Xtra is defending its use of content copied from a rose enthusiast's website, saying it's had an agreement with the owner of the site for three years.
As reported in Aardvark on Friday, Maggie Burnett's amateur enthusiast's website has created something of a stir after she realised Xtra was not simply linking to her site as she expected but had instead copied all the content over to XtraMSN.
"I felt a bit silly really, I thought we were all in this together, all on the same side."
Burnett says she realised her arrangement with Xtra wasn't bringing in the traffic she'd hoped, in fact wasn't bringing in any traffic, only after Xtra sent her a contract to sign earlier this year.
"I just felt I would be losing control if I signed the contract so I said no."
Xtra's legal representative Angela Dutton says Burnett was presented with a contract earlier this year as part of a company-wide move away from verbal agreements with content providers.
"We've had an arrangement in place for three years with [Burnett] based on a verbal agreement we had with her. Our portal managers are currently seeking to put in written contracts because of the changing nature of our site," says Dutton.
Xtra is providing content for a number of different devices these days, not just the PC, and that requires a firming up of content agreements. Dutton stresses that Xtra did not copy Burnett's content without her approval, however Burnett is also adamant that she never intended to give Xtra the right to re-publish her content.
"I should have looked more closely at it but I didn't think of it as a commercial agreement, more a sort of understanding," says Burnett.
Dutton says the introduction of a new clause in Xtra's terms and conditions is entirely unrelated with Burnett's content. As Computerworld Online reported last week, Xtra's new terms and conditions have caused concern among users and legal experts in New Zealand.
"It's an entirely separate matter - we have relationships with suppliers on one side and customers on the other. [Burnett] is at the supplier's side of the equation while the terms and conditions are at the customers' end."
Dutton says the terms have been written in such a way as to avoid massive amounts of duplication across all of Xtra's services.
"We have a multitude of services and we want to be sure the customer has read the terms and conditions as they apply to them. If we had separate terms for each service you would have a situation where a customer would have to read the Telecom terms of service, the Xtra terms of service, terms for XtraMail, for the anti-virus service, for the spam policy and so on."
Dutton says Xtra has deliberately moved away from having multiple terms and conditions for just this reason.