Recently I posted an article about the new community called Ghost Hunters Join The Hunt. It was brought to my attention today by one of the readers of my Examiner site that, according to the Join The Hunt Terms of Service, you’re giving up all rights to everything you post within their community. This was a surprise to me so I investigated by reading the entire terms of service they have posted on their website.
Here’s some of what I found out. All content posted or loaded to the site is owned by NBC and it’s affiliates. Let’s say you have this great video of a ghost you want to share or you’ve written up your paranormal experience and you post these items on their site. They have the right to sell that video, use it on television or in any other media and they can even fictionalize your experience and publish it, without getting your permission, without notifying you or compensating you in any way for the content. How can they do this? They can do it because you agreed to the terms of service when you registered on their site.
Does anyone read all of the terms of service for a website before using it? I don’t always read the TOS in their entirety unless I’m considering submitting a written story. I owned a publishing company and am a multi-published author so I know what it means to give up the rights to your work. If you’re going to give up rights to your videos, written content or pictures shouldn’t you at least be offered the opportunity to be paid for them if they are indeed selected for some other use than where you posted it on the website? If I submitted a video somewhere and then later saw it on television I’d want to be paid for my work. Well, shame on me. I should have read the terms of service before submitting anything because I’ve given up my rights and I can’t do a thing about getting paid for my video appearing on television.
As an update to the original story I wrote about this community, I feel that you should know what you’re giving up when you join. The community concept is a great idea but the terms of service is a concern for me. You may feel differently and content rights may not matter to you. But if retaining your rights on your materials is important to you, then please read their entire Terms of Service, specifically the Rights In Content Section, so you can make an informed decision prior to joining. If you’re going to submit information, pictures, videos or any other content to any website, not just the Join The Hunt site, I recommend that you read that website’s terms of service in depth. You may be giving away rights that you didn’t even realize you are giving away. Rights that you may want to keep.