Deal with the Devil

Content Curation and Syndication Gone Wrong

I’ve always liked the ideas of content curation and syndication. I’ve always thought they were great ways to get your name out there and increase your perceived authority. Maybe I’m naive, but it’s always seemed like a partnership to me. You curate my content and people come to your site. They see my content and your ads. I get authority; you get money. Seems like a win-win to me.

But what happens when you start taking that curated content and selling it out to others? Then we have a problem.

Business2Community – From Curation to Syndication

I’ve often shared how much we like Business2Community as far as a place to curate content. We’ve used the site ourselves on several occasions. However, it’s come to my attention recently that things aren’t “quite” what they seem.

On May 24th, Businessesgrow.com wrote, “Someone’s making money off your copyrighted content (But it isn’t you).” For B2C users, this is a must read. According to the article, Business2Community is taking curated content and syndicating it through another source, namely NewsCred. It makes me wonder just how many other content curation sites are doing the same thing.

In reading the fine print on B2C Terms of Service, we found this tidbit:

By posting to or otherwise engaging in any communication within the Site, you are granting the Site (or any of its assignees) a perpetual, royalty-free, and irrevocable right and license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, distribute, transmit, publicly display, publicly perform, sublicense, create derivative works from, transfer, and sell any such information.

In short, if you “engage in communication” with B2C, it’s as if they wrote it. You’re giving them full access to do whatever that want with it.

So What?

Who cares though, right? Isn’t that just more free press for you? And who are we to complain? They did what we wanted them to and didn’t charge us for it, right?

Right. And yet, so very, very wrong.

You see, you might get attribution, but it’s probably not what you had in mind.

Reading the Fine Print

Take a look at that TOS again from B2C. This time, I’ll emphasize the concerning parts, yeah?:

By posting to or otherwise engaging in any communication within the Site, you are granting the Site (or any of its assignees) a perpetual, royalty-free, and irrevocable right and license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, distribute, transmit, publicly display, publicly perform, sublicense, create derivative works from, transfer, and sell any such information.

Now let me ask you. When you sign on with a content curation company, do you really mean you want them to have the ability to change the content to say whatever and then sell it?

For some authors, says the article, this is just what B2C did. They took out the links that were in the article to the author’s site and sold the article out.

When Attribution Isn’t Enough

Now, to be fair, B2C does provide author attribution. Let’s take, for example, the search result below.

Dell Tech

When you visit the link, there’s a nice header at the top that has the title and then “By NewsCred.” Keep in mind that this was originally published on Business2Community.

Dell Managing

At the bottom of the page, it has the attribution.

Lea Betancourt

Yes, the author wrote an article for Business2Community, but did she really intend for it to become credited to NewsCred? Maybe, maybe not, but how would you feel about it? For Mark Schaefer of Businessesgrow.com, this was a very unpleasant surprise.

Where’s the Real Benefit?

I looked over our analytics. Since 2009 to now, we’ve received a total of 73 referrals to our site from Business2Community. Yet, they were shared thousands of time within the B2C network. We have about that many articles there. There’s a “nofollow” link back to our site in the bio.

There’s a “follow” link to our feed. They allow for social buttons on the full author profile. Potentially, we could have got some follows there.

But is the real benefit to the content producer or to the content curator?

I used to think it was mutually beneficial. Now I’m not so sure.

Read The Fine Print

Reading the Fine Print – Again

Now, I read the fine print when we started with B2C. I always do. Maybe it was bad hair day and I missed it, but I’m more inclined to think they’ve updated their TOS in the in-between years. This tells me I need to go visit all the sites I’ve used or am currently using, and see if they’ve updated to something I don’t approve of.

After reading the article on Businessesgrow.com, I had to stomp down on my Italian ancestry that ordered me to immediately rant and rave. We’re an emotional bunch, you know.

I don’t intend on taking down the content that’s on Business2Community at this date – even if I could, but I don’t know that I’d ever use them again. There’s a principle there that has been violated in my mind. In short, you didn’t tell me you were going to sell my articles and make them yours. If you had, I might have just shrugged it off if the number of eyes on my content was worth it. But you didn’t. And it pisses me off.

What About You?

So what about you? Were you aware of the TOS for Business2Community? Have you considered using B2C, but have been trying to make up your mind? Does this knowledge change your mind either way?

Join the discussion in the comments!