Hackaday Terms Of Use (aka: The Lawyers Are Coming!)


Hackaday has posted Terms of Use and Privacy Policy documents which you should read. These can also be accessed through the Policies Page which is linked in the footer. We’ve edited this post to take up less room since it will be sticky for a few days. Original text and updates after the jump.

Original Post Body:

This is happening. Hackaday is posting legal documents to which all readers are bound. We figure the least that we can do is be up-front about it. So here’s a conspicuous post that will remain “sticky” for a few days.

We’ve had a policies page for quite a long time, but you’d be hard pressed to figure out how to get to it; now it’s part of the footer. Our policies are a straight-forward statement of how we look at content use and ownership, and what the readers can expect from us. We’ve updated it and twisted some legal arms to keep that summary (succinct and understandable policies are important to us). But we did concede the full publication of Terms of Use and a Privacy Policy which you should add to your reading list.


1/31/14 15:24 PST – I went through the HTML for these documents (which had been exported from Word) and fixed the multitude of styling problems. They are now presented in a much better format and the font color sticks out more from the background as requested in the comments. I also fixed the “youronlinechoices” link.

[Image Source]

203 thoughts on “Hackaday Terms Of Use (aka: The Lawyers Are Coming!)

  1. what are you trying to say?

    is hackaday getting more and more legal threats?

    why not ignore them they are probably trying to phish or even plant malware into the hackaday servers or scare hackaday into paying money (the cyberlocker scare tactic)

    1. No I’m not saying that we’re getting more threats. I’m saying that the legal counsel that we have available to use if we need them have advised that we need to publish our policies so that readers know what they can expect from Hackaday.

      1. You hit a nail in the head – legal counsel/devil/lawyer/first one to die if shit hits the fan is THE ONLY person that will read TOS. No normal person gives a flying duck about it, not to mention its unenforceable in civilized world (EU).

        Basically guy you pay for doing ‘something’ (most likely not much) decided to invent more things he could do to legitimize his salary. This is how Aaron Swartz thing started.

        All Lawyers do is play blame games. Reminds me of a CIO course I took where retarded&clueless professor had zero knowledge about actual technology and all she cared about was shifting eventual blame on someone else. According to her a role of CIO was not securing infrastructure, but keeping legal documents pointing at convenient scapegoats. All above board and PCI compliant.

        1. The problem is not that one lawyer is playing a game, but all lawyers are playing the same game. So if HaD doesn’t put the warnings up and someone posts something that violates someone’s copyright, or someone builds something that they see here and hurt themselves, HaD could be held liable through lawsuits. I don’t imagine that the concept of frivolous lawsuits doesn’t exist in the EU. Maybe it’s more of a problem in the US (I don’t know), but I’m sure people sometimes sue for stupid things and win in the EU as well.

        2. I think there was a Dilbert cartoon where he signs a software agreement that somewhere says that he’ll be “Bill Gates’ slave for life” or something like that. One could really put anything in there – kind of makes you wonder how that kind of thing is legally binding.

  2. I concur it had to be done, and kudos for doing it in such a upfront and clear way. However, could you please use something a little more readable than dark grey on black? That way your policies would be as clear as the post about them ;)

          1. No it wasn’t, I can tell because jokes are funny ;)

            Seriously there are some decent jokes you could make about legal documents and being hard to read; but just some comment about color perception does nothing.

  3. Here is my terms of use.

    Should hackaday.com or any of its subsidiaries reply to a GET HTTP request, or the equivalent in any other protocol, these terms and conditions are binding:

    No code of any kind shall be run on my processor without express written consent.

    No third party content shall be included within the communication including but not limited to data from supplyframe.com, google.com, quantserve.com, wordpress.com, wp.com, chartbeat.com, googleusercontent.com, gstatic.com, google-analytics.com, or facebook.net.

    Any data storage, processing, or bandwidth fees shall be paid by the respondent of said GET request.

    Any and all information given by me are exclusively my intellectual property and copying it without expressed written permission will be deemed an act of copyright infringement.

