Are You Giving Away All Your Rights When You Write on Bubblews?

Blowing Bubblews

You've probably heard all the hype surrounding revenue-share site Bubblews. There are plenty of people singing the praises for Bubblews being an 'easy way to make money online'.
The rules are so simple. Write about anything you want, make sure your post is at least 400 characters long, post it and you make money. 400 characters is around 100 words, so it's quick to get going.
What could be easier?
The site is filled with thousands of people posting endless 'bubbles' about what they ate for breakfast or about some mundane thing they saw on the way to work.
There are also loads of posts containing highly personal information, such as kid's names, family member's names, pet names, locations of where they live, personal family photos, and other personal trivia.
Of course, there are also people there willing to publish their own creative inspirations, such as poems and short stories, all in the hopes of earning a few extra pennies.

What Are Your Rights?

When you write anything at all for Bubblews, you do all the hard work. You do the writing. You promote your posts. You try hard to find more people to view your work. And then Bubblews pay you a few pennies (if you get paid at all, that is....)
But what does Bubblews get out of the bargain?
Maybe it's time to read their Terms of Use a bit more closely and see what you're REALLY giving away.
If you look at Paragraph 5, Section C in some detail, you'll notice a lot of legal sounding jargon that looks as follows:
Bubblews.com owns a copyright in the selection, coordination, arrangement and enhancement of such content, as well as in the content original to it. You may not modify, publish, transmit, participate in the transfer or sale, create derivative works or in any way exploit any of the content, in whole or in part.

Is Your Work Still Your Own?

So, once you've published your 'work' on Bubblews, do you still own it? Or is the copyright for your work handed over to Bubblews in return for a few pennies?
What about those beloved photos of your kids and pets you posted to the site? How about those precious poems you labored over during their creation? Do the rights for those now belong to the site's owners?
I've seen it written that many people are happy to post "otherwise under-performing" articles on Bubblews in the hopes of making a few extra cents.
When the next big revenue-share site fad is launched and you want to shift your work over to the new site, what happens then? If you delete your own posts on Bubblews, they deduct money from your account. If you don't have much in your account, your bank balance will drop to a negative figure indicating that YOU owe THEM money for removing THEIR content!
Let's find the nicely worded section in the Terms of Use that explains that little bit of trivia more clearly. You'll find it in Paragraph 5, Section D:
...you grant Bubblews.com and its assignees and licensees right to review and make public any and all game play, film, photograph and record your name, nickname, pseudonym, persona, picture, biographical material, voice and/or likeness and to use and distribute the same in any manner or media whatsoever, by any and all means, media, devices, processes and technology now or hereafter known or devised anywhere in the universe at anytime in perpetuity, for any lawful purpose whatsoever, including advertising, publicity or trade.

Blowing Bubblews Back at You

In Paragraph 5, Section D, it actually states that by posting any of your work to Bubblews, you're handing it over to them in exchange for a few pennies. That's right, folks, they can do what they want with YOUR hard work. You accepted the pennies in payment and they get to do what they want with YOUR work, photos, artwork or whatever else you post to the site.
Aren't you generous?
By submitting material to any public area of this Site, or otherwise submitting materials to Bubblews.com, you automatically grant, or warrant that the owner of such material has expressly granted Bubblews.com the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive right and license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, edit, creative derivative works from, distribute, and sub-license such material (in whole or in part, through multiple tiers and/or via syndication) worldwide and/or to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or hereafter developed for the full term of any copyright that may exist in such material. You also permit any other user to access, view, store or reproduce the material for their personal use.

What About Using Graphics on Your Bubblews Posts?

