Shocker: Details of Facebook’s version of Patreon reveal very creator unfriendly terms

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Despite some bumps, it’s obvious that Patreon’s subcription model for crowdfunding is a success, to the tune of $500 million in creat or payouts in 2019. With that kind of money floating around, it’s no wonder that some other giant entities – including YouTube and Facebook –  want to tap into the cash stream and launch their own subcription models to support creators.

Facebook’s version, “Fan Subscriptions,” rolled out last year in a very private test, offering to charge fans $4.99 a month for access to exclusive content by their favorite creators.

The program just expanded to offer its services to more content creators. And as Tech Crunch reports, reading the terms reveals, to the surprise of no one, that they are vastly less favorable to content creators than Patreon:

Facebook  will drive a hard bargain with influencers and artists judging by the terms of service for the social network’s Patreon-like Fan Subscriptions feature that lets people pay a monthly fee for access to a creator’s exclusive content. The policy document attained by TechCrunch shows Facebook plans to take up to a 30 percent cut of subscription revenue minus fees, compared to 5 percent by Patreon,  30 percent by YouTube, which covers fees and 50 percent by Twitch.

Facebook also reserves the right to offer free trials to subscriptions that won’t compensate creators. And Facebook demands a “non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use” creators’ content and “This license survives even if you stop using Fan Subscriptions.”

As reported by The Verge, some creators who were invited to join set land speed records as they backed away:

The Hard Times founder Matt Saincome, who received an invitation to use Fan Subscriptions, also drew attention to Facebook’s unusual terms granting it use of creators’ content. It’s common for subscription services like Patreon to be granted a license to use creators’ work in order to promote the platform and the creator while the service is in use. But Facebook’s deal asks creators to turn over a license to their work that survives even after they stop using Fan Subscriptions.

Saincome predicts Facebook will use those expansive terms to lure in publishers, then raise its cut and take advantage of their content. Publishers and large page owners already have a strained relationship with Facebook due to the way it limits the reach of their posts and has changed its algorithm to prefer friends and family.

“It feels like they have no idea how much publishers distrust them,” Saincome told The Verge in a Twitter DM. “They just burned us! Why in the world would we build another audience there, ESPECIALLY if it includes money?”

While the 30% cut is bad enough, it’s the perpetual, royalty free worldwide license that has people most bothered. Why indeed would you give a tech giant –  that has shown time and again it has no interest in its users privacy or being honest  – the right to use your work forever?

Bad, bad deal.

While Facebook says that haven’ finalized that 30%  cut, the comics community was having none of it. Rob DenBleyker of the extremely popular Cyanide and Happiness webcomic tweeted that they had already been wooed and then banned over content issues:

As you might guess, Spike Trotman was just as blunt in calling out this bad deal for what it is:

 

And more:

While some wondered who would be foolish enough to sign up for this kind of deal, if we’ve learned anything over the last 10,000 years of human history, it;s that someone will always be foolish enough to fall for any con. Facebook already decimated the journalism industry with their fraudulent pivot to video, and by sucking up the majority of online ad dollars. For them to barge into the subscription crowdfunding model  – one that sustains a lot of marginalized creators – would be just as bad.

 

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