    Hackaday.com and subsidiaries hereby forfeit the right to trial. Any legal remediation requested by them will go into arbitration to be paid by them and chosen by me.

    Terms and conditions may change at any time without notice.

    Fun fact: This is as legal as any other EULA or terms of use.

      1. I hereforthwithby declare meself to be the allmighty imperiorator of the internets.

        I accept none of your dictatorial policies and will continue to use the site as I see fit.
        BTW Supplyframe, I like your advertisements :3

      2. Fun fact, Hackaday can’t enforce their terms of use on the literal “readers”, which is the joke that I believe ks is making. It should say “contributors” in the original post.

    1. “Any and all information given by me are exclusively my intellectual property and copying it without expressed written permission will be deemed an act of copyright infringement.”

  4. Since it’s ONLY enforceable after it goes to court, say anything you want, and like all legal scuffles in the States, the side with the better lawyers (and deepest pockets) will win.

    You’re on the losing side already, since I can go to your site, read any article, post a comment, all without seeing your “policies” or stating that I’ve read and agree to your terms.

    This is a waste of time, I hope you didn’t actually pay for this batch of nonsense.

    It also kills whatever “street cred” you hoped to have earned – spouting legal bs and saying “hey look at us, we’re badass hackers/makers” is pretty much opposite ends of the ideological spectrum.

    1. Fun Fact: “street cred” is super-duper overrated if you’re over the age of 30. Or it should be, the truth is far more interesting than the cool jacket and ironic glasses it’s wearing.

    2. I am hard pressed to see how posting a Privacy Policy or TOS would make anyone say they are a “badass”.

      But there is exactly nothing wrong with saying this is what we consider acceptable use here, here is what we own, here is what you own, you are giving us permission to use it, etc.

      Since when was making things clearer a bad thing. Did you actually read those links?

    3. I once read that website legal rules are up to 3x more enforceable than the EULA they print on the little sticker that holds your DVD in it’s package, and up to 4x as legal as the agreement you click on when you download Flash Player.

        1. One thing I noticed about technology advancement is look at Star Trek TOS and the interface is levers and push buttons. The technology of interfaces seem to advance more then the device itself. We are making computers smaller but the interfaces change so much more.

          1. Actually, the joke is that for something with lots of analog data points, levers are one of the most efficient controls found. It must just be a major coincidence that they were one of the first discovered when machines came out and people needed responsive interfaces for safety and convenience… yep, totally not inevitable. ;)

      1. Ask for credit card details.

        Under 18s will give you fake ones, over 18 and stupid will give you real ones, anyone that refuses is over 18 with at least a few smarts.

        (There a plenty of stupid people with credit cards, right? They won’t notice a few extra charges… Hold on, I need to go change something…)

  5. Post a technical article – 12 replies in 6 days. Ask for an opinion – 25 replies in less than 1 hour.

    Sigh… everybody has an opinion. Can you guess how many people want to hear it? Yep, just one.

  6. Considering your ENTIRE SITE is based on the ‘fair use’ section of copyright:

    “(in US copyright law) the doctrine that brief excerpts of copyright material may, under certain circumstances, be quoted verbatim for purposes such as criticism, news reporting, teaching, and research, without the need for permission from or payment to the copyright holder.”

    I could be wrong (happens more often then not) but i don’t think you’ve said anything of that nature in your terms of use. I like the community of hackaday, the idea, but maybe not the direction the ‘company’ is going. I understand having a terms of use page is a nice fall back but if you start to enforce the document that was given to you by your lawyers, you will have a fury of opensource type people that will put terms of use on their pages requiring written consent from them before you can post their content.

    You guys should probably watch some puppets.


