At Dr. Val's blog "Getting Better" in a post entitled "How The Health Blogosphere Was Scammed", we learn that a blog aggregator company called Wellsphere promised to help bloggers better distribute their content, achieve higher recognition, etc. It sent out seductive, complementary letters made to appear as if done individually, and an invitation to submit content with the following onerous provision in the electronic fine print (only seen if a 'terms of service' link is clicked):
When you post your own copyrightable content on the Website or give Wellsphere permission to post your copyrightable content on the Website, you retain ownership of any copyright you claim to your submitted content. However, by posting your content or giving Wellsphere permission to post your content you automatically grant Wellsphere a royalty-free, paid-up, non-exclusive, worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual license to (i) use, make, sell, offer to sell, have made, and further sublicense any such User Materials, and (ii) reproduce, distribute, create derivative works of, publicly perform and publicly display the User Materials in any medium or format, whether now known or later developed…
In other words, you retain your copyright to your IP, except grant the company the ability to do anything they want with your material, with no reimbursement to you if they make money, and you also allow the company to distribute and sublicense your material to anyone they please, your copyright be damned.
One wonders if they would appreciate such 'fine print' in a patient informed consent form:
"During the surgery you retain ownership of your organs, but if we find one we like we reserve the right to sell it to someone else for their own use."
The company was then sold, and bloggers found themselves estranged from benefit and control of their own IP.
The following list of posts on this issue comes from Deliberate Ambiguity:
- Health bloggers bite back as Wellsphere sells on posts provided for free - a good summary post with links to other important blog posts
- How the health blogosphere was scammed - a great post with e-mails from Wellsphere and snippets from their ToS
- All is not Well(sphere) - a personal commentary from a blogger who feels they were scammed
- The Wellsphere blogging controversy - a great explanation of the psychology behind Wellsphere
- My email to Wellsphere and HealthCentral - an open letter to the companies expressing her concern with Wellsphere's program
- New Wellsphere badges - a blogger made some new badges for Wellsphere. I included one in this post.
- #wellsphere on Twitter - to follow the latest conversations. It tends to light up like a Christmas Tree.
Hedge funds, anyone? I know a good one that promises 12% returns every year, even in economic downturns, that uses a secret strategy for investing developed by some genius level programmers.