UPDATED 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…
… 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!