  7. And on that note HackADay. It’s be real, but anytime a community styled site starts throwing up legal script… It’s time to move on…

    See you on the flip side everyone…. I’m gone

    1. Guten tag. I’m sure they let you comment once more when you figure out what the small shit not to sweat is. Thing is where you can say this today, and reading Hackaday posts tomorrow without anyone easily knowing, the statement is a bit hollow

  8. Q: Why do behavioral scientists prefer lawyers to rats for their experiments?
    A1: There are more of the lawyers to work with.
    A2: Lawyers are more expendable.
    A3: Lawyers do more harm to society than rats.
    A4: Lab assistants are less likely to develop a bond or feel sympathy for them.
    A5: Rats arouse more feelings of compassion and humanity.
    A6: They multiply faster.
    A7: Rats have an inate right to life and liberty.
    A8: Animal rights groups will not object to their torture.
    A9: Rats have more dignity.
    A10: There are some things even a rat won’t do.
    A11: They’re easier to catch… just tell somebody you want to sue someone and in no time, you’ll have 10 of them at your feet.
    A12: So you can brainwash them not to run for political office.

    1. Q: Why do researchers prefer to use rats rather than lawyers for their experiments?
      A: Lawyers share less in common with humas than rats do, so studies on rats are more likely to yield results applicable to human beings.

      Karen Selick is an interesting person. A Canadian Lawyer, she’s written quite a number of well-reasoned articles, which she hosts on her (rather plain) site. I’ve linked to two:

      “If the Joke Fits…”

      “Reasons to Rethink Patents”

  9. Funny how practically only seem to be three possble reactions:
    -“meh, had to be done”
    -“I am a world-renowned internet law person and I say ToS are obviously unenforceable and pointless why no I can’t cite any caselaw”
    -“That’s it I’m never coming here again you’ll all be sorry now that I’m gone”

    1. I’m very, very sorry that people with the last response have (threatened to) do so. Very sorry. It makes me so very, very sad when people threaten to…not read…something I read. Very sad.

      So sad.

      1. Well since there has already been one Shakespeare reference, let me give another when I say that I think their bluster is just sound and fury signifying nothing. I very much doubt they are going anywhere. There will still be here tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow…

  10. I’m unhappy with the User Content section of the ToS. Did anyone actually read this thing? To start:

    >You assume all risks associated with use of your User Content, including any reliance on its accuracy, completeness or usefulness by other Users, or any disclosure of your User Content that makes you or any third party personally identifiable.

    So I become liable for some idiot following what I did? Even if you edit that same content? Huh.

    >You agree to irrevocably waive (and cause to be waived) any claims and assertions of moral rights or attribution with respect to your User Content.

    Say WHAT?

        1. That is not what they are saying. What they are saying is that IF any liability occurs from YOUR words — based on the legal definition of liability — then the liability doesn’t include HaD for simply transmitting them. This is standard Common Carrier/DMCA Safe Harbor stuff.

          Now I am not a lawyer, and neither than you, but I had a bit of experience around this, and this is my general understanding: You have to remember that a contract cannot simply change the law.

          So if HaD edits your words then the ruling would almost certainly be that you were not liable — if the person suing based their actions only on the HaD version, and that was the only reason for the liability claim. In which case you would be fine.

          And in my opinion this is no different than what would have happened if a liability suit would have been filed last month, and whatever liability would apply to you, would not apply to them. Which is all they are saying.

          1. @Thopter: But you still need to _prove_ that your copy is the original. Do you have a notary handy for each and every copy you make? If not, the your copy may be argued tainted and is inadmissible.
            Anyway, it is still wrong because the accuser gets to allege anything while you are forced to prove innocence. That is not how it is supposed to work. The _accuser_ needs to prove your guilt.

    1. “Moral rights” are not common in the USA. In other countries, they allow the copyright holder the “moral right” to revoke a license almost at will.

      So imaging HAD’s position, in 5 years in some anon wants their post removed but can’t prove it was their email account. Moral rights say HAD has to remove it, while the license says otherwise. Simple cya.

      1. “So imaging HAD’s position, in 5 years in some anon wants their post removed but can’t prove it was their email account. Moral rights say HAD has to remove it, while the license says otherwise. Simple cya.”

        That is inaccurate. If one posts something anonymously, one revokes the right to have said post deleted. Only identifiable individuals who can prove their identification and the fact of their post can demand that a post be deleted.

        On the other hand, it would be fun to watch what happens when an attorney is stupid enough to file a suite regarding such a matter in a court where the Judge would be offended by the filing of such a case that is obviously without cause or merit.

