Read the Terms of Service (TOS)

Hi Folks,

First, everything you write, including blog posts, is automatically protected by copyright the instant it’s “in fixed form.” You don’t have to register your copyright. It’s there whether or not you choose to register it. In other words, the instant your short story, novel, novella, essay, memoir or blog post (or any other writing) is finished, it’s protected by copyright.

If you use or are thinking about using the free (or paid) to host your website, read the Terms of Service. Specifically, scroll down to “License” under and Section 7.a., 7.b. and 7.c.

Each section reads in part “you grant Automattic a world-wide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license….” That’s pretty common. In other words you’re giving the rights they need to display what you put up. And of course, that’s all right. It only makes sense.

The troublesome part comes later in each paragraph under License. Under 7.a., “You also give other users permission to share your Content on other websites and add their own Content to it (aka to “reblog” your Content)…” (emphasis added).

Under 7.b. “By submitting Content to Automattic for inclusion on your website, you grant Automattic a world-wide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, modify, adapt, and publish the Content solely for the purpose of displaying, distributing, and promoting your website” (again, emphasis added).

And under 7.c. “You also grant us a worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to copy and store your VaultPress Content, to the extent necessary to operate the VaultPress service. These Terms don’t give us any rights in your VaultPress Content, beyond those we need to operate VaultPress. You own your VaultPress Content.”

I find this frightening. Notice that the third set of Terms “don’t give us any rights in your VaultPress Content, beyond those we need to operate VaultPress.” That statement is missing from the first two instances of License.

I haven’t read all of the terms of service for all of the organizations that offer free website hosting, but I’d bet money they’re similar when it comes to right grabbing.

For just one example, should you choose to go with (a Google company), click and scroll down to “Your Content in our Services.” Read carefully.

Be careful out there, folks.

As I have before, I will always recommend avoiding “free” hosting sites specifically because of their terms of service. There really is no free lunch.

Instead, invest in yourself and protect your work. Go with a paid hosting site, set up an account, and do a one-click installation of WordPress.ORG (not .com).

‘Til next time, happy writing!


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