Patreon Rights Grab?

I got a disturbing email from one of the other authors I follow, Holly Lisle, this morning, concerning Patreon.

We all know Patreon, right? It gives people the ability to give some amount of money to creators (musicians, artists, writers, etc.) they like to help them continue to be able to make creative content. I made a page myself some time ago, though I have been very bad at it.

So Holly, in her email, said she was cancelling her Patreon because of some troubling wording in the Terms of Use.

The wording is:

“By posting content to Patreon you grant us a royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive, sublicensable, worldwide license to use, reproduce, distribute, perform, publicly display or prepare derivative works of your content. The purpose of this license is to allow us to operate Patreon, promote Patreon and promote your content on Patreon. We are not trying to steal your content or use it in an exploitative way.”

While Patreon says in other places that 100% of your content is owned by you, and it doesn’t use it, the fact that this wording exists (and there’s no way for a creator to take permission away from Patreon if they change their minds in the future) is problematic.

There’s more on this here.

I do have some questions. How long has this wording been there? Is it as bad as it sounds? I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV.

But I did think I would cancel my page until I had a better idea of what this means, and it turns out that it’s not live anyway. Har. Apparently I went to edit it at some point and did not publish the changes, and so it’s just sitting in some weird limbo.

(Good job, Kit.)

But, anyway, I thought I’d put this out there, in case other people have Patreons and would also like to think about what this means for them.

Aside from that, I hope everyone is having a pretty good Thursday.

2 responses to this post.

  1. This isn’t surprising. I don’t use Patreon, but Facebook is the same way. If you post something on Facebook, they own it. That’s how these sites work. They don’t make their own content, they exploit user generated content. And it is important for the host to have rights to the content posted on their system, so they can broadcast it, share it, advertise it, archive it. There’s a lot that FB does with your content that isn’t you pressing a share or boost button. The “content” noted here is only what you post on the site. They don’t get rights to something you link to, only to the link. So they don’t own your book, if you link your book for sale. But if you post a sample on FB or Patreon, they get full rights to that. Social media cannot function any other way. Otherwise, every single post would require a contract. So just be aware of what you are actually posting on Patreon. Don’t post the actual text or images of things you wish to retain exclusive rights to.

    Reply

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