated content. However, if such a policy were developed, it would be meant for internal use only; the public would not be aware of it.

Under these circumstances, what would the company need to do to ensure user satisfaction and keep its ethical reputation intact?

Would consistent behaviour in terms of not licensing or selling user-generated content to third parties be sufficient? What more could it do?

Your opinions or any advice you could provide would be greatly appreciated.

Kind regards,
Beth Lasser

Just a brief clarification...

This is not a reference to the site's terms and conditions. The company is -- and will continue to be -- completely upfront about those. They are available to read on the site and are presented to visitors who choose to register. I am referring to a separate ethical code.

The terms and conditions grant the company a non-exclusive license. The company wants to keep that because, obviously, they don't know what technology will develop in the future and they want the flexibility to adapt the site (or their products) according to new trends.

When I say ethical code, I am referring to something separate. While the terms would grant a non-exclusive license, the code would dictate the reality of how the company uses the user-generated content.

First, there should be no direct conflict between t-and-c and internal ethical code (it is a given that neither should conflict with current legal and ethical standards).

Become signatory to a national/international association with a governing body (you know, like the AMA or the American Federation of National Associations).

Start an indie band and name it Ethical Corporate Behavior

Start an indie band and name it Ethical Corporate Behavior

Even though I can't sing or play an instrument, this seems like a better option than writing a research paper. ;)

And what happens if a user happens to post copyrighted material (to which they own the copyright?)

That violates the terms and conditions, and the offending material would be removed as soon as the company was made aware of the situaiton.

This isn't about posting materials owned by a third-party. My question assumes that the poster would own copyright.