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This is intended for those who use Hotmail and/or MSN Messenger.

In view of the fact that most users click next when faced with the daunting prospect of reading through miles of Terms and Conditions documents when signing up for email addresses, Instant messaging services and the like, I felt that I should draw your attention to some clauses in the Microsoft Passport Terms of Use. The clauses are intended to inform the end user that the rights to all your correspondence belongs to none other than Microsoft. It also ensures that your definition of confidentiality includes a clause about sharing your data with Microsoft and unnamed third parties.

"By posting messages, uploading files, inputting data, submitting any feedback or suggestions, or engaging in any other form of communication with or through the Passport Web Site ... you are granting Microsoft and its affiliated companies permission to: 1. Use, modify, copy, distribute, transmit, publicly display, publicly perform, reproduce, publish, sublicense, create derivative works from, transfer, or sell any such communication.

2. Sublicense to third parties the unrestricted right to exercise any of the foregoing rights granted with respect to the communication.

3. Publish your name in connection with any such communication".

With reference to any concepts, ideas, creative content and other material that is normally protected under international laws dealing with Intellectual Property Rights, here is what Microsoft have to say to ensure you agree to waive your rights:

The foregoing grants shall include the right to exploit any proprietary rights in such communication, including but not limited to rights under copyright, trademark, service mark or patent laws under any relevant jurisdiction. No compensation will be paid with respect to Microsoft's use of the materials contained within such communication.

The implications of this are severe but at the same time, one wonders whether Microsoft would really go through the millions of emails and instant messaging that zip around the internet daily. On the other hand, the possibility of forfeiting your right to own an idea by virtue of having discussed it over an innocent email should make us think twice before dismissing fine print with a hurried stab at the "next" button.

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