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Tik Tok: Terms of Use You Didn’t Read

woman reading through tik tok terms of use

Terms of Use You Didn’t Read is back and this month I’m looking at Tik Tok’s Terms of Use. By the end of this post, you’ll have a better idea of the terms that you agree to by using Tik Tok, what data they’re really using to track you, and how it compares to other social media platforms and the data that they collect on you.

What Tik Tok’s Terms of Use Say About Music

The first thing that stood out to me in Tik Tok’s Terms of Use was regarding music. Obviously, music and sound recordings play a huge part in using Tik Tok, whether it’s dancing or lip synching, or just using music in the background.

Here’s what Tik Tok has to say about music and sound recordings:

No rights are licensed with respect to sound recordings and musical works embodied therein that are made available from or through the service.

Tik Tok Terms of Service, Paragraph 7

Tik Tok also says that if you don’t own the rights to the musical composition and the sound recording, you may not upload that music to Tik Tok. It also says that if you create a musical work of some kind, or any kind of sound recording, whether you’re speaking or singing, that by uploading it to Tik Tok you allow all other users of Tik Tok to edit, manipulate, create a new recording based on that recording.

Data and Tik Tok’s Privacy Policy

Now let’s dive into the Privacy Policy. Privacy policies, of course, talk about what data a company collects, how they collect it, and how it’s used. The data collected by Tik Tok falls under three categories. One is information that you choose to provide to them; two, information that they collect from other sources; and three, information that they collect automatically.

Information You Choose to Provide

It should not surprise you Tik Tok collects information that you choose to provide; you are choosing to provide that information.

Let’s compare Tik Tok to Facebook, though. In creating your profile with Tik Tok, you might enter your email address or phone number, you might upload a photo, and then of course, you upload whatever content you upload through the platform. With Facebook, you’re uploading your photo, or multiple, multiple photos, and videos, your profile information, which can contain anything from your high school to your mother, who might have her maiden name up there. (Can you say, security question information?)

So in terms of privacy concerns with apps, that’s a big thing to think about — what information do you voluntarily upload to the platform? Again, Tik Tok has your face and your video and content that you upload through the platform, but the profile is very basic. You might have a link to your other social media platforms, a very short bio and your photo. Facebook has a lot more information. This is something to remember when you’re using any social media platform, but especially in comparing Tik Tok to other platforms.

Info Tik Tok Collects from Other Sources

Information that they collect from other sources can be information from social media platforms. If you connect your Facebook account to Tik Tok, for example, it might also collect your contacts on Facebook so that you can find your friends who are also on Tik Tok.

They might collect your information from third party services like advertisers.

They might collect information from you from other “publicly available sources.”

Info Tik Tok Collects Automatically

Information Tik Tok collects automatically can be usage information, device information, location data, messages, metadata, and cookies.

Usage information can be information like how long you stay on the app, what you like and what you favorite while you’re in the app — the type of information that relates to how you are using it. (So does Facebook.)

Device information. This is not just the type of phone that you use to log into the place form, but also your IP address, your mobile carrier, your timezone settings, keystroke patterns or rhythms, and file names and types. (Fb tracks this, too.)

Messages. Obviously they can scan and view messages that are sent within the app. (Facebook is notorious for this as well.)

Cookies are primarily used to track what webpages you’re clicking on, and to send targeted advertisements your way. You can disable cookies in the Tik Tok settings. Tons of sites track cookies, and, thanks to Europe, it’s now common to see an “opt-in to cookies” pop-up bar the first time you visit a website.

Is Tik Tok Scanning Your Device for Payment Information?

There’s nothing in this Privacy Policy about going into your phone and collecting credit card information. Note, though, that if you choose to upload credit card information or, for example, PayPal information, to the platform, that’s information that you’re voluntarily giving to Tik Tok. That’s one of the rumors out there that Tik Tok is crawling your phone and stealing your credit card numbers. I do not see that in this Privacy Policy.

