Writing4all.ie

Eoin Purcell

UPDATE: Writing4all.ie have now updated their terms and conditions and I believe that the terms i referenced in this post have been erased. I am happy to say that they have been much more specific in their language. The ownership clause now reads:

You own your User Content, not us. User Content is defined as text, pictures, video, sound and other files legally posted by you on the Site. You grant the Company and its affiliates a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free right to display your User Content (in whole or in part) on the Site or on site affiliates that bear the Writing4all name – Facebook, Twitter. You also grant each user of the Site the right to access, display, view, store and reproduce such your User Content for personal use. You represent and warrant to the Company that you have the right to grant the licenses stated above.

This is a huge improvement!
Eoin

On the face of it, Writing4all.ie seems a nice idea, a place for Irish writers to share, collaborate and build community:

Welcome Guest! You’re viewing these pages as a guest. To be able to add or comment on works please join or login. Writing4all.ie is an online writing community and resource centre for Irish writers. Share your creative writing with others and get instant feedback and constructive criticism.

Our writing resources give you all the latest news on writing courses, writing groups, book launches and workshops in your area. Read the latest news in our blog or discuss books and the world of literature in our lively forums.

Free memberships are available to all and we welcome poetry, fiction, non-fiction and drama. Members can enter our regular poetry, fiction and non-fiction competitions and contests.

Sounds very nice and indeed, if that was it I would be fine with it. But it’s not it. When you read through the site terms and conditions you find this gem (emphasis mine):

You own your User Content, not us. You grant the Company and its affiliates a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free right and license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, publicly perform and publicly display your User Content (in whole or in part) and/or to incorporate such your User Content in other works in any form, media, or technology now known or later developed.

What this means is that if you upload writing to the site, Original Writing, the owner of Writing4all.ie and a self-publisher company I have discussed here before, can publish that work without any need to pay you a royalty or even consulting you as far as I can tell. Those are some pretty extravagant permissions!

Most other sites will specify these permissions for the extra content you provide but not the creative writing you upload. The basic problem is that the terms makes no allowances for separating the content that you create on the site and the creative work you upload TO the site. If they made this differentiation clearer and excluded the creative content from the terms above I believe the terms would be much fairer. If you doubt that, read the definition of user content:

You are solely responsible for any activity and content (including, without limitation, data, text, information, screen names, graphics, photos, profiles, audio and video clips, and links to third-party content) that is posted under your screen names (collectively, “User Content”).

It is possible of course that this isn’t intentional and that the terms are simply sloppily drafted but there is much to be wary of here. At the very least the terms as set out need revision and extra definition, not a situation you should allow your content to get trapped in.
Eoin

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8 comments

  1. Thanks for this Eoin! It’s interesting to see your take on it. I visited the site a few months back, was very interested, then cooled off when I read the terms…however, I sometimes wonder when I’m just being too cautious or suspicious, and a second (wiser/more experienced) opinion always helps.

  2. They need to spell it out more. I’m sure that clause is meant to allow the site content to propagate via search engine hits, RSS, Twitter, whatever is linked to it via the Internet. If they specified what they meant — at least in terms of principles and examples — it would help prevent misunderstandings.

  3. Steer very clear of any clauses like this! It is at least a non-exclusive licence to use the work but it is wide sweeping and vague. Authors need to be aware of what they are signing up to and how that may restrict their right to exploit their work in the future. The second clause you refer to is to avoid them being sued for libel, illicit content (without permission), etc.

    I would agree that it’s probably the result of sloppy plagiarism.

  4. Hi Guys,

    I noticed your discussion on w4all and felt compelled to clear this up -

    Firstly, we have to take responsibility for sloppy drafting of terms. Incidentally I would avoid an assertion of ‘plagiarism’ unless you have proof, in which case I’d love to see it.

    Despite what our admittedly vague and definitely unsuitable terms state:

    We have no intention of republishing any work submitted by our authors. We do however wish to propagate site content via search engines, RSS, Twitter and Facebook.

    Our terms are currently being rewritten and when they are completed I will alert you Eoin. Thank you for drawing attention to the terms and conditions which were very carelessly constructed and do not reflect the ethos here at w4all.

    Please feel free to contact me with any queries or suggestions: eiemar@writing4all.ie

    PLEASE DO POST ON Wrinting4all

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