I thought that I would open a discussion on exactly who owns content published on the internet. As we are preparing for a business launch, I'm reviewing several aspects of how we're using the materials on our website. In going through this process I've spoken with a trademark/copyright lawyer. I have also been reviewing several production streams including video, podcast, and a written blog.
Hypothetically (wink, wink) I have a publication service that says that I can use their platform totally free. Knowing that I need to keep a tight watch on my budget and need a simple quick solution, I'll take a look at link provided by …...
So, I get my free account, use my phone as direct input into this free account, and publish. Next, I use that third-party widget to insert the content onto my website. Heck, I even made a YouTube, Vimeo, ScreenCast, and Facebook video to talk about my new (blog, podcast, video channel)!
When I look at my website statistics I see very few visits to my actual website. However, upon inspection of traffic statistics at the third-party place I see that I'm getting a ton of traffic. When I look at the presentation on that third-party service I see that my application is covered with advertisements on YouTube Vimeo, and Facebook. The third party service has monetized my content, even edited it and I get no revenue/no control. When I made the videos I advertised for them! So I asked, “What the *$%^#@@$@# is going on here?” Did I mention when I asked the question why there was no path to revenue sharing that all my access was yanked and they kept the content?
Let's take a close look at the license agreement into which I entered. I XXXXXed out the name of the service but you will see that it is standard verbiage or almost any third-party syndication platform.
By submitting User Content through the Services, you hereby do and shall grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, perpetual, irrevocable, royalty-free, fully paid, sublicensable and transferable license to use, edit, modify (including the right to create derivative works of), aggregate, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, perform, and otherwise fully exploit the User Content in connection with the operation of the the Services, the promotion, advertising or marketing of the Services, or any other purposes.
You agree that this license includes the right for XXXXXXXXXXX to provide, promote, and improve the Services and to make User Content submitted to or through the Services available to other companies, organizations or individuals who partner with XXXXXXXXXXX for the syndication, broadcast, distribution or publication of such User Content on other media and services, subject to our terms and conditions for such User Content use.
Such additional uses by XXXXXXXXXXX, or other companies, organizations or individuals who partner with XXXXXXXXXXX, may be made with no compensation paid to you with respect to the User Content that you submit, post, transmit or otherwise make available through the Services. Such license shall survive the termination of your Account or the Services. For the avoidance of doubt, such license includes any and all rights in or to the User Content, including, without limitation, copyright, rights of privacy or rights of publicity.
You also hereby do and shall grant each user of the Services a non-exclusive, perpetual license to access your User Content through the Services, and to use, edit, modify (including the right to create derivative works of), reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display and perform such User Content in connection with any use of the Services by any user of the Services. Such license shall survive the termination of your Account or the Services.
You acknowledge and agree that any questions, comments, suggestions, ideas, feedback or other information about the Services (“Submissions”), provided by you to us are non-confidential and we will be entitled to the unrestricted use and dissemination of these Submissions for any purpose, commercial or otherwise, without acknowledgment or compensation to you.
For clarity, the foregoing license grants to us and our users does not affect your other ownership or license rights in your User Content, including the right to grant additional licenses to your User Content, unless otherwise agreed in writing. You represent and warrant that you have all rights to grant such licenses to us without infringement or violation of any third party rights, including without limitation, any privacy rights, publicity rights, copyrights, trademarks, contract rights, or any other intellectual property or proprietary rights.
If you read closely you just signed away all of your copyright protection, trademark protection, and all of your ownership. When you publish on this platform you just gave it to them, with an emphasis on the word gave. Your content is no longer yours.
For many that if you are a new small business owner, an entrepreneur, or even a relatively new website developer there is a key lesson here. “The details of how your website interacts with the rest of the internet is a very key consideration in your business.” If you depend upon a third party provider to become the custodian of your content to your exclusion, you may find yourself in a bit of a quandry.
Ask anyone who has had their monetizaion of Google-related services changed. You can pretty much expect people to abuse the heck out of free services and that’s why Google often has to change an algorithm. That’s true of much of the “big internet.” When this happens, good businesses often suffer.
My basic guideline is always publish to your own website first. This is certainly not the end all and perfect solution but it's a place to start.
- On your blog post make sure that you insert a copyright and authorship.
- If you are creating a video or audio file within the file properties be sure to claim your copyright, ownership, publication title, and other original publication tags.
- If your business outsources any content development ALWAYS explore the Ownership of Content. Ask your web developer about their use of free 3rd party services and check them out for yourself. By the way, this also helps with your search engine optimization for your target audience to find your content.
As the popularity of your material increases keep in mind that others are going to want to share and use your publications. Isn’t that the point?. This will be a total discussion for another post. Keep in mind though, learning the skill of “how to share” is incredibly beneficial in today's Internet Property Management. So much to learn!