A Blogging Gotcha You Need To Know About

CopyrightSoldUPDATED October 14, 2013 – Paragraph added to this story. See last paragraph.

Bloggers are generous people. We share knowledge and expertise freely and we promote each other’s sites. But the one thing we’re all pretty particular about is retaining ownership of our work. I’m writing today about a free service that appears to jeopardize your copyright. I’m talking about Headliner.

Headliner offers promotional services for Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and WordPress, as well as a special service specific to musicians (which was reviewed by Brian Hazard and includes many interesting comments as well as a response from Headliner). My biggest concern, though, is for bloggers, especially those of us on WordPress because the offer is presented in a way that makes it look like an official offer from our host. It looks innocuous enough…

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… but a detailed reading of Headliner’s terms of service show this to be a mighty expensive free offer. There’s nothing illegal about it, and it’s not even hidden. It’s clearly stated in the terms of service. Here is the gotcha paragraph (I added red for emphasis):

You grant to HEADLINER the unrestricted, unconditional, unlimited, worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual fully-paid and royalty-free right and license to host, use, copy, distribute, reproduce, disclose, sell, resell, sublicense, display, perform, transmit, publish, broadcast, modify, make derivative works from, retitle, reformat, translate, archive, store, cache or otherwise exploit in any manner whatsoever, all or any portion of your User Content to which you have contributed, for any purpose whatsoever, in any and all formats; on or through any and all media, software, formula or medium now known or hereafter known; and with any technology or devices now known or hereafter developed and to advertise, market and promote same.

YIKES!!! This has to be the poster child for why we all need to read terms of service before engaging any supplier.

I have never used Headliner’s services so I can’t comment on its effectiveness. My concern lies with giving away content rights.

A big thank you goes to Raincoaster Media and Suzy Walker-Toye for warning us about Headliner’s ToS on WordPress. I recommend both their posts — they contain screen shots of the offer and further info to deepen our understanding of the problem.

Practice safe blogging. Don’t relinquish control of your creative work.

UPDATE October 14, 2013 – Headliner has decided to change the Terms of Service.  Paragraph 5 of the ToS now contains this header: You own all your content and you control how it is shared on Headliner. In section c they have removed any reference to their ability to sell or resell the work. Thank you for listening, Headliner!


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18 Replies to “A Blogging Gotcha You Need To Know About”

  1. This paragraph is still in their Terms of Service as of today:

    c) You grant to HEADLINER the unrestricted, unconditional, unlimited, worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual fully-paid and royalty-free right and license to host, use, copy, distribute, reproduce, disclose, sublicense, display, perform, transmit, publish, broadcast, modify, make derivative works from, retitle, reformat, translate, archive, store, cache or otherwise exploit in any manner whatsoever, all or any portion of your User Content to which you have contributed, for any purpose whatsoever, in any and all formats; on or through any and all media, software, formula or medium now known or hereafter known; and with any technology or devices now known or hereafter developed and to advertise, market and promote same.

    See https://headliner.fm/exchange/tos.html

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    1. Hi Oliver,

      They need this permission in order to publish the marketing comments that users decide to share through the Headliner system. The part they removed said they could sell or resell any work contributed by a user. And they added a line clarifying that the user retains ownership of their work.

      I tested the system myself once these changes were made. I wrote a social media comment containing a link to one of my blog posts. They matched my comment with one of their users. He agreed to post my comment on his social sites. In return, I was offered the opportunity to do the same.

      Headliner’s terms of service now mirrors that of other social media sites.

      Thank you for stopping by and for taking the time to point out the wording. I’d love to know what you think about the terms now.

      Like

  2. Hi everyone,

    The easiest way to think of Headliner is as a status update exchange. Every member writes their own copy, chooses their own links to share, and the content must be uploaded elsewhere already, since Headliner does not host uploads.

    What Headliner does is submit your message as you wrote it to our community and ask, “Would you like to share this post on your social networks?” It’s an entirely opt-in community, and we actively encourage people to be selective of the posts they share. When someone does agree to share a post, we provide the metrics for members to engage with each other and their followers directly.

    We have partnerships with SoundCloud, Vimeo and WordPress in case Headliner members would like to add those links to their profiles on Headliner. This is not required and we do not post to those networks.

    Our terms are written in sync with the social networks’ because that’s where we post the status updates so we have to chose from the options they give us and we need to be in good standing with them for the product to work.

    Thanks again for the discussion and the opportunity to reply. We’d be happy to help anyone individually, and we are always open to suggestions. However you choose to share your content, we sincerely wish everyone success!

    Kind regards,

    Jorge

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    1. Hi Jorge,

      Thanks for returning and offering further clarification. As you can see we don’t really understand how Headliner works. I appreciate the change to the terms Headliner made — I opened an account just now so I can try it out for myself. I’m using Headliner to promote my most recent post and I selected a message from a musician that I’ll cross promote on Twitter.

      I’ll follow up with a post on this blog to outline the experience first hand.

      Thanks again for returning and for leaving a comment,
      Susan.

      Like

      1. Hi Susan,

        We’re happy to help. We are also working on updating the copy on our site and user flow to make things clearer, so we’ll have an update on that soon. Thanks again to everyone for helping us realize things needed to be clarified.

        Best,

        Jorge

        Like

      1. Well, that’s the beauty of the internet. We can get the information we need to make decisions…. ha ha ha ha ha 🙂

        But for some people in this world, even if the got the information they needed to make a decision… They can never be allowed to do so!

        Thanks for taking the time to reply 🙂

        Like

  3. So the question is, Susan would you recommend Headliner now? I was about to click ‘authorize’ on their site and then read the terms of service. So I googled ‘ is headliner safe?’ and stumbled upon your blog. Sure I’d love more readership, but not at the cost of someone else controlling my blog, including comments and such. What do you think?

    Like

    1. Hi Christine,

      Thanks for asking this question. So now that they’ve rescinded the copyright grab, would I use the service?

      It seems sneaky to post updates written by others but presented as if composed by a friend. If I understand the system correctly, they’re counting on exploiting the trust factor that exists within personal networks. And I believe you would be asked to do the same on your personal networks.

      It’s not the right method for me. If you decide to try it out I’d love to know what you think.

      Thanks so much for stopping by. Sending warm greetings to you from Vancouver.
      Susan

      Like

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