  11. Well, that is it then. No more hints from me. I _do_not_like_ the TOS and cannot accept those terms. They are totally over the top and an extreme disgrace. You have gone the Instructables way and that is a Bad Thing(TM).

    You /should/ have taken a good look at the Gitorious TOS, which is clear, concise and good for all parties.

    Your TOS is abusive (at least sections 3.2, 3.4, 4, 5.3, 10.2, 10.4) and shows that the lawyers have taken over the site. There is no hacker spirit left in this at all.

    If it stays like this, then I’d say: So long and thanks for all the fish.

    1. +1e6
      I hope HAD are going to ask content providers for their explicit consent going forwards prior to publication. I for one would not consent to republication/linking based on the provided terms.

    2. In the following comment, “you” denotes SupplyFrame, Inc. While I make a comment about editors, I mean in no way to disparage the efforts of Mike S for today’s posting, or for the many articles I have enjoyed here that had his name on the byline.

      The combination of 3.1 (sole liability for any content I generate at hackaday) and 3.4 (the reservation of the right of SupplyFrame to edit that same content) is unacceptable.

      Editors need not be particularly technical, and I won’t expose myself to liability for their mistakes by posting my User Generated Content here anymore.

      As for shouting in section 5.3 (” IF YOU ARE A CALIFORNIA RESIDENT, YOU HEREBY WAIVE CALIFORNIA CIVIL CODE SECTION 1542…”): first, use you indoor voice, and second, I don’t think I can waive a section of the California Civil Code (otherwise, I’d be doin’ it all the time).

      What do you think you are, some kind of sovereign or extraterritorial enclave?


  12. I need to put this on a sign in my front lawn:

    “You may not access or use the S̶e̶r̶v̶i̶c̶e̶s̶ Lawn … if you are not at least 18 years old.”

    You hear that, ya young punks?! :)

  13. Having a TOS does seem to damage the “community” feel of HaD a bit, but is it really any different than the various open source license agreements out there? I don’t see many hackers complain about those.

      1. Not entirely fair that comment rasz. You were legally responsible before anyway, the new TOS just ensure that we don’t become responsible for the actions people take based off of your content.

        1. It does much more than that. The TOS is incompatible with all copyleft licenses. Section 3.2 ensures that you cannot use copyleft licenses for things you publish because you cannot fulfill that clause (you cannot grant HaD/supplyframe rights that you do not possess and they explicitly demand them). It is that simple.

          1. I had another read over 3.2, what rights exactly does it ask for there that the copyleft licenses do not allow you to have? I’m not a lawyer so I would be interested to understand that one since its quite a complex issue.

          2. It states: “You agree to irrevocably waive (and cause to be waived) any claims and assertions of moral rights or attribution with respect to your User Content.”

            Those rights I cannot waive for something that I did not create myself, like f.x. a library, but are included in the “user content”.

            Something that is very easy in copyleft licenses becomes impossible because the TOS requires something that cannot be given.

            Secondary to that, some jurisdictions do not allow you to wave moral rights at all.

        2. Why is it not possible to convert the tedious legalese of the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy into plain-English statements like what you just wrote? I can appreciate that lawyers want to use terribly precise language, but hopefully you realize that means virtually none of your audience will ever read them.

          Imagine a Terms of Use/Privacy Policy that was just single-sentence English statements like:

          * We’re not responsible for your choice to write on this site.

          * We’re not responsible for what you write.

          * We’re not responsible for actions you make take because of others’s writing.

          … and so on. Why is that so difficult?

          1. From having spoken to lawyers in the past when I tried to put out the CircuitBee terms and conditions it becomes quickly clear that ‘plain’ English is just too vague to create a valid legal document.

            I forget the details now, but its something along the lines of ‘all your words have to be precise enough to ensure that nothing contradicts itself, if you leave a contradiction you invalidate the whole thing’. So it gets really complicated very quickly. In theory you could write a plain English version, but you would need to write so many edge cases and if/then/else statements into it that you would end up with something impenetrably massive.

