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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:
  • 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 discretion.
    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.
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 of ignorance.
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 here).
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.

Posted: 2011-10-16
Updated: 2011-10-16

Overengineering @ request