The Journal, Friday, September 6

In today’s Journal

* Today I’m investing some time
* Topic: Read the Terms of Service (TOS)
*If you’re an independent writer/publisher
* The numbers

Today I’m investing some time reading or reviewing terms of service for various platforms I use personally. It sounds boring, but if your copyright matters to you at all, I recommend you do the same.

What prompted this post? In a recent newsletter, Nate Hoffelder (The Digital Reader) recommended using (not the same as

Read on….

Topic: Read the Terms of Service (TOS)

First, everything you write, including blog posts, is automatically protected by copyright the instant it’s “in fixed form.” You don’t have to register your copyright. It’s there whether or not you choose to register it. In other words, the instant your short story, novel, novella, essay, memoir or blog post (or any other writing) is finished, it’s protected by copyright.

If you use or are thinking about using the free (or paid) to host your website, read the Terms of Service. Specifically, scroll down to “License” under and Section 7.a., 7.b. and 7.c.

Each section reads in part “you grant Automattic a world-wide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license….” That’s pretty common. In other words you’re giving the rights they need to display what you put up. And of course, that’s all right. It only makes sense.

The troublesome part comes later in each paragraph under License. Under 7.a., “You also give other users permission to share your Content on other websites and add their own Content to it (aka to “reblog” your Content)…” (emphasis added).

Under 7.b. “By submitting Content to Automattic for inclusion on your website, you grant Automattic a world-wide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, modify, adapt, and publish the Content solely for the purpose of displaying, distributing, and promoting your website” (again, emphasis added).

And under 7.c. “You also grant us a worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to copy and store your VaultPress Content, to the extent necessary to operate the VaultPress service. These Terms don’t give us any rights in your VaultPress Content, beyond those we need to operate VaultPress. You own your VaultPress Content.”

I find this frightening. Notice that the third set of Terms “don’t give us any rights in your VaultPress Content, beyond those we need to operate VaultPress.” That statement is missing from the first two instances of License.

I haven’t read all of the terms of service for all of the organizations that offer free website hosting, but I’d bet money they’re similar when it comes to right grabbing.

For just one example, should you choose to go with (a Google company), click and scroll down to “Your Content in our Services.” Read carefully.

Be careful out there, folks.

As I have before, I will always recommend avoiding “free” hosting sites specifically because of their terms of service. There really is no free lunch.

Instead, invest in yourself and protect your work. Go with a paid hosting site, set up an account, and do a one-click installation of WordPress.ORG (not .com).

If you’re an independent writer/publisher and if you would be interested in posting for Pro Writers Writing, either monthly, weekly, or as a guest blogger, please email me at

Talk with you again before too long.

Writing of Blackwell Ops 7: Glynn Marco (novel)

Day 8…… 1253 words. Total words to date…… 15916

Fiction words today…………………… 0
Nonfiction words today…………… 530

Total fiction words for the month……… 0
Total fiction words for the year………… 374653
Total nonfiction words for the month… 1910
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 248620
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 623273

Calendar Year 2019 Novels to Date…………………… 7
Calendar Year 2019 Novellas to Date……………… 1
Calendar Year 2019 Short Stories to Date… 2
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 43
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 195
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31

4 thoughts on “The Journal, Friday, September 6”

  1. Hello Harvey!

    Again I have a question about my writing process. I tried cycling many times now, but every time I do it – even when I didn’t touch anything(!) – my subconcious doesn’t want to play anymore. It is only when I let it move forward constantly, that the fun of writing and the flow of the story continues. Do you think I should let finish my subconscious the story first and go over it (without critical mind) after the story is done? Because I have the feeling, that even rereading as a reader counts as an unwanted interruption for my subconscious and destroys the process. I am sad, that the cycling method works for you and for Dean and for Robert and Kris and all the other great writers, who are writing into the dark, but not for me. 🙁

    Thanks for this valuable Journal and your thoughts on writing. I have learned very much since I discovered your website and implemented your advices. Now I actually can feel that I am on the right track to become a successful writer.

    Have a wonderful day, Harvey!

    With kind regards

    • Finn, thanks for the comment and question.

      Don’t allow anything to interrupt the flow of your writing.

      Cycling is about writing one clean draft, beginning to end. It’s a kind of ongoing revision, but all done in the subconscious. It sounds like you aren’t remaining in the subconscious while reading (e.g., you’re consciously “looking” for things to fix, etc.).

      Anyway, sure, writing without cycling is fine. On most short stories, I don’t cycle (no need). On novellas and novels, I take a break about once an hour. Qhen I come back to the novel, I read back over what I wrote (to get myself back into the story) then continue when I get to the white space.

  2. >licensing
    You bring up an excellent point.
    I see the horrible licensing terms as the price you pay for being allowed to take part in the WordPress social media system (there’s an SNS system for WordPress bloggers that kind of takes place behind the scenes in the WordPress app. It’s useful for bloggers whose main focus is on socializing and having fun).
    But I’m never going to post any “for-real” writing there. No way. lol

    • I assume you’re talking about I don’t use them at all, but they’re a magnet for people who want a “free” website. (Though it’s far from free when they finish nickle and diming you to death.)

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