How Tik Tok Uses Your Information

This section looks pretty standard. They use it to fulfill requests for products and services, to customize the content you see, to send promotional materials, to improve and develop the platform to measure effectiveness of advertising, make suggestions and provide customized ad experience, blah, blah, blah.

And, if you’re curious, here’s a little comparison or example of how Facebook tracks your activities on other websites.

What You Can Do If Tik Tok’s Tracking Makes You Nervous

So, what do you do if you’re uncomfortable with some of these privacy practices? Like I mentioned, you can disable cookies, that’s a setting in Tik Tok. Apple and Android devices allow you to limit ad tracking within your settings and switch off location tracking on your device as well so that Tik Tok doesn’t have access to that information. These are all things that you can do (and maybe should do!) with regard to a lot of social media platforms.

So I hope that gives you a better understanding of Tik Tok, the terms you agree to when you’re using Tik Tok, and the data that Tik Tok has on you.

Keep on creating that great content!

Pinterest: Terms of Use You Didn’t Read

woman reading through pinterest terms of use

This month’s “Terms of Use You Didn’t Read” focuses on Pinterest and the terms of use that you’ve agreed to by using Pinterest.


Pinterest Terms of Use: More Simply Put

First, the these Terms of Use use a really cool thing that I’ve actually considered doing in some of the contracts that I write. They have a “more simply put” section under each section in their Terms of Use. This is basically two or three sentences that explain the paragraph in easy to use language. You’ll have to check it out yourself I think it’s very helpful for people when they are actually reading the Terms of Use.

Pinterest’s Business Requirements

Next in Pinterest Terms of Use you will see that if you are using Pinterest in connection with a business, you must create a business account and agree to Pinterest’s Business Terms.

Who Owns the Content You Post to Pinterest?

Pinterest’s stance on copyright ownership of content is pretty clear. They say you own everything that you post to Pinterest, but you give Pinterest permission to share it on the website. By posting, you also give users permission to save it to their boards and save that content. But, it’s still yours — the content that you post is still yours.

What Happens if you Delete Content

Next, Pinterest wants to make sure you understand that if you delete content it might remain on users’ boards; in other words users might have saved that content. Even though you deleted it it might remain on users boards because they’ve saved a copy. The ol’ what happens on the internet stays on the Internet conundrum.

Limitation of liability.

Remember my discussion about limitation of liability in my post about the WordPress Terms of Use? Essentially, if you have a claim against Pinterest for breach of the Terms of Use, then the most you’re going to get out of them is a hundred bucks.

Pinterest Terms of Use Explains Third-Party Links

Finally Pinterest has the best ever explanation of third-party content that I’ve seen on a Terms of Use. Usually a website’s Terms of Use will talk about third-party content and third-party links; in other words links to sites that are controlled by someone that isn’t the owner of the platform. Usually those terms of use say “we don’t take any responsibility for the content found at those third-party links or the privacy practices of those third parties” (etc.)

The “more simply put” two-sentence explanation of that section is:

Pinterest Terms of Use explanation of third-party links

Pretty straightforward, huh?

I hope this gives you a little sneak peek on the Terms of Use that you’ve agreed to by using Pinterest.

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WordPress: Terms of Use You Didn’t Read

group of people reading wordpress terms of use for the first time

Y’all know I’m a big Terms of Use geek. I’m super excited about this new monthly series, “Terms of Use You Didn’t Read.” I will go in and pick out a handful of terms in platforms that you might be using and point out some of the things that you’ve agreed to by using the platform.

The series will show you, in general, how Terms of Use are used. It’ll also show things that you might not know you’ve agreed to by using certain platforms. Today I’m talking about WordPress.com, a common website platform for building tons of different kinds of websites.


WordPress Terms of Use: Share and Share-Alike

The coolest thing about WordPress’s Terms of Use is that they have released them under a Creative Commons Share-Alike license.

Well, what the heck does that mean?

