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It's a serious question. Can a Hub author bequeath ongoing hub earnings in a will, so that they continue to benefit next of kin for as long as HubPages is around and people keep clicking?
I don't know, but I'd certainly like to be earning enough money where that question would have occurred to me.
Interesting question - enough to make me read the TOS on a Sunday evening!
What if a person creates a legal entity - say a company (also called corporation) that creates an account on HP.
Reading the following extract, plus the remaining TOS does not seem to require that you be a natural person.I have seen a couple of HP profiles that "appear" to be owned by a non-natural individual - a service or a company.
Extract from HP TOS -
These terms and conditions ("Terms") govern the use of the HubPages website (the "Website") and all related services provided by HubPages, Inc. (the Website and related services are collectively referred to as the "Service") and constitute an agreement between you ("You") and HubPages, Inc. ("HubPages").
"Author": A person that creates an account on the Service.
You must register with HubPages and create an Author account (including selecting a screen name/username and subdomain name for Your Account) in order to create a Hub.
I don't know enough law to understand whether this implies that only natural person can be an Author. This is how I am looking at this - If the party at one end - i.e., HP, can be a non-natural person, then why cannot the other party be a non-natural person as well?
Why am I talking about a non-natural (but legal) entity? Because only they can outlive a natural person. Otherwise, an agreement will be void on the death of one party - the Author. No agreement, no HP account, no earnings.
Sorry, Paraglider. I know all of the following doesn't answer your question (and only "discusses" it), but I thought it might be stuff Hubber (and any online writers) might want to think about or get answers to. SiddSingh seems to answered your question, I guess. Thinking about this question made me think of some other things, though. I wrote my post before seeing Sidd's post, so some of what's in it is written "from scratch", rather than considering his post. That probably doesn't matter, though, because I was thinking of the whole Internet-writing thing and different things in TOS on writing sites, with Google or without Google, etc.
Since, in "offline life", a person can have a situation where his pre-demise work can keep earning and would generally, I think, go to an executor of his estate and/or someone specified in the the will; and since an Hubber can be inactive for a long time but still earn from his Hubs; I'd think there are two main questions:
1. Does the HP agreement that amounts to someone's Hubs earning money end with someone's death?
2. Does the agreement between Google (or Amazon or another affiliate) end upon the person's death?
I can see how HubPages could reserve the right to unpublish the Hubs and terminate any "dealings" with the account completely (if that's in the TOS). I can't imagine that if the Hubs remain published and keep earning that the law would allow those earnings not to go so someone "associated with/assigned to" the account.
A site like Helium says people stop earning if they don't rate and keep up their number of "stars", and they have built right in to the deal that an account is considered "inactive" after x number of months. The last time I looked at that site their thing was something like "no stars, no earnings"; no activity at all for x number days/months, the (essential) "end of the account" (I think). Either way, I can see how on any site x number of days/months/years inactive could mean the end of the account/relationship.
There are now people who specialize in dealing with having all Internet-related accounts (even things like e.mails, bank account passwords, etc.) in wills. All the Internet-account stuff is fairly new in terms of things like wills.
One question I have is this: Even if it's in the TOS of any company that the relationship between the person and the company ends with the person's death; in the case of writings that are left behind (and either left up on a site or not), would companies even have the right to put that in their TOS in view of the fact that the writing (like any other product or business left behind and still earning money) leaves behind that "product/business".
That goes back to that question of whether or not HP TOS has written into them (or whether something that's generally understood in legal circles with all such agreements between parties), but also whether or not the writing is removed from the site as a result of termination of the agreement/account (and since on HP the banning of accounts leads to unpublishing of everything, I'd think that would apply to all terminations (for whatever reason) of accounts.
Yet another question (although I think I know the answer to this one) is whether I could, for example, leave it in a will that my HP account is transferable to someone I name; with that person's being able to just take over from where I left off? I suspect it isn't but that might get into the question about whether writing sites should have the right to build into TOS that someone named in my will to "take over and manage my business (of HubWriting and/or any Internet writing) can't just pick up where I've left off.
Another question: IF Google has the right to say my account isn't transferable (as far as my dealings in general with them go), do they also have the right (or should they) to say they don't have to pay for any Ads on my Hubs/writing if there's no longer an agreement that I'm getting paid for them? Should there also be something that dictates they can't put ads on my Hubs/writing? If I leave it so that the associated/linked bank account is dealt with in the will, as well as the "any money from my writing thing" is dealt with; should (and does) Google or another affiliate have the right to say, "We're not paying at all - end of story; because we've decided to put that into our TOS".? Do they have a right (or should they) to put on a limit on the amount of time they keep paying? Maybe from the date of the person's death? The date that the will goes into effect? A year?
