Beware the ToS Rights Grab of Headliner

This is just a warning folks….

This came to my attention recently, wordpress.com has integrated a new 3rd Party Service into its post blogging panel (you know, the panel that comes up after you publish a post). I wondered about it – ostensibly it looks like a great service, who wouldn’t want to promote their posts for free across a range of services? Who ever reads the terms of services anyway? Well perhaps you should, when you read the ToS (Terms of Service), they basically are taking the right to do anything they please with your content, no holds barred

section 5c)

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.

Nice. So they have your content forever to do with as they wish. I’m a little disappointed in WordPress.com & their choice of partners. This post isn’t knocking them, wordpress.com provide a great service and I love that its free (funded by the ads they put on your posts but thats ok, they have to make money somehow). This post is to raise awareness of what you are getting into with headliner in the tiny tiny print. According to the complaints on the forums you won’t even get the wordpress stats from traffic flowing through the posts you promote there. I sharn’t be clicking the link but here it is in red in my screenshot so you know what not to click:

headliner screenshot

UPDATE: Headliner.fm have ameded their TOS and commented on this post – please see here. I still have my concerns and don’t feel ready to use the service, see my reply here.

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29 thoughts on “Beware the ToS Rights Grab of Headliner

  1. Reblogged this on raincoaster media and commented:
    This is a truly ALARMING new “feature” of WordPress.com blogs. Suzy Walker-Toye gets right to the heart of the matter: by using this “service” you are giving up all rights to your own materials and allowing this commercial service to use and resell them as it pleases. As exhaustively discussed in this forum post, it will apparently read as SPAM to search engines and slaughter your blog’s search engine rankings. DO NOT ENABLE Headliner.fm.

  2. Thanks for highlighting this Suzy – we are all, generally, too busy to bother with the fine print, but with this sort of stuff around it is becoming increasingly important that we do bother.

  3. Saw the forum post – looks like nobody at WordPress.COM bothered to read the fine print – and does not really seem to care based on the posting by the staff – sort of sorry state of affairs when WordPress.COM pardners with a thief of your intellectual property and the only “advice” is “you don’t need to click on the link” – what a crock

  4. Reblogged this on WPcomMaven and commented:
    Getting the word out about your site and newly published posts is something that plagues bloggers, both new and old. WordPress.com offers several integrated ways to publicize new posts to your social networks as a part of the posting process. However, Headliner.fm, which appears as a promotional service in the optional “feedback and progress sidebar” after publishing a new post, is a “service” you’ll want to avoid. By using Headliner.fm, you effectively give up your copyrights and allow them to use your posts in any way Headliner.fm chooses, for free, forever. Thank you to acaphil02ph for making us aware of this by posting in the Community Forums and to Suzy Walker-Toye for amplifying it.

  5. Thanks. I did notice that when I checked it out, because as you said it seems like a great opportunity. I declined because the agreement it seemed like a bit much :)

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  7. Again, thanks for writing this up. I just edited my reblog to add that WordPress.com has updated the Publicize Support doc to include a note about sharing your content with other sites may subject your content to that other site’s Terms of Service, which may differ from those on WordPress.com. In Headliner.fm’s case, that’s an understatement.

  8. Hello everyone,

    Suzy, thank you for raising the issue of content ownership on Headliner. It is a fundamental concern we are happy to address.

    We agree that the legalese in our TOS can be a bit intimidating and we are updating it. You can see the updates here: https://headliner.fm/exchange/tos.html

    Under section 5) User Content, we are adding “You own all your content and you control how it is shared on Headliner”, and we are removing “sell” and “resell”. Because Headliner works with social networks like Facebook and Twitter, our TOS was drafted in sync with their TOS (https://twitter.com/tos, https://www.facebook.com/legal/terms).

    Headliner is an opt-in community that strives to be transparent and give members as much control over their experience as possible. Our goal is to help you share your content, not to own it. Because we are a cross-promotion platform, we remind members daily to make sure they let people know that the content is theirs by including their names in their share requests. Many of us on the Headliner team are content creators as well, and we understand personally the need to protect one’s content.

