Recently I was invited to join Top Buzz, and my interest lasted until I read the terms of service. This particular TOS is a great example of why you must always read what you’re signing on for; most especially when you are a content creator.
Contracts are where creatives and makers usually lose their shorts.
Contract language is designed to be boring, not only to get in all the details, but also to bore you into skimming rather than reading for comprehension.
The first paragraph starts pretty positively:
“You or the owner of your User Content will own the copyright in the content sent to us,
Well alrighty then! Good news! Respect!
And then there was a but.
but by submitting content to us, you hereby grant us an unconditional irrevocable, non-exclusive, royalty-free, fully transferable, assignable, sub-licensable, perpetual worldwide licence
When you give us your stuff you give us permission to do whatever we want without paying you a dime. We can sell it to other people or give it away (as if!), and we can give them permission to use it any way they want forever and ever all over the world and you can’t take it back or change your mind. Not even if you say please.
And look what else we can do!
to use, modify, translate, adapt, reproduce, make derivative works of, publish and/or transmit,
We can change it, translate it, copy it, cut it up and use it to make other things …
And it keeps going …
and to authorise others user of the Services and other third-parties to view, access, use, modify, translate, adapt, reproduce, make derivative works of, publish and/or transmit your User Content in connection with the Services and Bytedance (and Bytedance’s successors’ and affiliates’) business, including but not limited to advertise, market and promote and redistribute part or all of the Services (and derivative works thereof) in any formats and through any channels. …. “
I’m not completely sure what an “others user” is but lets figure they meant other users or others’ use.
What This All Means For You:
So now you’ve given permission not only to Bytedance, but to their creepy Uncle Ted, drunk Aunt Tammy and all their friends to look at, change, use, copy, publish, or pretty much do anything they want with absolutely no financial benefit or intellectual credit given to you and you can’t say a word because you gave it all away so that they can use it to sell, promote, advertise, republish and make all the money themselves.
I feel dirty just reading it.
Now it’s easy to think ‘Oh well, nothing I do will ever go viral and just knowing it’s mine is enough.’
That’s easy to say right now…. but if someone does end up making a lot of money off of your idea, image, words, or art and getting all the credit, how are you really going to feel? What about when you don’t have a job, or have a sick kid, or would really like to have that example in your portfolio to prove what you can do?
That’s something to think about.
By extension, I hope you take this example as a warning to make time to read contracts and agreements. Also be aware that the more a salesman doesn’t want you to take time to read, the slower you should go.