Legally, can any company who does business with another company/business stop doing business with that other company/business if/when it's left to someone else and for that reason alone, or is it something that's just up the discretion of anyone choosing to do business with someone else?
If I made, say, jewelry and had inventory; and was selling it from my home or from a little shop down the street; I think I'd have the write to leave my jewelry and business to someone else to pick up where I left off. With HubPages (or any other site like this), does "handing over" our stuff to be published on the site mean also handing over our rights to claim/treat our stuff as part of our business? On a site like Helium or AC writers hand over the right for those companies to do a lot of things with the writing, regardless of whether writers "keep their rights to it". Triond puts people's stuff out on other sites, but that's what gets them their earnings (as far as I know). Something like Helium and AC have people's stuff earning on the site, but then they do other stuff that doesn't, as far as I know, directly lead to the writer's earning from whatever they think up to do with the writing. On here, as far as I've ever known, HP isn't doing anything else with our Hubs other than leaving them posted (or not).
Another question is: If I don't incorporate or get in an LLC type of thing, or do something else to establish that my writing is a business; how does that affect what happens and doesn't happen with whatever I might put in a will? In the case of this kind of writing that we do online, is there something that can (or should or shouldn't) differentiate our writing from any other income-producing endeavor?
New legal issues have arisen with things like Internet accounts and wills; so even if how things have been done with business/writing etc. in the past has come to be taken for granted as "written in granite", might there be some laws that Internet writers need to be aware of, and might some of those laws need to be (as they say) re-visited now that Internet writing is the big thing that's it's become?
HP would never know if the author died - unless the author was well known etc.. so it would be possible to pass on the content as long as the person taking over has all the relevant passwords etc..
However the banking side of things is another matter entirely and a deceased persons accounts would be frozen etc.. Therefore an "heir" or anyone taking over an account would have to place their own addsense and paypal accounts into HP to continue being able to access the monies generated.
Whilst this is not a "legal" answer it may help.... but please don't die Paraglider as I am still reading your hubs..
i'm not sure of the answer...but recently (not a hubber) I removed writing from the net to protect the work because it is/was very special, etc....i'll figure out what to do with it later....for now...it's gone...poof!...dying these days has become more complicated with the 'net' included on the list of things to do/cancel etc....so remember all,...no more 'secrets to the grave' if you have any.....
I was just discussing this with my daughter yesterday! She knows my password, so at least if I go before the old man, he can enjoy my HP earnings.
Great idea, but what about the IRS? They will have something to say about earnings after death. When my mother passed away, the Social Security office went into her bank account and pulled back payments that occurred after her death. Shocking when you realize the ramifications of allowing direct deposit to your bank.
THe IRS will probably charge an inheritance tax anway. LOL.
I had also discussed this with my son and daughter. I told them that my online income will be part of their inheritance... now, they are pushing me to write more.
Great responses, everyone
I think, though, that it is pretty obvious that this is a huge grey area and we're all theorising in the dark. I wonder if any HP staffer will jump in with the 'official' answer?
If you read the TOS (and this is one of those scenarios where you really need to read it), it clearly states the Author retains ownership of their content, so that material could be passed down via a will, however the TOS also explicitly states that you may not "Impersonate another person, Author, entity, or any representative or employee of HubPages (note that such may include the screen name/username/subdomain name that You select for Your Author account)."
Given those guidelines, it seems that an inheritor or your estate could assume control of an account, provided they were not impersonating you and assumed the tax responsibilities for any earnings. The exact details of how that would work would undoubtedly involve lawyers, and would vary depending on what legal jurisdictions were involved.
Right, if I own the copyright, then I can leave my articles to an heir and I would be sure they had my log in info so they could do with the articles whatever they like. They could save them, move them to their own Hubpages or delete them and do whatever the heck else they are so inclined to do with them.
We're all dying to know the answer
It wouldn't be in HubPages' interest to delete the content. After all, they are getting their agreed percentage of revenue.
Also, I'm pretty sure it would be illegal (and unethical) for HP to absorb 100% of the revenue.
So, the sensible solution would seem to be to allow transfer of the account to a named beneficiary. Republishing all the hubs on a different account would hugely devalue them, at least for a time as the traffic would plummet (no back links).
When a print author dies, the books stay on the bookshop shelves and the proceeds go to the author's estate. This has been well established for hundreds of years. Something similar should apply to online content.
a simple :'non-transferabilty of account' in the TOS service would end the question, but I havn't found it or should I say havn't looked yet but will now that its been brought up. Digital Millenium Rights Act might be a place to look as well.
the funny thing is two people said they're dying to learn the answer to what happens if you die question. aha good stuff.
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