          2. I just took a look, and its based off the WordPress.com boilerplate license that I used on CircuitBee before as well. Its not exactly ‘plain english’, but it is easier to read I will give you that. When I launched I had a few people raise issue with some of the language used in it, but I can’t remember which points I changed now.

          3. AAh – ok, Plain English is just too hard for lawyers to understand.
            Makes sense.
            (Rather: “The preceding sentence may is directed toward a specific audience, and those that fail to understand the expression contained therein shall be unencumbered by its’s intended purpose.” )

          4. We are now a society where people are not allowed to use common sense. 60 years ago the constitution was still the majority of federal law, now not one person can easily understand of the laws that you can break(schools especially).

            I agree with your statement but I don’t think the problem is with HaD but with current society. If the average person can’t fully understand the law then it is a problem with society that makes it necessary.

  14. Meh, whatever. If it makes you happy.

    Honestly though, do you expect folks to read that wall of text (that is in a VERY LOW-CONTRAST color scheme) before they read an article or submit a comment? Hell, I’ve been coming here for years and I sure as hell didn’t –and won’t– and I don’t believe I am alone.

  15. It has been noticed that a TOS generally flags to lawyers a potential client’s readiness to be harvested and provide a bountiful crop as they argue in depth and at great length the details of each individual sentence, phrase, and tense of each word whilst the bank happily aids in transferring your wealth into their wealth The bigger the TOS the better! For them, the more words in it means bigger payoff. Somehow I think a Clint Eastwood quote would be good right about here., but something from Samuel Clemens would be more on target and appropriate.

    TOS probably means they’re making money off and need to protect that. Well.. that’s fine. Now just look back at that TOS and see if they cared to protect us too, because they could have if they wanted to.

  16. Interesting….. I know from a legal stand point you can’t enforce a license without transfer of approval. And nothing online can really be treated as such since you didn’t sign anything, so your really just left with basic internet and consumer laws. Anyone can sue anyone for anything whether or not you put a terms section or license. For instance people could say they didn’t read the terms because they don’t know how to read, were forced to read or felt obligated to read an article, or acted out of despration ie deress. You’d have to have every commenter and writter click a check box that says they agree to the terms to post a comment, even then that won’t release HackaDay from liability, the same way websites and companies are liable for copyright infringment of user submitted content. You’d be better off hosting your servers outside the US and create a long paper trail international for someone to sue, otherwise just someone threatening to sue would force HackaDay to pay them out since a litigation is more expensive than just the pay out. I wonder too if you could make everybody a member of a corporation that under its policies agree to arbitration for liability lawsuits…..Hmmmm……

  17. So I read section 3 of this thing and i wanted to say this:
    What is everyone getting so up in arms about?
    (DISCLAIMER: I’m NOT a lawyer, this is just how I interpreted it [can any of the main writers of hackaday verify this for me?])

    In simple terms, i read the section as:

    Part 3.1 Basically says: What ever the heck you post on here is your resposibility. So if it’s emberassing, don’t post it. If you want to keep it, back it up yourself. Followed by hackaday doesn’t sponser you to say that.

    Part 3.2: In a huge summary, it basically says while you haven’t give them the content, it’s technically in the public domain and they can do what they want with it (guessing by the site, i’m assuming they could throw it onto a hack).

    3.3a: Basically, they don’t condone anything abusive towards other people and races or humanity in general.
    3.3b: basically, don’t tell people “sudo rm -rf / –no-preserve-root” will fix your problems (HINT: IT’S NEVER A GOOD IDEA UNLESS IT’S LIKE, IN A VM FOR TESTING) and don’t go about giving people viruses and the usual “cracking” stuff and don’t do anything else illegal.

    3.4: Basically saying they can do the typical things admins would do, but they don’t have to

    3.5: Feedback is feedback, it can be publicated.

    (I may have missed a huge ton of points, but this is a very generalized way of describing this in my mind. This is the reason why they use that special english. It’s not because they’re part of some conspiracy or something, they sorta have to do that to be an actual entity.)