That means that you can copy and paste those suckers and use them for your own website!
Obviously, they should be tailored to your website. WordPress even says this in the first couple of paragraphs of their Terms of Use. WordPress also says it would appreciate credit if you do post them. Still, pretty neat that they put out there that you can use these Terms of Use for your own website.

Pretty cool, WordPress. Pretty cool.

Permission to Re-Blog [automatically] Granted

Next is something in the WordPress Terms of Use that has to do with “re-blogging.” The Terms of Use say:

“You give other WordPress.com users permission to share your content on other WordPress.com websites and add their own content to it (so in other words, re-blog) so long as they only use a portion of your post and they give you credit as the original author by linking back to your website.

See: https://wordpress.com/tos/

In other words, by posting on a WordPress.com website, you grant permission to other WordPress users to copy and paste portions of your website “so long as they only use a portion of your post.”
It doesn’t say what “a portion”means, it doesn’t say big or small portion. This might be worth monitoring, to the extent you monitor your own content that’s being reposted or shared.

The Easter Egg in the WordPress Terms of Use

In the Disclaimer of Warranties section, WordPress has a little Easter egg hiding. So, they say, “If you’re actually reading this, here’s a treat.” And they hyperlink to a picture of barbecue. ‘Cause they love barbecue.

It’s just funny because they call out the fact that nobody actually reads these things. ( I mean, I do.) I bet at least ten percent of the people that read this post will be surprised by what they’ve agreed to by using WordPress.

WordPress Limitation of Liability

In their Limitation of Liability, WordPress points out that their liability is limited. The limitation is either the fees you’ve paid over the last 12 months, or $50 (whichever is greater). So, to use easy math, if you pay $10 per month for a year, then you are limited to $120 in damages. (That is, if there’s ever a cause of action that arises between you and WordPress.)


So that’s it in terms of some of the terms that you’ve agreed to by using WordPress. Just a handful there for your entertainment and education.

Hey, online business owner! I’ve got a little something for you. Learn four things that you can do RIGHT now to protect your business online — one thing delivered to your inbox for four weeks — by clicking the image below.

3 Contracts Online Creators Must Have in Place

woman smiling because she has contracts online creators must have in place

By the end of this post you will know the three contracts that online creators must know about, in my opinion. And I’m not just telling you what those contracts are. I’ll give you some key terms and the problems that each of these documents will prevent. So let’s dive in.


Contracts Online Creators Must Have: Terms of Use

first in contracts online creators must have is a solid terms of use

First is Terms of Use. And Terms of Use are a contract between you and users of your platform, your community, your app, your site.

Terms of Use: Key Terms

They tend to be kind of long, so it’s hard to pinpoint just two or three key terms, but, some of those key terms are:

Prohibited Conduct. (This can include a code of conduct for a membership site). This is grounds or rights to terminate a user’s account if they engage in certain activity. In other words, reasons why you might terminate somebody’s account. 

Limitation of Liability. Limiting your liability if things go south.

Affiliates Policy. A sweet explanation of affiliate links you might have on your site.

Problems Terms of Use Can Prevent

Manage Conflict With Users/Audience. If you have the proper language in your ToU, you can handle this quickly and easily. If something goes awry you have immediate recourse, according to your Terms of Use.

CYA — you know, to cover yourself — if something goes wrong. Limiting your liability if someone gets hurt, or doesn’t follow your instructions properly. Or maybe their business is hurt or they suffer monetary damages (or at least they say they do) because of some of the content that you’ve put out there. The Terms of Use can limit your liability, and limit the money that someone can actually go after (to the extent it’s allowed under applicable law).

Over all, Terms of Use require your users to agree to the Terms of Use before using your site or your platform.  And if they don’t agree, then bye-bye!

Contracts Online Creators Must Have: Contractor Agreement

next in contracts online creators must have in place is a contractor agreement for use with people like copywriters, graphic designers, social media marketers

A Contractor Agreement is an agreement between you and any contractor that you use. This can be a photographer, a copywriter, a graphic designer, or a social media marketer. The contract lays out the terms of your relationship with that individual. A lot of times contractors will have their own service agreement that they will send to you, but you would be surprised how many people don’t have contracts. So you might need to have your own Contractor Agreement template on hand.

