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Copyright Ownership vs Work for Hire - (HubPro Issue)

  1. Marcy Goodfleisch profile image94
    Marcy Goodfleischposted 2 years ago

    The sad thread about the HubPro edits is long, and this takes the discussion a different direction.

    Based on what happened to the hub in question on the other thread, there are questions about the contrast in copyright ownership vs 'work for hire.' 

    This site advertises that writers retain copyrights to their own work. That implies they will not be rewritten or messed with to the degree this hub appears to have been modified. Writing done as 'work for hire,' on the other hand, is writing done as a staff member, or for which you are paid a fee, and the ownership more or less transfers at that point. Those things can be 'heavily edited' (which is standard journalism 'code' for meaning the piece was ruined), but it is an egregious violation of the profession for a piece of writing to be reworked to an almost unrecognizable point and still retain the original writer's byline.

    This site, however, is not a 'work-for-hire' venue. It is frightening (appalling, and many other words) for a HubPro "editor" to basically rewrite a piece that is OWNED by one of the writers here.  Even if a writer participates in the HubPro program, this goes far beyond editing. 

    Perhaps there were misunderstandings by some HubPro editors about ownership of the content or how that program works, or the 'terms' offered to writers when we publish here.  If not, then the guidelines for the program need to be clarified and strongly enforced.  I agree with those who say it should be an 'opt-in' program rather than 'opt-out.'

    Someone on the other thread mentioned HubPages needs to devote more staff members to getting rid of bad content (can't remember the term they used, but it was very appropriate - morticians or some such thing).  I agree - that would be a far better investment at this point. HubPages has a perfect right to delete or unpublish bad content. It does not have a right to 'rewrite' content.

    1. sallybea profile image97
      sallybeaposted 2 years ago in reply to this

      Well said, perhaps it would be better for Hub Editors to spend time more time on all the requests asking for help to get hubs featured.

      1. Sue Adams profile image93
        Sue Adamsposted 2 years ago in reply to this

        + a million

    2. bravewarrior profile image95
      bravewarriorposted 2 years ago in reply to this

      Hear, hear Marcy! That's exactly why I opted out of HubPro. We get notifications when our hubs are unpublished or unfeatured and the reasons are listed when we go in to edit them. I don't want anyone messing with my copy unless I specifically ask for editing feedback.

      When editors mess with your work, are you made aware of who that person is? And aren't the authors supposed to have the last say before changes are made? That's how I do it when someone hires me to edit a project. The author has the final say, not the editor.

      1. Marcy Goodfleisch profile image94
        Marcy Goodfleischposted 2 years ago in reply to this

        Bravewarrior - in newspaper writing, editors can make changes (generally not a complete rewrite, though) and they won't check with the reporter.  Some are smart enough to touch base when its a fact issue, but the paper basically owns the story at that point & they're working under deadlines, so mistakes happen.

        I have never seen a situation like the one posted in the other thread (where Aneegma is the OP).  I hope HubPages will consider auditing the program to determine whether other hubs have been changed in ways that significantly transform original content.

        Some writers use pen names here, and that insulates them from damage to a degree (if their work was changed beyond recognition). But if they use the pen name in several venues, and if their work has been revised significantly, it can affect their reputations. Other writers use their real names, and most certainly could be at risk professionally from having significant edits made to their content.

        1. bravewarrior profile image95
          bravewarriorposted 2 years ago in reply to this

          I agree with you, Marcy. There's a difference between editing and re-writing.

          Hearing this horror story makes me all the more certain of my decision to opt out.

        2. janshares profile image89
          jansharesposted 2 years ago in reply to this

          +1 This is why what happened is so scary, Marcy. Altered posts can confuse your readers and ruin an established reputation.

          1. RachaelOhalloran profile image85
            RachaelOhalloranposted 2 years ago in reply to this

            I said that on the other thread. The editor interjected the words "my personal experience" which leads the reader to believe it is the author speaking. Aneegam wrote in the 3rd person, the editor changed it to 1st person, then added over 400 words and a Do's and Don't's section, which was absent from the original hub. I won't go into it all again here, but suffice it to say that this editor seriously violated the author's copyright by 1) changing the content, but most importantly 2) by not waiting for an answer to the email before digging in to totally change Aneegma's article so that she barely recognized it when she signed on.
            It is truly scary that this even happened at all.

