While I was away enjoying the delights of Vienna and the BP18 conference (blog post coming soon), a storm broke out among events professionals on social media. Here was my first glimpse of it.
The upshot was simple: Eventbrite claimed the right to come to any event where their software was used and to film and/or record everything that went on for their own promotional use. In short, the content created at the event belonged to them, not the organisers or the speakers.
Needless to say, when this went public, the events management world went crazy. Within a few days, the #eventbrite hashtag on Twitter was full of complaints, demands for information and competitors showing how their services were better. Yesterday, this response came from their head office account. (Name of tweeter redacted)
The offending clauses would noticeably disappear from the terms used in the UK and US.
The users won.
Now that we are beginning to ask tough questions about the power and responsibility of technology companies, this one decision stands out. When users make enough noise, companies do change their practices. A few tweets or posts in the right place and behaviour changes.
Not only does this story remind us of the power of users, it should serve as a warning to all businesses to respond to client problems before their reputation is threatened. Just because your lawyers told you that your Terms of Service are legally good, that doesn’t mean that they are the right ones for you and your users. So how helpful are your terms?