Thanks to an alert Hypebot reader, new artist centered music community ReverbNation is changing it's usage agreement before it's official launch. Earlier this week Hypebot wrote a deservedly glowing report on ReverbNation and their efforts to create an artist empowering music community. But one Hypebot reader using the name "Free" took exception to ReverbNation's usage agreement. He wrote:
"the biggest FREE in this case appears to be the FREE usage eminor gets of artists (and fans) work for whatever purposes deemed fit, with no obligation to make any payment, and no way for users to ever opt out.." (more)
We've written extensively on how MySpace and other user generated content sites have had to deal with these legitimate concerns while still give them the right to use the content in the ways their business model requires. (Put ads on your page for example.) And because ReverbNation is design intended to be musician friendly it is particularly important that they address these concerns. In a prepared statement ReverbNation replied, in part:
"It has never been ReverbNation’s intent to use the artists’ content in an unfair or self-serving way...Prior to responding to your post, we wanted to verify that our TofU was constructed properly to help us meet our goal of serving the artists, and that it was not unnecessarily onerous to artists...After this review, we determined that we can and should revise the language regarding the music content...Thank you for pointing this out to us...We have the required updates to the TofU in the pipeline, and it will be ready in the very near future..." (more below) - Jed Carlson ReverbNation
Read ReverbNation's full reply after the jump.
THE FULL TEXT OF REVERBNATION'S REPLY:
It has never been ReverbNation’s intent to use the artists’ content in an unfair or self-serving way. Our objective is to connect the success of the site with the success of the artists we serve. Prior to responding to your post, we wanted to verify that our TofU was constructed properly to help us meet our goal of serving the artists, and that it was not unnecessarily onerous to artists. This morning, in response to your post on Hypebot, we reviewed the terms with our new attorneys.
After this review, we determined that we can and should revise the language regarding the music content. Thank you for pointing this out to us. The original TofU was written to handle only songs that the artist would make available for download, not music that was just for streaming (or eventually, music for sale). The following is a description of the difference between the two and also some color around why we need a “perpetual, irrevocable” license for the non-music content.
It is important that everyone understand that in certain instances we cannot control what happens to certain content that gets published to our site, and that there is a difference between how we treat music files and how we treat other content. First, let’s talk about the music files. When a music file is published to our site, the artist can either allow the file to be freely copied (downloaded) or the artist can prohibit copying and specify that the file can only be listened to (streamed). If the artist does not want the file to be freely copied, then we do not allow the file to be copied and the artist can revoke all rights to the music file at any time simply be deleting his or her account. Thus, an artist does have a way to “opt out” of participating on our site and the rights granted to the music are not irrevocable and perpetual. Once the artist’s account is deleted, all music files and any other content published by the artist are deleted. On the other hand, if the artist decides that a music file can be freely copied by anyone, then we do need to have perpetual irrevocable rights to the file because we can’t control what anyone does with the file once it leaves our site.
With respect to other content (non-music files), we do need perpetual and irrevocable rights because we cannot control the copying of this content. For example, photos and schedules that are posted by users can be freely copied by anyone and we have no control over what happens after this content leaves our site (same as any other site, just right click and hit "save image as"). To ensure that we don’t get in big trouble, we need to allow our users to have unrestricted access to this content without worrying about infringing anyone’s intellectual property rights. So for non-music content and files, we do feel it is important to have irrevocable and perpetual rights.
We have the required updates to the TofU in the pipeline, and it will be ready in the very near future. Thanks again for bringing it to our attention.