            1. Rochelle Frank profile image88
              Rochelle Frankposted 2 years ago in reply to this

              I have had two hubs edited, and have recently received a survey from the HubPages team about my experience. I assume this is eventually going to all or most of the people who have been through the process.
              Hopefully this will get the full story out, so HP can see how this is working. My evaluation was about 65/35 there were some good points and some I didn't agree with. Overall it was positive, since I could re-edit the edit.

              1. Marcy Goodfleisch profile image94
                Marcy Goodfleischposted 2 years ago in reply to this

                This is good to know, Rochelle - I am sure there are some very positive experiences with HubPro edits, and that's important to share.

              2. Aneegma profile image75
                Aneegmaposted 2 years ago in reply to this

                I haven't received that yet and I highly doubt they will send me that survey as I gave them a big piece of my mind about how they've ruined my work and decreased my credibility. I have now come to understand that HP is a family business so of course family rules!  They will only send surveys to those that found it useful but based on the various forum discussions and my experience this program is a disaster for us writers at least. After all these guys care more about making money at whatever costs even if its at the expense of writer's credibility.

            2. Millionaire Tips profile image89
              Millionaire Tipsposted 2 years ago in reply to this

              To be fair, it was probably not the editor who decided that the Hubber does not have to give approval before hubs are edited.

              Just to play the devil's advocate though, what do you think should happen to hubs that have been abandoned?  Someone wrote here once, and decided to let them stay here instead of moving them.  If editing the hubs (in a good way) can make the hub and the site better in the eyes of the reader and Google, should they be allowed to do that?

              1. janshares profile image89
                jansharesposted 2 years ago in reply to this

                Only if there is explicitly written criteria added to the TOS giving HP the right to do so. For example, when a hubber joins HP, he should know up front that if all interaction and activity ceases for one year (365 consecutive days), including forums, Q&A, and commenting, hubs on that domain may be edited when needed. The phrase "when needed" also requires explicitly written criteria. For example, empty ad capsules, no traffic for 3 months, broken links, etc. Anyhey, just my cents.

                1. Millionaire Tips profile image89
                  Millionaire Tipsposted 2 years ago in reply to this

                  The TOS definitely needs to be amended to explain this, and Paul said he was working on that. The TOS should have been changed before the work started on these types of hubs.

    3. flycatcherrr profile image83
      flycatcherrrposted 2 years ago in reply to this

      This is a very odd situation, indeed.

      According to Hubpages itself (cite: http://hubpages.com/faq/#whoownscontent):
      "The content is entirely yours. We simply provide the technology to support it. You may add a Creative Commons License to your work if you feel it’s necessary. /  If someone on HubPages has used your copyrighted content without permission, please file a copyright complaint."

      If these terms have now changed - if HubPages has decided that it is now a "work for hire" site versus a revenue-sharing platform -   the FAQ really does need to be rewritten ASAP to reflect the new terms re content ownership. It would also behoove HP admin to notify all content copyright owners (Hubbers) that they (HubPages) have decided to change the terms of service unilaterally and retroactively.

      1. Marcy Goodfleisch profile image94
        Marcy Goodfleischposted 2 years ago in reply to this

        Flycatcher - I am by no means saying the terms have changed - I am simply pointing out that (perhaps) some changes made through HubPro edits may have treated content as though it was no longer owned by the writer. I suspect this was a misunderstanding of the intent of that program.  But the topic needs to be discussed and the 'terms' need to be clarified.

        Writers who do not 'opt-out' of the HubPro program need to know to what degree their work can be edited. The example discussed in the thread that has prompted many comments goes far beyond what writers might expect to see happen from those edits.

        1. flycatcherrr profile image83
          flycatcherrrposted 2 years ago in reply to this

          Agreed, "the topic needs to be discussed and the 'terms' need to be clarified."

    4. NateB11 profile image93
      NateB11posted 2 years ago in reply to this

      I think admin is trying to make the site better with HubPro. They have made some really good decisions in the past that have gotten the site out of slumps. I tend to trust them.

      However, I would agree that, at least, editors should have some guidelines on what they can and can't do. Someone said they changed titles on their Hubs. That to me would be off-limits. We fashion our titles specifically certain ways. Changing a title could have disastrous results since we rely on search engine traffic.

      I would hate to have a lot of hard work flushed down the drain, no doubt about that.

      1. Suzanne Day profile image96
        Suzanne Dayposted 2 years ago in reply to this

        Without having experienced HubPro myself, I suggest that changing titles if done by someone experienced in SEO would help immensely in improving quality. Google needs the hub content to match the titles perfectly or it will frown on traffic. You can't call a hub about skin disorders something like "How I Made Myself Beautiful In Just 30 Days" when it really should be called "Types Of Skin Disorders And How To Fix Them". No-nonsense titles.

