Anchor Controversy: Does Anchor own your podcast?

Anchor, the easy to use podcasting app that allows its users to record a podcast as simple as recording a phone call, recently came under some fire for some verbiage in its terms of service. The question surfaced last week on Twitter, whether the platform in fact “owned” the podcasts that are recorded on it’s platform.

The companies Terms of Service was updated on June 21st, however on June 19th, Justin McLachlan (Creator of EOS 10) started a thread on Twitter that included verbiage in the terms of service that looked like this:

“By submitting User Content through the Services, you hereby do and shall grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, perpetual, irrevocable, royalty-free, fully paid-up, sublicensable and transferable license to use, edit, modify (including the right to create derivative works of), aggregate, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the User Content in connection with the operation of the Services, the promotion, advertising or marketing of the Services, or any purposes.”

“You agree that this license includes, without limitation, the right for Anchor to provide, promote, and improve the Services and to make User Content submitted to or through the Services available to other companies, organizations or individuals who partner with Anchor for the syndication, broadcast, distribution, or publication of such User Content on other media and services, subject to our terms and conditions for such User Content use.”

In the next tweet, McLachlan said “This license survives account termination. @anchor is taking ownership of everything you create that passes through their service.”

Anchors Founder, Michael Mignano fired back just 2 days later with this tweet:

Then followed by saying “When you use Anchor, you are granting us a license to distribute your content to our platform as well as others around the world. We’ve clarified the license language to indicate when and how a creator can terminate the license they’ve given us.”

This was followed by two more tweets: “Lastly, Anchor has always aimed to innovate on the medium of audio and make the format more interactive with features like Voice Messages or Cohosts that let users collaborate in real time.” And “To enable these features, the license extends some aspects of its scope to other users so that the users are protected when they choose to collaborate.”

On June 21, 2018, Anchor updated its Terms of Service. The section titled “License Grant” now starts with: You retain all of your ownership rights in your User Content. The word “irrevocable” has been removed.

Anchor has had nothing but positive momentum since coming into the space, and I don’t expect this to stop them, especially with users that choose the platform because of its convenience. However, this is the first somewhat negative press the company has faced and it will be interesting to see how they continue to clarify their terms of service. Anytime pandoras box opens on something like content ownership, others will continue to ask questions. This is something Anchor will have to address if they want to continue to grow, especially with high end talent that isn’t restricted by limited resources.

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