Beware the ToS Rights Grab of Headliner

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.

Update 2013/10/10: WordPress.com has updated the Support Doc on “Publicize” to include the following (under “Additional Information”):

A note about Terms of Service Sharing your post to another online service, via Publicize, may subject your shared content that other service’s terms of use. Many other online services have terms of use or content guidelines that differ from our WordPress.com Terms of Service. Often, these terms give the service rights in user published content that are greater than the rights we (Automattic) have in content published to WordPress.com.

But still no mention on that page of an official partnership or integration with Headliner.fm.

Further Update 2013/10/10: The forum thread, which was closed by Staff when Community members began to voice their concerns regarding Headliner.fm’s ToS, has just been reopened in order to allow a representative of Headliner.fm to respond. However, as far as I can tell, there’s been no change in the Terms of Service as they appear on Headliner.fm’s website.

And another Update 2013/10/11: Interesting to note that WordPress.com has changed the wording in the feedback and progress sidebar since Suzy published her above post to read “Reach 1000s of new people on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and more — for free using Headliner.fm.” So there’s been a move to be more transparent about which “service” is being used, and that is a good thing. However, still no real change in Headliner’s TOS.

Memoirs of an Underwater Photographer

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

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7 thoughts on “Beware the ToS Rights Grab of Headliner

  1. I really don’t understand your stand on this. Are you saying I should discard the appetising free promotion headliner.fm is offering? By using headliner.fm, what are the possible damages it might be causing my blog.

    1. What I’m saying is that before you sign up with any 3rd party, external promotional service, you need to be aware of their Terms of Service and accept them. The way that WordPress.com originally presented the service made it seem like Headliner.fm was part of WordPress.com and under WPcom’s Terms of Service. It is not.

  2. When headliner fm connect with my Twitter Account directly i feel suspicious with this tool or application,so I don’t use it any more on my Twitter Account.

    1. I’m a bit skeptical here. Headliner cannot connect itself to your twitter account without you having given it permission to do so. Hopefully you were able to revoke any permissions you gave them.

      Frankly, I find it highly unlikely I’d trust any website that doesn’t have a direct link to their privacy policy or terms of service from the front page of their website. Currently with Headliner, you have to click the “log in” button and then click through their register page (without registering) until you actually land on a page where those links are at the very, very bottom of the page. This does not build trust. Be transparent with your users at the very least.

  3. Hello everyone

    Headliner does not host content uploads. All we do is share status updates that members themselves write and approve. Your content must be uploaded elsewhere, and the message you choose to request be shared must link to that content. Each member on Headliner decides for themselves if your message is something they want to post on their Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr. In order for us to match members on those networks they must connect those networks and create a request. When you connect networks to us, you go through the normal connection process which is determined by the social networks. In order for our product to be on good terms with them, our TOS has to be in sync. After people raised concerns about copyright issues, we amended our TOS to explicitly state that you own your content and control how it is shared on Headliner.

    There are plenty of examples, press reviews, and additional information on our blog, user guide and in our FAQs.
    http://blog.headliner.fm/user-guide/faqs/
    https://headliner.fm/exchange/tos.html

    Feel free to reach out with any questions.

    All the best,

    Jorge / Community Director

    1. Thanks for commenting, Jorge. With all due respect, even with all your best intentions to leave an encouraging comment on every thread and post that discusses this issue, I still do not see any change to headliner’s ToS under Point 5/C. It is still exactly the same as when this first broke in the WPcom community forums some months ago. Under this point, when someone uses headliner’s service, they effectively sign away their copyright.

      The additional objection raised by WordPress.com community members was the fact that the headliner service was originally offered to users in such a manner that made it seem to be integrated with WordPress.com. At least now the offer to “amplify” one’s post clearly indicates that it is via a 3rd party service.

      And, as I have stated here and others have elsewhere, read the Terms of Service first before signing up with any service. Headliner.fm does not make that easy to do at all. See my earlier comment to perahucadik.

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