Why I Won't Upload Here & You Shouldn't Either

By @AlyStorm
Why I Won't Upload Here & You Shouldn't Either

I won't be uploading any of my stories here, and I will be actively discouraging my friends from doing the same until Underlined changes its Terms of Use. If Underlined wants to create a community of writers, this is not the way to do it.

Chapter 1

At Least Until Underlined Changes Its Policies

UPDATE (March 2, 2018): Good news! Underlined actually listened and changed the Terms of Use to be friendly to writers! Scroll all the way down and click on the Terms of Use link at the bottom of the page if you want to read them. This is honestly a huge thing. I’ve been on other sites before where they refused to change their policies and were quite rude about it, but the people here have been both respectful and receptive, so yay. Now I just have to stop being lazy and actually upload my stuff xD

~~~

“By posting your content on the Sites, you expressly grant PRH a non-exclusive, perpetual, irrevocable, royalty-free, fully paid-up worldwide, fully sub-licensable right to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, transmit, perform and display such content and your name, voice, and/or likeness as contained in your User Submission, in whole or in part, and in any form throughout the world in any media or technology, whether now known or hereafter discovered, including all promotion, advertising, marketing, merchandising, publicity and any other ancillary uses thereof, and including the unfettered right to sublicense such rights, in perpetuity throughout the universe.”

In my opinion, this is the most important sentence in the entire Terms of Use. (Yes, I’m one of those weirdos who actually reads them for every service I join). Basically, this gives Underlined and its parent company, Penguin Random House, the right to do whatever they want with your writing forever. You’re basically giving up everything you could possibly give up in terms of your own rights – expect Underlined is being oh-so-generous by only asking for non-exclusivity.

On the surface, you might think it’s alright as long as you still have the rights to do everything yourself, but consider this: Your book is finished, and you have it edited and ready for submission to agents or publishers. You go through the process, and you discover that no major publisher wants to sign you because Underlined owns perpetual and irrevocable rights to your book. Basically, they don’t want to spend a huge amount of money to promote your book if they won’t be able to maximize their own profits from taking a risk on you.

Now imagine that you decide to self-publish. You work extremely hard to finish your book, make sure it’s perfect, and promote it to everyone you know. Your book starts to gain traction, and you make it into the best-sellers lists. You finally start seeing some actual money come in from it. And then, Underlined realizes they own the right to do whatever they want with your book, so they start selling it in all the major bookstores (don’t worry, you might still get credit – you just won’t be paid for it). Instead, all your hard work will translate into simple profits without work for Underlined.

Maybe someone wants to make a movie from your book. You get contacted by a director to buy the rights. You line up a deal, and then you hear about a different movie studio already working on a movie about your book. They got permission from Underlined, and Underlined got paid. You get left in the dust with no say on how the movie turns out.

Maybe you want to write a sequel to your popular book. And you do. But maybe Underlined already commissioned a completely new author to write a sequel to your story and shipped it to stores. Maybe Underlined decides to publish your original book but make major changes to it that you never approved of. Maybe they decide to translate your book into a different language and sell it in another country to make some money that you’ll never see. Or maybe the worst of them all: Underline has the right to give rights to your work to anyone they want. You basically lose all control of your own story just by posting it on this website for some feedback or just to see reactions.

Now sure, Underlined might be full of “good” people who would never do such a thing. But Underlined won’t always be made up of the exact same people. You never know who might come in, and how sleazy they may be. And either way, Underlined has absolutely no reason to want all these rights other than pure profiteering greed.

If this is the way Underlined chooses to operate, I won’t be uploading any of my stories here, and I will be actively discouraging my friends from doing the same. If Underlined really wants to be a place where writers can come together and share their work in a positive and welcoming atmosphere, this is not the way to do it.

Sure, Underlined needs some of these rights in order to make their website function properly. But there is no reason Underlined need irrevocable and perpetual rights. The rights should disappear if you delete your story from the website. There is no reason Underlined should have the right to sub-license. You should be in control of who owns the rights to your work. There is no reason that Underlined should have the right to modify or adapt your work. These are special rights that can affect the actual content and purpose of your writing, and you should be in control of them unless specifically requested on a case-by-case basis.

I could go on, but the fact remains. Underlined is hoping to take advantage of writers who do not realize everything they are giving up in order to simply post their writing so others can see it. As of now, you’d be better off just posting your writing on a personal blog. At least you’d retain more control over your own work.

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  1. Minah_H

    Have they changed it yet? Just curious and genuinely concerned.

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    Reply 1 Reply Mar 3, 2018
    1. TeamU

      Hi There! We updated our Terms of Use, and have created a list of FAQs to better explain everything. The Terms of Use are linked in the FAQ post found here: https://www.getunderlined.com/create/underlined-writing-community-new-terms-of-use-and-faqs/

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  2. TeamU

