Clarifying Legal Language?

So this is the fourth time I’ve heard someone express concern about the legal terms in the Patreon Terms of Use (and the second time a lawyer’s done so).

https://www.thepassivevoice.com/patreon-copyright-and-personal-choice/

Any plans to clarify things? This is a pretty important issue.

1 Like

Hey @haikujaguar, thanks for the post and raising this concern. We have a help article that addresses this issue and goes into detail, so I’ll share this highlight as a TL;DR:

Patreon is a creator-founded company that understands completely the importance of retaining ownership over your creations. Creators should be downright skeptical of any agreement that seeks to share in or transfer any portion of ownership in your creations. We are definitely not attempting to claim any sort of ownership or control over your works.

Instead, this section is to ensure that Patreon has all necessary permission to upload, host, resize and display the creations of our creators worldwide. Like we say in the text, “The purpose of this license is strictly limited to allow us to provide and promote memberships to your patrons. We will never try to steal your creations or use them in an exploitative way.”

The state of copyright law requires us to receive a comprehensive license in order to host the copyrighted works of our creators. Otherwise, our creators could sue us for copyright infringement for doing any number of normal things with their creations. If you review the terms of use for other content hosting sites you will find very similar licenses.

We hope this article allays any fear or concern that section of our terms may have caused. If you have further questions or concerns, please contact us at legal@patreon.com.

I appreciate the reply, @mindy! But all this explication is outside the legal document, which, of course, isn’t binding. I was wondering if there were plans to amend the legal document itself to be more explicit about the limitations of the clause. I know you and the people who currently own/control Patreon have the best intentions… but you all might not always be in charge. If one day you all sell the company and sail into the sunset to live on your richly deserved dividends, I don’t want any of us to be worried about some guy on some new board going, ‘well this clause is open to interpretation, one that might make shareholders very happy if we…’ :slight_smile:

3 Likes

Hi, thanks for following up on this. I’m Weston, a member of Patreon’s legal team.

You’re totally right, though our help center article might explicate things a bit, it is not a legally binding agreement. Our terms on the other hand are. Within those terms, we try to be clear about our intentions. By agreeing to our terms, you agree that: “The purpose of this license is strictly limited to allow us [Patreon] to provide and promote memberships to your [Creator’s] patrons. We will never try to steal your creations or use them in an exploitative way.”

If we try and apply this license outside of memberships to your patrons, we are in breach of this license. If we try and exploit your works in any way, we are in breach of this license. If some future iteration of Patreon seeks to do the same, they too will be in breach of this license. Our current terms would have to be rewritten in order to use creators’ works in the way you presented in your hypothetical.

Hope that helps alleviate some of your concerns. If not, let us know either here in the forum or you can email any specific legal questions to legal@patreon.com.

1 Like