        However, I haven't had the experience of these editors so cannot tell what they have been doing.

        1. NateB11 profile image93
          NateB11posted 2 years ago in reply to this

          Yes, if an expert SEO wanted to change my titles, then have at it.

          1. WriteAngled profile image91
            WriteAngledposted 2 years ago in reply to this

            I would never give anyone a free hand to change the actual content of what I write, and that is why I opted out of Hubpro right from the start.

            However, I would be delighted to have suggestions for better titles, subtitles and captions, and would probably accept all of them. I used to spend hours with the keyword tools trying to find some good words for titles, but it did not make a scrap of difference to my views.

            1. sallybea profile image97
              sallybeaposted 2 years ago in reply to this

              This discussion is really beginning to bother me.
              I would love to see a show of hands or a poll to see:-
              1.   How many people are satisfied or dissatisfied with the program.
              2.   How many people thus far have had their hubs edited.
              3.   How many have opted out without even considering it,
              I want to make an informed decision and knowing the facts would make this so much easier.

              1. mary615 profile image93
                mary615posted 2 years ago in reply to this

                Here's my "show of hands":  I opted out when the program was first introduced!

                1. sallybea profile image97
                  sallybeaposted 2 years ago in reply to this

                  Thanks I appreciate your 'show of hands'

                  1. Suzanne Day profile image96
                    Suzanne Dayposted 2 years ago in reply to this

                    I opted out too. I didn't think my hubs needed extra work and managed to get a grip on the SEO by myself. I think the program would be useful to anyone who is feeling frustrated over lack of views or who feels their hubs need a bit more work to make them look and read better.

                  2. Marcy Goodfleisch profile image94
                    Marcy Goodfleischposted 2 years ago in reply to this

                    Sally:

                    I don't know enough about the program to be satisfied or not - when I first heard about it, I could see the potential benefit.

                    To my knowledge, none of my hubs have been edited (they probably don't need 'rewriting,' but could be better in terms of SEO).

                    I opted out after reading the horror story on the other thread. The before & after example was enough to scare me away.  This is not an opinion of whether or not that hub could have been improved; I opted out because the changes went far beyond anyone's definition of 'edits.' 

                    FYI - I am not sure I realized this was an opt-out program; I really didn't pay attention to it.  Never in my wildest dreams (or nightmares), though, would I have envisioned the type of wholesale rewrite we saw in the example that spawned this discussion.

                2. TIMETRAVELER2 profile image93
                  TIMETRAVELER2posted 2 years ago in reply to this

                  Me, too

                  1. sallybea profile image97
                    sallybeaposted 2 years ago in reply to this

                    Thanks  TIMETRAVELLER - you have spent so much time updating your hubs, I can't imagine anyone else knows your subject as well as you do.

        2. ologsinquito profile image93
          ologsinquitoposted 2 years ago in reply to this

          I'd jump at the chance for expert SEO advice coming from the HP team on my titles.

    5. TIMETRAVELER2 profile image93
      TIMETRAVELER2posted 2 years ago in reply to this

      I opted out of that program as well as the EC program simply because I want my work to be my work and appear on my own subdomain.  However, it is my understanding that if a writer does not like the edits, he can change his article back to its original form.  Any writer should always keep copies of the text of articles "just in case".  Apparently Aneegma did not do that, unless I am missing something here.

      I agree that the efforts of the team are being misplaced in setting up a program like this.  They might better require people to produce a certain number of hubs that go through a rigorous QAP so that the team does not have to go back and "edit" hubs to make them better.  All the editing in the world is not going to improve the work of someone whose use of English is poor or has no writing ability to begin with.

      The team should not exist for the purpose of reteaching writing skills, that should have been learned by people long before they ever arrived at HP.

      1. Suzanne Day profile image96
        Suzanne Dayposted 2 years ago in reply to this

        Absolutely, totally agree 10,000% - especially the bit about a rigorous QAP.

        Paul - this really is the main solution besides cleaning up HP.

        It can be quite insulting and a waste of talent for good writers to be thrown in with people who cannot write English.

        If I want to learn Spanish, do I go on a Spanish writing site and publish badly written articles in the hope that people will help me and pay me for it? Do I go to Belgium and become an affiliate marketeer overnight with someone else's help while getting paid the same as the Belgium locals? Why is HP helping everyone to learn English? What a waste of resources.

