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4/11/2007
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MySpace Blocks Photobucket

An Indiana Court of Appeals decision enforces new restrictions on the popular social networking site.

MySpace users are both more and less free today. A court decision earlier this week affirmed a MySpace user's right to free speech even as MySpace on Wednesday denied its users' right to free software on their MySpace pages.

Reversing a lower court decision, the Indiana Court of Appeals on Monday ruled that a juvenile's expletive-rich MySpace posts deriding her school's principal constituted protected speech and set aside her school-imposed probation.

Though MySpace users may welcome support for political speech, they're fuming about new restrictions that deny them the ability to embed video and remixes hosted by Photobucket on their MySpace pages.

A post on the official Photobucket blog condemns the restrictions as contrary to the expectations of personal and social media and asks users of the two services to make their feelings known. MySpace/Photobucket users have responded with a litany of disappointment.

"This isn't the first time that MySpace has done something to limit its users' creativity and self-expression," said someone posting under the name Doran. "Only a few weeks ago, they vastly reduced the character limit in comments, meaning you can now only leave very small and limited messages."

In January, MySpace temporarily blocked some third-party widgets from functioning within MySpace pages. The company attributed the issue to work on a security filter.

Among the dozens and dozens of negative, often abusive posts taking MySpace to task, many users say that thanks to the restrictions, they're now looking for another social networking service.

The possibility that MySpace might hinder interoperability with third-party Web services has been apparent for some time. Last October, Brad Greenspan, one of the people involved in the creation of Myspace.com who currently runs a MySpace competitor, filed a lawsuit charging News Corp., the parent company of MySpace, with unfair business practices.

A press release issued on behalf of Greenspan noted that "...the MySpace users that over the past couple of years have spent considerable time and effort uploading their video, photo, and other media to outside websites like Photobucket.com, Imageshack.us, and Slide.com, are now in imminent danger of losing the ability to use these services to manage and enhance their MySpace pages."

A Fox Interactive Media spokesperson explained that MySpace took action against Photobucket for violating the company's Terms of Service. Photobucket, the spokesperson said, encouraged its users to post ad-sponsored slideshows on MySpace. MySpace maintains that it does not block embedded software that abides by its Terms of Service.

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