    In keeping with our philosophy, we do not host uploads of content (with the exception of avatars, at the community’s request). Instead, we partner with communities like SoundCloud, Vimeo, and WordPress should members wish to link their content to their Headliner profiles (which are private since we do not have public-facing member pages). Linking your content to your Headliner profile has never been required, and it never will be. Additionally, there is never a need to share anything you don’t like, and we encourage our community to be selective and responsive.

    In short: It’s your content, and we are here to help you get your content viewed by new people.

    Thanks again for reaching out, and opening up the topic for discussion. If there’s anything else we can do to help, please let us know.

    All the best,

    Jorge and everyone at Headliner

    Jorge Hernandez
    Communications Director
    Headliner.fm

  9. Hi Jorge

    Thank you for replying. I’m glad you’ve amended your TOS, although I’m not sure I buy the reason re Twitter and facebook TOS because they arnt that bad (anymore). Yours are much better now you’ve removed selling & reselling but still not great. I don’t think you really need the ‘perpetual’,’make derivative works’, ‘archive, store, cache or otherwise exploit in any manner whatsoever’. I’m not a lawyer, but it kind of sounds really dodgy, like content scrapers, where you cannot delete your content (even Facebook is explicit in allowing you to delete content and what happens if its been shared). The thing I don’t get from reading about your service is why you need to store, cashe etc anything at all? It seems from your website blurb like you are using the original content hosts (such as wordpress, facebook etc) to store to content and acting as a popularity and redistribution service? That may be my misunderstanding but thats how it reads?

    Also, you didn’t address the concerns of the user in the forum post I linked to, where she shared something from wordpress in your service and no stats were available on that post any longer?

    Many thanks
    Suzy

  10. Thanks, I was just in process of this and then saw this and exited out. I paid for the .com at the end and do expect better. Thanks for sharing and I know I’ll start reading fine print better. AMcE, SolarLightingSmart.com

  11. Thanks for posting this. There are two things that bother me about the service. First, the way the service is presented makes it seem like a part of WordPress–the promotion invitation appears in the WordPress interface and the terms-of-use link in the ‘authorize’ pop-up window leads to the TOS of WordPress (and not Headliner’s). The intention seems to be to lure (deceive?) unsuspecting bloggers into signing up with a questionable service. Second, Headliner’s terms of use (once you find them) are like Facebook’s in that they allow the company to grab rights to your content that go far above and beyond what is necessary to provide the service.

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  14. Right. I was invited to join Headliner today, but decided to do some research first. They need to COMPLETELY ELIMINATE clause “C” in Their Terms of Service! It’s a really long sentence, but can be edited down to: “You grant HEADLINER the right to exploit all of your User Content.”

    Why is that necessary, and what does it have to do with their service to help one get exposure? So, they can do whatever they want with anything you write or create, and they don’t have to pay you a cent.

    No!

  15. Hi everyone,

    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. There are plenty of examples on our site and blog explaining in detail how the service works.

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

    Kind regards,
    Jorge

  16. hey suzy walker thanks for posting this! i was considering promoting my blog with headliner but when I clicked on “permissions granted” first, I was a little freaked out and you have confirmed my suspicions :)

  17. Thank you for this. I was about to sign up but I’m always extremely suspicious when I get offered an apparently incredibly useful service FOR FREE. Quick Google search and I found your post. Bye bye Headliner.

  18. Good eye suzy! I clicked it and before signing up I smelled something fishy (a pun for your underwater photography) and one stroll through the Tos left me feeling not so confident. After Google searching “do you own content uploaded to headliner” I found your article. Maybe I will let other bloggers take the risk before I decide if it is safe or not, but it just seems like one big red flag honestly.

  19. Thank you so much for the warning! I thought the Headliner thing seemed a little fishy, so I did a little research and stumbled upon your post. I appreciate your help!

  20. Was just about to sign up to for Headliner when I read the TOS. That whole thing about what they can do with my content made me start doing some Googling. Found your post and the concerns you raised. Saw Jorge’s responses, but noticed that he carefully avoided directly addressing Claue C. Sounds like a useful service…if they delete that clause. Until then, Jorge, you won’t see me, or anyone with an iota of common sense, using your service. And thanks, Suzy, for providing this forum.

  21. Hey there,
    I’m just letting you know about the name change. “CoPromote (formerly headliner.fm) is a social exchange platform to help people grow their audience.”

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