        Seriously, people who cannot write English need writing sites in their own languages. Many of them are only here for money anyway.

        Having said this, there are promising people whose can write lots of hubs and can be future valuable assets to HP if they were given just a little guidance.

        But the line has to be drawn somewhere about what English skills are acceptable and what aren't.

        1. Marcy Goodfleisch profile image94
          Marcy Goodfleischposted 2 years ago in reply to this

          Suzanne - I agree completely about the issue with poor English.  I'm sure the posts we see on the forum that are written in broken English are only a small fraction of the issues.

          I certainly sympathize with people who are not fluent in English but have hopes of making a 'ton of money'  on this site, but if they lack the skills to write, this isn't the place to be.  As you say, I might hope to be a computer programmer, but I don't have that training, so I'd be harmful to a company that allowed me to program its computers.

          There are valid reasons that writing is considered a profession -  it requires skill and experience. Don't cheapen our profession by allowing broken English on this site.

          Don't mock our integrity by allowing people whose 'hubs' consist of copied textbooks to remain on the site in any manner. I've reported numerous hubs or 'Hubbers' where there are major and obvious issues in the quality of writing in summaries compared to the 'perfect and academic' content of the hubs. But they do not get removed.

    6. Suzanne Day profile image96
      Suzanne Dayposted 2 years ago in reply to this

      I do feel incentives help people stay here and publish more. They will also help improve quality. One big hurting stick is what is needed to get rid of the rubbish.

      If Paul needs help finding the rubbish, maybe existing hubbers could be incentivised to report it more to a team of staff dedicated to cleaning up the site?

    7. JayeWisdom profile image92
      JayeWisdomposted 2 years ago in reply to this

      Regardless of the HP team's intentions with their editing program, I opted out. I do need to update some of my older hubs' content (when I have time), but I trust my own editorial skills.  If other HP members want to use the site editors, that's their business. I just want my own work left alone. If HP didn't have the "opt out" choice, I would be long gone from HubPages.

    8. Cardisa profile image92
      Cardisaposted 2 years ago in reply to this

      This is exactly my point re the thread I started. HP  is in breech of their own rules. They tell us time and time again that they do not own the copyrights to our articles which means the writer must give consent to have said article(s) edited.

  2. Paul Edmondson profile image
    89
    Paul Edmondsonposted 2 years ago

    We will make it more prominent regarding editing and to the extent a hub may be edited soon.

    We are collecting feedback and working through the plans for the next generation of editing.

    1. Marisa Wright profile image92
      Marisa Wrightposted 2 years ago in reply to this

      I am not at all sure this would be an issue if the HubPro program was made "opt-in" instead of "opt-out".   People who opt in would take care to ensure their email address was current and HP was in their contacts list so they would be notified when an edit occurred, and would then be able to accept or reject edits in good time.

      1. Suzanne Day profile image96
        Suzanne Dayposted 2 years ago in reply to this

        It was a bit of a conundrum with the opt in or opt out business.

        I suggest that there was sooooo much content that needed fixing that it was thought that giving people the chance to opt in meant that not enough people would. I think that there was an executive decision to clean it up the quickest way possible, by removing the barriers in the way of getting at content needing help. However I was surprised by WF's statement that only 1000 hubs had been edited.....thought more would have been done - and I wouldn't know how helpful the "help" actually was.

        While I'm not personally sure I agree with the ethics of this, I think it was done in order to get HP moving in a better direction - and fast.

    2. JayeWisdom profile image92
      JayeWisdomposted 2 years ago in reply to this

      Paul - I request that HubPages keep the option to NOT be edited by the site's new editorial staff, whether it's an "opt-in" or "opt-out" choice.  Otherwise, you will lose this writer. I don't need or want editing by another individual.  I AM a long-time editor.

      However, I realize that my titles (especially those for earlier hubs) are not strong with SEO keywords. If a staff member wants to SUGGEST new titles or changes in my titles, I'm open to suggestions, but not arbitrary changes.

      By the way, I've changed some of my titles in the past; however, the original title still shows in the URL for each of those hubs. Can that be changed? Is there a way to correct the URL?
      Jaye

    3. Cardisa profile image92
      Cardisaposted 2 years ago in reply to this

      I still say, for those that feel they need an editor, allow the editor to make notes on the hub. Allow the writer to approve notes before publishing any changes. That would mean that you would have to implement something akin to Wordpress that allows you to save changes without publishing. So the hubber can either publish changes, save changes or delete changes without messing with the hub.

