Because of my interest in writing, I have over the years subscribed and registered to websites and newsletters, one of which I received yesterday. It advertised a new site called Ratemywords.com, a website onto which you could upload poems, articles, stories and song lyrics and other members could rate them.
It boasted leaderboards and a community for members to get together to discuss various aspects of writing, and best of all
“When you upload your work to RateMyWords it is time-stamped and saved on our database. This acts as a proof of your work being your intellectual property.”
Doesn’t that sound fantastic? Proof that the particular work belongs to you and safety from people who might read your work, copy it and pass it on as their own.
As such I had a browse around the website, surprised to find that as yet there was very little content on there. I then came across something posted to the short story section which directed me to the terms and conditions of Ratemywords.com.
While reading through them, I found this
“When you provide Content you retain ownership of the intellectual property in that information however you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free licence (with the right to sublicense) to use (including copy, reproduce, adapt, modify, publish, broadcast, transmit, display and distribute) the Content in any and all media including forms not yet developed”
Therefore, although they are happy to provide proof that you are the legal author, they themselves are allowed to use your content however they wish without having to pay you a single fee. All because you uploaded content that you wanted people to read.
Imagine having spent months or years writing your draft novel, and wanting to get some feedback before sending it to a publisher, only to find the possiblity that it’s already been printed and sold by the people behind this website and you can claim nothing from them for all your hard work.
The worst thing about it all is that during the registration process there isn’t even a checkbox to confirm that you do agree with all their terms and conditions. As soon as you choose a username and password, and upload your work, you’ve implicitly agreed, without even knowing.
So, to any budding writers out there, avoid this website, tell others to avoid the website, and above all, always check terms and conditions, otherwise you might find your work is lost through underhand means.