Contractor Agreement: Key Terms

IP ownership. This is key, because of that copyright myth that you’ve heard me talk about before. People think that because they’ve paid a contractor to create something, that they own it, but that is not true, right? Under US copyright law, any copyright transfer has to be in writing in order to be valid. (If it’s not done by an employee kind of in the course of their job.) So, having that IP language in a contractor agreement is crucial if you want to make sure that you own that intellectual property. 

Non-solicitation. This is a little bit different from non-compete, and it depends on state law, but it basically prohibits a contractor from soliciting either other coworkers or other contractors away from you, or your clients or customers away from you, for a certain period of time. So that’s a little a little boost in protection.

Company Systems and Confidential Information. If a contractor needs access to your passwords, social media accounts, or devices, listen up. Likewise if contracts have access to confidential information like analytics data. Having something in a Contractor Agreement that spells out a) how to handle confidential information and b) what happens if that confidential information is misused is priceless.

Problems A Contractor Agreement Can Help You Avoid

Essentially, it’s all about peace of mind.

Peace of mind when it comes to knowing that your IP ownership is secure.

Peace of mind when it comes to treatment and use of your confidential information and systems.

Peace of mind when it comes to knowing that your relationships with your customers are safe.

All of those things! And, of course, having a document that that has it all laid out so that you and the contractor have a mutual understanding, in one spot, as to what’s going. 

Contracts Online Creators Must Have: Collaboration Contract

last in contracts online creators must have in place is a collaboration contract

The last document is a Collaboration Contract, and that’s different from a sponsorship or kind of an influencer or sponsorship agreement. It’s almost like a styled shoot in the event-planning world. You collaborate with another business in connection with a launch, an event, something like that where you are both promoting something together, like a joint promotion arrangement.

Collaboration Contract: Key Terms

Common terms: Well, you have “roles.” You want to make clear who’s doing what.

There is “ownership of intellectual property,” so who owns the photographs, any webpages, any copy, any posts. There’s use of any IP, so who can use it and for how long after the campaign or after the venture has ended. And then there’s “confidential information,” so again, to extent you need to exchange confidential information to move this thing forward –whether it’s analytics information, your target market information, information that you use in connection with any Google or social media ads – how each of you must treat the other’s confidential information.

Problems that a Collaboration Agreement Could Avoid:

Avoid Discrepancies. Make sure everyone knows who’s doing what kind of makes sure everyone’s on the same page there;  

Avoid mistreatment or misuse of IP. Maybe you’ve decided that if you create something, each of you create something, you own whatever you’ve individually created. That’s fine, but just making sure that those things are clear and put in the document so that everyone’s on the same page.


So you’ve got your Terms of Use, you’ve got your Contractor Agreement, and you’ve got your Collaboration Agreement.

I hope this post has helped you understand why these documents are important, how they come into play, and the problems that they might help you avoid.


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Re-Sharing User-Generated Content, Legally

Let’s talk about re-sharing user-generated content, legally, on Instagram. By the end of this post, you’ll understand 1) what user-generated content is, and 2) what it means to share user-generated content while complying with copyright law.

There are a few ways that this can come up.

The first is where a brand has tagged you in a photo where maybe they’re talking about you. This could be in influencercontext, or this could be just any user on Instagram tagging a product that they like or use and talking about it. Technically speaking, even though they’re tagging the brand or they’re talking about a product, you do not have consent to share a photo that you don’t own unless you seek permission. This is because of copyright law, of course. Usually the person that creates the content — like a photograph — owns that content. You may be able to seek a license or permission to use that content, but you don’t own that content. Giving someone credit or linking to her account is nice, but, number one, might not be necessary, and number two, it’s not enough to “absolve” you from copyright infringement. 

The second scenario is summed up in this question: what if it’s already on Instagram? If it’s already out there, isn’t it free to use? Answer: NO. Instagram’s own “Community Guidelines” kind of talk about this. The guidelines say: 

Share only photos and videos that you’ve taken or have the right to share.