Almost everyone uses graphics to highlight their Bubblews posts. Some people make their own graphics featuring nothing more than their name or random pictures. (yes, Bubblews owns those too - you submitted them. You got a couple pennies. They're not yours any longer...)
However, lots of people choose to use images from royalty-free stock sites. As long as you have the rights to use and reprint those images - and you credit the source correctly - you have no problem.
But if you spend even 5 minutes on the site, you'll see tons of Bubblews posts float past the 'recent additions' scroll featuring images that are copyrighted to other people. There are pictures of celebrities and products and name brands floating around on the site at any time.
So, what happens when the rightful copyright owners decide to take up legal action against Bubblews for publishing a copyrighted image? Yet again, their Terms of Use make it really clear how they intend to deal with that. Just read Paragraph 6, that states:
Any controversy, claim or dispute arising out of or relating to these Terms of Service, its breach or claimed breach shall be settled by arbitration administered by the American Arbitration Association in accordance with its Commercial Arbitration Rules in Virginia, except that, to the extent you have in any manner violated or threatened to violate Bubblews.com 's intellectual property or confidentiality rights, Bubblews.com may seek injunctive, monetary or other appropriate relief in any state or federal court in the State of Virginia (and Bubblews.com may assert both intellectual property causes of action and other appropriate causes of action in any such action), and you consent to exclusive jurisdiction and venue in such courts.
They even TELL you they're coming after you to seek compensation for any damages YOU caused them by publishing whatever you want in your 'bubbles'.

Did Bubblews Make it Clear Enough Yet?

Just in case you didn't read the rest of the Terms of Use on the Bubblews website, they decided to make it abundantly clear in Paragraph 8 that YOU will be held responsible if someone decides to pursue legal action against them in anyway, including coming after YOU for their expenses and fees:
You agree to defend, indemnify and hold harmless Bubblews.com, Bubblews.com affiliated companies and their respective directors, officers, employees, agents, assignees and licensees from and against all claims and expenses, including attorneys' fees, resulting from (i) any breach of these Terms of Service or your negligent and wrongful conduct; (ii) your use and access of this Site, including the posting of any content on this Site by you; and (iii) violation by you of any applicable law, rule or regulation.

Think Before You Bubble

If you're happy bubbling away on Bubblews, fine. Go for it! Have fun!
Just be sure you think about what you're posting - because you're giving away all your rights the moment you hit that submit button.
I still refuse to endorse any site that makes getting paid a random event.


Claiming Foreign Earnings as Export Income for International Freelance Writers

A reader left an interesting comment on a previous post about international freelance writing income: http://ravens-writing.blogspot.com.au/2010/08/benefits-of-being-international-writer.html

Emma asked:
Hi Bianca, I was wondering how you claim income if it is not a full rights sale of an article and the income is from a foreign country? For example, if you earn residual income from a company like Hubpages where you do not sell them your article, or if you earn income from an affiliate sale that came from an article written on your own site about a product? Do you still claim these as export income, or as regular income?

Basically, if you earn any income from a foreign country in a currency that is different to your own local currency, it's instantly foreign income - regardless of where you earned it.

For example: if you live in Canada and you sell an article to a US client and you're paid in US dollars, you earned foreign income.

Now, Emma's questions was more about residual income, such as through HubPages. In this case, you're not selling your own article, but you ARE still earning foreign income. The amount you earned is still paid to you in US dollars and it still forms part of your freelance business's revenue.

Obviously, you'll need to convert that income to your own local currency in order to spend it. But the amount you earned was still derived from a foreign source.

Personally, the Australian Taxation Office asks that I report ALL income in Australian dollars. Yet I earn the vast majority of my income in US dollars, Canadian dollars, British pounds or Euros.

So I keep a spreadsheet that shows me exactly how much I received in which currency AND what that amount of money equates to after it's been converted to Australian dollars. I also take careful note of any fees charged for the exchange, as those are tax deductible for me.

Then I report the TOTAL income amount to the Australian Taxation Office - but the form includes two separate components: one is for locally earned money and the other is for export income earned. It's important to keep the amounts separated wherever you can.

While the total income may be shown in your local currency, one component of your income will be comprised of foreign earnings. Those foreign earnings are usually taxed differently within most countries' taxation laws. It pays to ask your accountant how this works for your own country's laws and how you should report it, just to be sure you're getting it right.

What If You're Paid in Local Currency from a Foreign Source?

One aspect of foreign earnings that can be very tricky is when you're paid in your local currency, but the source is still a foreign client.

As an example, if you set up a Google Adsense account you can change the currency you receive to be the same as your local currency. I personally receive Australian dollars when I reach payout with Google.

However, the client is still American. The source of the income is still American, despite the fact that they pay my in Australian dollars.

Therefore, any income I earn from Adsense ads is automatically export earnings and is considered foreign income.

I hope this helps!