      Another option would be to employ the editor before the hub is published. This would mean that the hubber gets a chance to preview the editor's work before they hit the publish button.

      1. Marcy Goodfleisch profile image94
        Marcy Goodfleischposted 2 years ago in reply to this

        Cardisa - one problem all editors see is that many writers honestly don't realize their work needs improvement.

        One way HP could manage the HubPro concept would be to unpublish hubs that need work, have the editors contact the writer with specific things that need to be changed, and help guide them through the process.  This might create a loss of some views during the downtime when a hub isn't published, but it would put the burden back on the Hubber, would help them improve as writers, and would help clean up bad or substandard writing here.

        If the site is after quality, decisions should not be based on traffic. That's what we are seeing, though. The site's overall traffic would plummet if all bad content were to be removed, because some really awful content gets high traffic.  Even hubs that get minimal, trickle-in traffic add to the site's revenue (you can translate that to mean 'its ability to stay afloat').

        1. Cardisa profile image92
          Cardisaposted 2 years ago in reply to this

          Marcy, I see your point. The problem with that would be similar t the one by the OP of the other thread, where her hub was better than the edited version (I had a chance to see both). If that is going to work, the hubber must first agree that the hub needs work and then give permission for the hub to be unpublished while hubber and editor collaborate on changes.

          1. Marcy Goodfleisch profile image94
            Marcy Goodfleischposted 2 years ago in reply to this

            Cardisa - I had a chance to see both, too (for a brief time, there were three versions posted in that thread).  The style in the OP's original hub was different from the edit, and I can understand the idea of suggesting that it be changed - it had a distinct 'blog' feel, and maybe whomever decides which hubs get 'helped' by the HubPro staff wanted to take it a different direction.  But the traffic on the original hub was healthy (according to what the OP said), so changes should have been done carefully.  The edited version that made so many changes was awful, though - low-quality, horrible images, and nothing 'unique' or compelling about the writing.  It looked like a substandard webzine piece.

            1. Cardisa profile image92
              Cardisaposted 2 years ago in reply to this

              Reading the final version, I was at a loss for words because it didn't seem like a professional edited that hub.

  3. profile image0
    calculus-geometryposted 2 years ago

    Sometimes I wonder why Paul E lets us write here if he doesn't trust us with our own work.   Perhaps someday he replace us all with a writing staff consisting solely of his family and hot Indian aunty aficionados. (These categories may not be mutually exclusive. tongue)

    1. Suzanne Day profile image96
      Suzanne Dayposted 2 years ago in reply to this

      Well if it's the last year on the Titanic, instead of rearranging the deck chairs, we should really be repairing that giant hole in the ship. Hence all the editing and changes going on.

      I wonder if Paul has thought about chatting with a specialist strategic consultant in the matter (maybe an SEO specialist or someone who advised the other good writing sites on future direction?) I'm sure they would say what most of us are suggesting already re: improvements.

      1. NateB11 profile image93
        NateB11posted 2 years ago in reply to this

        This is the only good writing site left, so I'm thinking we don't want to consult with one of the experts from other sites. Their ships sank.

  4. aesta1 profile image89
    aesta1posted 2 years ago

    I think that the HubPro editors can send their suggestions to the Hub Author and if they fail to respond in several days, to unfeature the article as these have not met HP standards. Maybe, the Hub Author will try to find out and address the suggested edits.

  5. LongTimeMother profile image98
    LongTimeMotherposted 2 years ago

    The concept of having editors actively assess individual hubs held great appeal when I first heard about it. I thought I would enjoy receiving feedback from a professional editor, assuming there might be something they know that I don't about writing online in 2014.

    However as I learn more about the role of editors, I am increasingly concerned they may cause more harm than good.

    Quite apart from the questionable skill of individual editors, I query the process of choosing hubs. It doesn't seem fair to devote time and effort rewriting hubs for people who get lucky with their topic choices, keywords etc and attract good traffic stats in the short term.

    Is this why editing is compulsory unless hubbers opt out? Does HP anticipate that many of the hubs chosen for future editing belong to hubbers who really don't write well and are unlikely to be able to successfully make recommended improvements all by themselves?

    If this is the case, I believe it discriminates against good writers with little understanding of SEO.

    1. Susana S profile image92
      Susana Sposted 2 years ago in reply to this
 
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