Instagram Privacy and Safety Center, Community Guidelines

Instagram also goes through a little spiel on intellectual property rights and copyright and says,

The best way to help make sure that the content you post to Instagram doesn’t violate copyright law is to only post content that you’ve created yourself.

Instagram Help Center, Copyright

… and they’re right.

A lot of people go by the adage of “just give them credit and you can use it” but that’s that’s not legally correct. In other words, to put it simply in one sentence, you should be seeking permission for every photo — whether it’s a story or photo in your feed — before re-sharing it.

If you’re concerned whether you’re re-sharing user-generated content, legally, it’s better to ask permission before posting, just to be safe!

What’s that? Free info? Yes, please. Click below to learn four things you can do right now to protect your business online. 

Four Contracts Every Entrepreneur Should Know About

4 contracts every entrepreneur should know about spear ip maria spear ollis detroit mi nashville tn attorney

Short ‘n’ sweet, and in plain English, this post digs into four contracts every entrepreneur should know about, their purpose, and common terms to look out for.

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Client Query: How Do I Know If the GDPR Applies to Me?

You’ve noticed it, right? You’ve gotten bombarded with emails from all of the different services that you use. Pinterest, Etsy, GoDaddy, Instagram, Slack…they’re all updating their terms of service to reflect new privacy practices. But why? If you’re any sort of online entrepreneur, you know the answer. It’s the General Data Protection Regulation (or “GDPR”) coming out of the EU, set to go into effect on May 25, 2018. The GDPR is a new set of standards established by the European Union and mandates certain privacy practices. So, should you be worried about it? Depends. Here, you’ll find some info on who the GDPR applies to, what it covers, and (generally speaking!) some best practices for compliance.

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People Are “Total-ly” Suing Amazon for Counterfeit Eclipse Glasses

People are Suing Amazon for Counterfeit Eclipse Glasses

Those of you in the Nashville, Tennessee area remember the total eclipse that occurred last week. For two blissful minutes (or eerie minutes, depending on your perspective), the sun disappeared, the birds stopped chirping while the cicadas started, and there was a sunset on every horizon. After a flurry of “eye-popping” prices for eclipse glasses, some unscrupulous vendors began peddling counterfeit glasses — glasses that would not protect your eyeballs from the wonders of science. But is Amazon truly at fault?

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Contest Rules, Social Media, and the Law

Contest Rules Social Media and the Law

You’ve seen them so often that you don’t even pay attention to the rules. “Tag a friend in the comments to enter!” “Share this photo to enter!” But, like all contests and sweepstakes, contests that take place on social media are often governed by very specific rules. How many social media contests or promotions have you run or participated in that do not follow the rules?

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License to Wha? Using Stock Photos & Fonts

Using Stock Photos & FontsUsing Stock Photos and Fonts

We’ve become a very visual society. Maybe we have always been that way, but social media has made us more aware of just how visual our society is. (Hello, Instagram.) As such, every article, DIY project, and blog post has a pretty image. (If there is text overlaid on the image, it’s pretty text.) Luckily, there are several websites that offer stock photos and free fonts to help make things “pretty.” But can you really get away with using stock photos and free fonts with no strings attached?

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Peeple: Legal Lessons For App & Website Providers

Legal Lessons For App & Website Providers

Peeple, an app that has yet to take on its final form, has been causing quite a stir. The Canadian company behind the app (namely, its co-founder, Julia Cordray) has touted it as “Yelp for People.” But what are the legal concerns surrounding an app or website platform that can be used for negative purposes such as cyber-bullying and defamation?

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Why Your Notice to Facebook Doesn’t Work: A Lesson in Terms of Use

A Lesson in Terms of Use

Facebook, the world’s most popular (and populated) social network, has once again been buzzing with status updates where users declare their rights against Facebook and tell it what it can and can’t do with that user’s content. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but these status updates mean nothing. Why?

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