Findaway Voices Terms of Service
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Findaway Voices Terms of Service Update: What Authors Need to Know

IF YOU CURRENTLY have audiobooks on Findaway Voices by Spotify, please note the Findaway Voices Terms of Service (TOS) are changing. Recently, they announced changes to their TOS, and all hell broke loose.

The part that caused most of the uproar was as follows:

“Accordingly, you hereby grant Spotify a non-exclusive, transferable, sublicensable, royalty-free, fully paid, irrevocable, worldwide license to reproduce, make available, perform and display, translate, modify, create derivative works from (such as transcripts of User Content), distribute, and otherwise use any such User Content through any medium, whether alone or in combination with other Content or materials, in any manner and by any means, method or technology, whether now known or hereafter created, in connection with the Service, the promotion, advertising or marketing of the Service, and the operation of Spotify’s (and its successors’ and affiliates’) business, including for systems and products management, improvement and development, testing, training, modeling and implementation in connection with the Spotify Service. Where applicable and to the extent permitted under applicable law, you also agree to waive, and not to enforce, any “moral rights” or equivalent rights, such as your right to object to derogatory treatment of such User Content. Nothing in these Terms prohibits any use of User Content by Spotify that may be taken without a license.” (Emphasis added.)

It’s easy to see how non-lawyers like me could get excited. And authors took immediate action to delete their accounts with Findaway by Spotify because we all remember how Spotify treated musicians.

Findaway Voices revised their new Terms of Service.

Because of the uproar, Findaway/Spotify revised their proposed Terms of Service on February 16, 2024, removing the word “irrevocable” and trying to clarify how they had no evil intentions.

Here’s the new wording (in part):

“You retain ownership of your User Content when you post it to the Service. However, in order for us to provide the Service to you and distribute your User Content, we do need a limited license from you to that User Content. Accordingly, and without limiting any payment obligations under Section 5 herein, you hereby grant Spotify a non-exclusive, worldwide license to reproduce, make available, perform, display, distribute, and otherwise use your User Content on and in connection with the Spotify Service and the Distribution Services (as defined in Section 5). This license permits the use of the User Content by Spotify for systems and product management and development, testing, training, modeling, and implementation in connection with anti-piracy and anti-fraud measures and the discoverability, promotion, marketing, curation, distribution, and sale (or developing the user experience in connection therewith) of the User Content and the Spotify Service. Spotify’s distribution partners also have the right to distribute your User Content via the Distribution Services, subject to your right to discontinue distribution as described below in this Section 4 and/or to opt out from particular Distribution Partners as described in Section 5. For the sake of clarity, these Terms do not authorize Spotify to use User Content to create a new book, ebook or audiobook, or to use User Content to create a new, machine-generated voice without your permission.” Terms of Use (Emphasis added.)

Are the fireworks over? I don’t know. It depends on what smarter folks than me make of the new terms.

Update: Speaking of smarter folks, Victoria Strauss wrote about this topic on WriterBeware.blog on Monday: “Outrage Over New Terms of Use at Findaway Voices Forces Change – Writer Beware.”

Protect your intellectual property.

Michael W. Lucas wrote two blog posts about his decision to delete his account from Findaway Voices by Spotify. The links are in the Resources below.

I cannot say this better than Lucas did:

“Remember that you don’t write books. You create and license intellectual property. Read the Copyright Handbook. The new edition is on top of my TBR pile.0

“My strenuous advice to everyone is: do not become dependent upon any one business partner. Be able to pivot at any time. Do not take bad deals that lock you into a single customer or allow others to pillage your intellectual property.”

Protect your intellectual property!

You have a choice to make, and much depends on how trustworthy you think Spotify is.

There are other ways to distribute audiobooks.

Don’t panic, but stay alert.

Author Jessica S. Taylor (@authorjessicastaylor) reminded folks on Threads that Kobo lets you publish audiobooks direct.

Also, you can sell your audiobooks directly, no Spotify needed. I know, I know—easier said than done, but I strongly feel this is the way of the future.

Deleting your Findaway Voices by Spotify account.

If you decide to delete your account with Findaway Voices, email support@findawayvoices.com. 

Be firm but polite. Lucas includes a template for an email to send in his first post in the Resources below.

Findaway Voices and Spotify are in damage control mode. Also, I’m not a lawyer.

I am not a lawyer, and this is not intended as legal advice.

However, READ the Terms of Service. Also read any changes to your Terms of Service and remember whose lawyers wrote them. If you don’t understand the TOS, consult your lawyer before you commit.

Even if Findaway/Spotify has rectified the problems for now, remain vigilant and read the fine print.

For more information about Tools and Services for authors, check out:  Atticus Formatting Software Review | Writing Pursuits and Shields Up: Take the Five-Day Security Challenge | Writing Pursuits.

Question: Are you an author affected by the recent Findaway Voices Terms of Service update? Please share what you plan to do and why in the comments below.

Resources:

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