Medium’s terms since April 2014
Todd, thanks for the questions. We want our terms to be as clear as possible. And we want you and other users to trust us to structure and interpret them fairly.
First, your factual question. That 2013 article talks about past terms of service. Our current terms of service, published April 10, 2014, changed the term at issue in that post. So, the analysis you cite no longer applies to what’s happening on Medium. To be clear, Medium’s intent back then was the same — we were not selling content without permission then — but we recognized its language was too broad.
You suggested that we might want to remove that out-of-date post. The post you reference is a user post, not something from Medium. So we would not remove it. Also, it’s part of a historical conversation about Medium user rights and shows how we’ve evolved. We’ll leave it up to Andrea Phillips.
Medium won’t sell your work without your permission
Second, you end your post by saying:
I am suggesting that the terms, as I read and interpret them, do not give Medium the right to directly sell my writing without my agreement.
That’s right. If someone offered Medium money to copy or distribute a work you wrote and posted on Medium we would get your permission first. In the rare cases when we’ve entered into paid syndication agreements for content on Medium, we contacted each of the writers and paid them for the right to syndicate it. More broadly, our monetization goals are to create ways in which writers can earn revenue directly on Medium.
If that doesn’t address your main concern, let us know what you’re worried might happen.
We know people feel burned by plenty of companies. So, they sometimes assume the worst — that a term is ambiguous in order to covertly deprive them of a right. We don’t want to do that. If we did, as you said, you and many other users would just leave. We also know that trust is earned. So, we’re trying to earn it by being transparent, listening, admitting when we’re wrong, clarifying, and doing more than the bare required minimum.
As it happens, we’re working on new Terms of Service and plan to roll them out soon. They are not meant to make big substantive changes, they mainly are about clarifying users’ rights, including the promotional rights you’re asking about. We hope this response and the new terms will alleviate your concerns. We appreciate you raising them on behalf of other users who have wondered the same. As always, let us know what you think.