Toss the TOS
Instructables' idea of sharing
Late September 2011 I was contacted by a PR person from Instructables. She
asked me if I'd like to submit and share the Executive Decision Maker
on their site. This would not seem as a bad idea because 10 million viewers (as
she wrote) would be a nice audience. So I replied that I'd be interested if
she'd explain what she expected from me. The exposure would be nice.
But then I decided to read the Instructables' TOS
and this is what I found:
So I wrote back my concerns and that I could not agree to such a TOS as is. It
then took some time for her reply, but that reply was very interesting in a way
- Clause 3:
...You are also subject to U.S. export controls and are
responsible for any violations of such controls, including any U.S. embargoes
or other federal rules and regulations restricting exports...
So Instructables forces me to be under US jurisdiction. How the hell am I
supposed to know US law as a non-US national? It is futile at best to believe
this can be enforced, but it is typical for saying "not my problem, go sue
someone else". Thanks, but no thanks.
And then, in the same clause:
Instructables may limit the availability of the Site
and any Service, in whole or in part, to any person, geographic area or
jurisdiction Instructables chooses, at any time and in Instructables’s sole
So much for sharing. If you have any moral at all, you either publish material
for all to see, or you don't publish it. They should stand by the sharing
thought and not be moralizing who may or may not be allowed to read.
- Clause 10.d:
By uploading, emailing, posting, publishing or
otherwise transmitting Content you acknowledge and agree that such Content is
non-confidential and by uploading, emailing, posting, publishing or otherwise
transmitting or submitting your user name, any and all Content, information and
ideas (collectively “Materials”) to the Site you hereby irrevocably grant to
Instructables and its Affiliates the world-wide, royalty-free, fully paid-up,
perpetual, non-exclusive and fully sublicensable (through multiple tiers)
license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, publicly perform and
publicly display, transmit, store, post, distribute and otherwise exploit any
or all of the Materials, in whole or in part, alone or with other materials, in
any and all form(s), by any and all means and in any and all media or
technology now known or hereinafter developed, and for any and all purposes,
including for publicity, promotion and marketing purposes, and/or for resale.
Furthermore you agree, on behalf of yourself and all others claiming rights
through you in connection with any Materials, not to assert against
Instructables or any other Indemnitee any so-called “moral rights” or analogous
rights anywhere in the world.
This basically states that I would lose complete control of what I post.
Loosely translated they say: "Anything you publish will be considered to be
ours from now on and you cannot stop us from doing what we want to do with it,
whether you like it or not". Again, thanks, but no thanks.
- Clause 25:
...Subject to your compliance with these Terms, solely
for so long as you are permitted by Instructables to access and use the Site,
and provided that you keep intact all copyright and other proprietary notices,
you may (a) view any Content on the site to which we provide you access
hereunder on any single computer solely for personal, informational,
non-commercial purposes, and (b) download and print one (1) copy of Materials
that we make available for downloading from the Site (“Documents”) solely for
personal, informational, non-commercial purposes, provided that the Documents
may not be modified or altered in any way. You may not use, download, upload,
copy, print, display, perform, reproduce, publish, license, post, transmit,
rent, lease, modify, loan, sell, distribute, or create derivative works based
on (whether in whole or in part) the Site, any Service or any information from
or Content on the Site or any Service, in whole or in part, without the express
prior written authorization of Instructables....
Which is in direct conflict with copyleft licenses and is completely contrary
to free and open sharing. It is actually contrary Instructables' own policy of
wanting to share information. They claim rights and try to impose restrictions
on content that is not theirs. Eventhough they claim a license (from clause
10.d above), they are not the copyright holder of the information that is
posted. This I'd call a classical grab of power. Thanks, but no thanks.
She explained how to create an account and then "After you have an account, you
can go ahead and start posting...". But the real kicker is:
And thanks for taking the time to read our TOS. The
main idea of our site is to simply share instructions for our projects with
others. We make them free and public, so anyone can log on and learn from other
people's creativity and passion. And in turn, we invite them to share as well.
We have a smart and supportive community here, and I'd love to have you be a
part of it.
But, but,... I explained her that the TOS does not cover that "sharing thought"
at all. Anyway, I did not get an answer to my questions about the TOS. Just a
"thanks for reading it". Wow, how does that help? (sorry for becoming sarcastic
So I wrote back once more and asked her to answer my concerns and
provide possible solutions; in which I concluded with:
Please explain to me how we can work out these
problems. Or must I assume your site works under a "take-it-or-leave-it"
policy? If so, I respectfully have to decline. Otherwise, please let us discuss
how we can come to a sensible compromise.
That is the last I heard from her (that was about three weeks ago). My guess is
that it is a take-it-or-leave-it proposition. Well, (not really) sorry to tell
you then, I leave it.
Dear Instructables, change your TOS to be compatible with your sharing moral.
It is currently a disgrace IMO.