I’m a mercenary. I want to be paid to do things, and I’ll do a number of things to get paid.
One of the things I do is write content for various online sites. A lot of them are kind of wonky in how you get paid – page views, sales through Amazon affiliate links, all that kind of good stuff.
I thought I might add to my current sites, so I wandered around the interwebs, and I came across “Vocal.”
Interesting place, I thought. There seem to be a lot of users and a lot of user generated content. It seems to be good content, too. Stuff that will draw in readers.
Maybe I should sign up!
But then…I did what you should do. I read the fine print.
“You retain ownership of the intellectual property rights in your User Content, subject to the license you grant to the Company below and elsewhere in these Terms of Service.
By transmitting User Content on or through the Services, you grant the Company a nonexclusive, perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, fully paid, assignable, transferable, sublicensable license to use, reproduce, store, modify, edit (e.g., fixing typos, making editorial changes), truncate, aggregate, display, perform, distribute, prepare derivative works based on, and transmit such User Content, in any medium that now exists or may arise in the future, and otherwise exploit your User Content (including, but not limited to, use of your name in association with your User Content to identify you as the “Creator”) in connection with the Services and the Company’s (and our successors’ and assigns’) businesses, including after your termination of your account or the Services, and you waive any and all moral rights and publicity rights in such User Content. You represent that you have all of the necessary rights to grant this license to the Company for all of your User Content, and that such license is granted 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. You agree that this license includes the right for other users of the Services to access and use your User Content, subject to our terms and conditions regarding such use and the right for the Company to allow its third party business partners (including social media services) to use your User Content and that this license has no restriction as to the medium, dissemination method, type of services the Company or its business partners may offer, or the type of systems or products that may be used in conjunction with your User Content.”
What does that mean?
You might “own” your content, but they can do whatever they feel like with it forever and ever, amen.
Well, at least they pay me, right?
“You may be paid for user engagement with certain User Content that you submit to the Site. The Company determines amounts payable to users derived from User Content based on proprietary algorithms developed by the Company and subject to change in the Company’s sole discretion, without notice to the User. Generally, the algorithms measure and assign weight to such user engagement metrics as popularity of the content with visitors as measured by number of unique visitors; visitors’ interaction with the content; amount of time spent by visitors on the page; and shares on social media. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Company reserves the right to modify its algorithm at any time, which may result in decreased revenue to users for similar content, and to suspend monetization program altogether.”
So, let’s review, shall we?
You own your work, but they can use it as much as they want, however they want, in perpetuity, and you have no say over any of it.
That sounds fair.
And you get paid, but they figure out how much they pay you, unless they decide to stop paying you, and they can’t actually tell you exactly how they figure out how much they pay you.
Another totally fair aspect of writing for them.
Now, maybe I’m being harsh, and maybe you think that you’re digging this place and going to write for them.
Clearly, this one is not right for me: I don’t want people to use my stuff ad infinitum without having to pay me or get my approval to change and use, and I really don’t want them to stop paying me just because they don’t want to pay me.
But if you like them? Cool.
I will never tell someone that they should only write for money or that they should only write for free. As a writer, it is up to you to decide what you want for what you do. You have your reasons, and I’ll stay in my lane and let you make your own decisions.
But. Please. Read. The. Fine. Print.