    Hi AlyStorm! We have updated our Terms of Use, and have created a handy list of FAQs to better explain everything within it. The Terms of Use are linked in the FAQ post, which you can find here: https://www.getunderlined.com/create/underlined-writing-community-new-terms-of-use-and-faqs/

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  3. Mini

    Wow, thanks so much for the heads up!!

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    Reply 0 Replies Feb 2, 2018
  4. a_r_silver

    Thanks for the warning. Did they update it?

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    1. TeamU

      Hi there! yes, our Terms of Use have been updated! We have also created a handy list of FAQs to better explain everything within it. The Terms of Use are linked in the FAQ post, which you can find here: https://www.getunderlined.com/create/underlined-writing-community-new-terms-of-use-and-faqs/

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  5. Behind_Sapphire_Eyes

    The audacity! First they take away our home at Figment and now they’re trying to trying to steal our souls? Yes, souls. I consider any form of art a piece of one’s soul.

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  6. AudieWhite

    So grateful for the warning. Does anyone know of a good alternative site to write on? Right now I have my work on Wattpad, but the Figment community was much tighter and easier to get feedback on.

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    1. Gilabeau

      Wattpad seems to be the most similar to Figment, honestly. Fictionpress and Fanfiction are alright. I guess it depends on how deep into the communities you are. (I mostly ignore the FF/FP forums, but they exist.)

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      1. Behind_Sapphire_Eyes

        I’ve tried Wattpad, but it didn’t have the same vibe as Figment and the community felt a bit immature. Also, no matter what I did people wouldn’t read my stuff and if they did they would only leave one-liners.

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        1. Gilabeau

          I get that. Figment was awesome.

          I’m currently checking out the “clubs” (forums/discussion boards) on Wattpad. If Underlined can get sorted soon, I think this place could potentially be just as good as Figment. I think what it lacks is someone with experience being part of an online writing community like Figment.

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    2. ZoeAmber

      Booksie is really great community that no one seems to know about! 🙁 I looked up similar sites to Inkpop and Figment and found it there. The community has been super welcoming to me so far, and they seem to be very driven to share and collaborate on projects, if that’s what you’re looking for!

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    3. RedCassis

      I use Mibba, and have for at least 8 years.

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  7. ZoeAmber

    Wow, I can’t express how thankful I am that I was made aware of this. Especially right before I basically imported an entire novel’s backlog into the site. It’s so frustrating that this is the feature that is already many months later than the first few Figment shutdown announcement dates. And even now that we have the space, we can’t use it. Also, can’t say I’m a fan of the censorship, but being a young-adult targeted site, I guess I can understand that. Thanks!

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  8. mbushey1998

    Ugh, I came from Figment.com and waited two months to finally be able to post again on the “new and improved” publishing site. I hope this gets figured out soon or I may just stick to publishing in local newspapers and journals as opposed to using the internet. Everyone seems to want to take your writing from you and use it for themselves.

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  9. SpeculativeGirls

    Same here! Nothing changes if you don’t stand up and say something!

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  10. TeamU

    Hi Alysse, you’re absolutely right, and this was an oversight on our part. These terms were created before the writing section of Underlined was live and they should have been updated. Your stories are important to us, and we want you to be able to share them without any hesitation. We can assure you that by posting your content you are not granting us a license to publish any of your content, except on the site and in connection with the site, nor are we granting third parties the right to publish your content. We are working on creating an updated Terms of Service as we speak and we will let you know as soon as they are live. Thank you for bringing this issue to our attention.
     
    In the meantime, we’d love to know what other questions you have about the site or the Create section in particular so we can address them in FAQs!

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    1. SpeculativeGirls

      Well that’s a step in the right direction. Are you going to clarify this stuff on social, for everyone who’s been posting about it? Transparency is important 🙂

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      1. TeamU

        Yes! We will do so as soon as possible. Stay tuned!

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        1. Chesster

          Please do update on every social media, tell everyone as fast as possible, because just now in the Facebook group where at least 87 Figment members are, we read Aly’s work, and your “old” terms of services and were all planning on leaving.

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        2. TeamU

          Hi there! We don’t want to limit anyone’s creativity and encourage you to write what you love!

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    2. Dovely

      I have a question then – say the terms are updated and everyone’s writing is safe. If they can be updated with any new or changed terms at any time, then it seems to me that down the road the terms could always be changed again to take away the author’s rights and safeties to their work. So, even if the terms are updated now, how do we know our work will always be safe? If that all made sense. Makes me question putting my work out on any website ever.

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      1. Dovely

        As a side note, it would be nice to add a date stamp to when work was uploaded and comments were posted.

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