I’ll admit it. I’m intrigued by the idea that tons of people might read my blog on their little portable Kindle devices, now that Amazon.com generously offers to publish blogs (for free!). It’s a potent thought to consider how many new readers and untapped sources of potential income might just be waiting for a blog like mine. I feel like I’m channeling my inner Homer Simpson when I think about it – “MMMMMMM. Blog Readers.” (You know, instead of donuts.)
But it’s just like Amazon to make something incredibly seductive and yummy, only to put a few well-placed shards of glass right where you’ll take a big bite.
According to Internet attorney Mike Young, Amazon has included language in its Terms of Service agreement that gives it complete control over your blog content once you publish it on Kindle.
Really? Amazon thinks it can take a blogger’s hard work and use it, edit it and publish it without attribution or payment to the author? Apparently so. And if you’ve put your blog on Kindle, you may have unknowingly agreed to this.
I’m not an alarmist by nature, but this is something to sit up and take notice of. Remember, this is your intellectual property you’re giving away. As Mike states in this blog post, “If you’re running a non-profit blog where you’re looking for donors for your favorite charity, this could be a good fit because more readers equals more potential donors. However, if your blog is part of your business model, giving Amazon permission to . . . become your competitor using your own content may not make the most sense.”
Good point. Do you really want to compete with Amazon as they use your own words as weapons against you?
I may not be an alarmist, but I am pragmatic. If this is true, I wanted to read it for myself. So I emailed Mike and received a nice response from his assistant Jennifer, along with this link: https://kindlepublishing.amazon.com/vendor/members/kindle-blogs/static/terms-and-conditions.html with the instruction to pay particular attention to the “Grant of Rights” area. Here’s the part that got me:
5.5 Grant of Rights. You hereby grant to each Amazon party, throughout the term of this Agreement, a nonexclusive, worldwide right and license to distribute Publications as described herein, directly and through third-party distributors, in all digital formats by all digital distribution means available, such right to include, without limitation, the right to: (e) use, reproduce, adapt, modify, and create derivative works of and use and distribute, as we determine appropriate, in our sole discretion, any metadata that you provide in connection with Publications;
So, based on this, you publish your blog with Amazon at the risk of seeing your intellectual property elsewhere without your permission, any attribution and any recourse. I’m not certain that’s worth the risk to my business or my reputation.
The lesson for all of us is twofold:
- Be sure to read and understand the Terms of Service of any agreement (online or otherwise) you decide to enter into.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
I think I’ll wait to put my blog on Kindle. Until blog owners take a stand and confront such blatant thievery, Amazon will continue to do as it pleases with tacit agreement from the blogging community. If this means my blog isn’t exposed as much as it could be, I’m okay with that.
I’d also like to put a plug in for Mike Young (and I get nothing from this except warm fuzzies knowing I’m passing along a credible resource). Mike spends his days mucking around the Internet and championing for individuals and businesses that do business there. You can learn more about him at his website: http://mikeyounglaw.com/internet-lawyer/.