    Also, no offense to anyone, but i’m waiting for people to say stuff like HackADay is secretly run by TheGeekGroup and it’s the big NGO (New Geek Order) that’s going to take over all the hackerspaces.

    Well that’s me for now… I still really like this site quite a lot! Keep up the good work :3

    1. >>>
      Part 3.2: In a huge summary, it basically says while you haven’t give them the content, it’s technically in the public domain and they can do what they want with it (guessing by the site, i’m assuming they could throw it onto a hack).

      That is inaccurate. Everything posted including what I am just now posting is protected by US Copyright law. It is not public domain unless I, the author, so specifically and intentionally state that such is released into the public domain and I do not do so ever.

      Contrary to copyright haters desire, nothing is public domain simply because it was posted on a website. Under US Copyright, the author still has copyright protection regardless of whether said author supplies the copyright symbol or not. And no Terms of Service, End User License Agreement or other website policy change or revoke this fact of law. Even a legal contract cannot revoke the right without a transfer of money from the creator of said content and the ones to whom the right is being transferred such as in a work for hire situation.

        1. >>>
          Depends on whether or not the content creator chose to enforce that.

          And also, I never stated this as fact, i stated that’s how I interpreted it.
          That is true, but interpretation is not necessarily accurate.
          One of the biggest falsehoods perpetrated on the people is:
          “it’s all in how you interpret it.”

          The fact is, it is as it is written. Interpretation of a legal document is based on the legal definition of the words that make up the document. In some cases, such as in a piece of legislation, the legislation will define specific words and provide their meaning for that law. The lack of definitions may or may not indicate that the common definition as supplied in commonly available and accepted dictionaries is being used.

          The biggest abuses of “it’s all in how you interpret it” are applied to the Constitution of the United States and the Bible. The Bible being the most abused document. I have seen interpretations of passages that would require the actual rewriting of the passage in order to get the said interpretation. I have also seen interpretations that contradict what is actually written in the passage.

          Rather than trying to interpret what is written, focus more on comprehending what is written. To comprehend what is written we must not only understand what is actually written, but what is not written.

          In law and contracts, if it does not specifically state something, it is not there and cannot be interpreted as being there. That is how one should approach things like E.U.L.A., T.O.S. and Privacy Statements.

    1. You did sign the documentation in blood saying that you did ?
      I’m pretty sure that using your cats paw to click on “next” really fast, does count as legally agreeing to give away all your rights.

  18. When do the TSA pat-downs, groping, raping, and thieving begin?
    You have the Right to hand over everything to us.
    Once Capitalists and Attorneys join forces, you can rest assure bad things will follow.
    Ain’t Amerika just grand!?
    To All Readers and Contributors: It may be time to bail. Find fresh fertile ground.

  19. I expressly DO NOT ACCEPT the Hackaday website Hackaday Terms of Use
    Version 1.0.
    I expressly DO NOT ACCEPT the Hackaday websiteHackaday Privacy Policy Version 1.0.



    Now what are you going to do?

    Your policies really are the legal definition of abusive. What a shame. Everything good eventually goes down the path of corporate evil…

  20. Well, I gotta say, Section 3.2 sucks. I highly doubt I have a whole lot of terribly useful stuff that might end up used by Hackaday, but I dislike the principle of that clause nevertheless.

    It’d be much nicer if y’all could change it to say that, beyond Hackaday’s right to maintain a comment system and a forum, as well as quote text with proper attribution in accordance with Fair Use, all users have full and exclusive rights over their own content, and if Hackaday should want to reproduce it for any purpose that falls outside of Fair Use, Hackaday will explicitly ask the author for permission.

    On the bright side, at least this isn’t as bad as the Thingiverse brouhaha.

    1. I have contributed content to Hackaday several times. I contributed by inviting interested parties to look at the things I create, with the hope it might inspire them to do their own experimentation/building. That brings value to Hackaday because of the web traffic through the site, and because it gives Hackaday’s readers a reason to visit Hackaday.

      However, inviting somebody to view my web site is not a waiver of my rights to its content, and no reasonable person would ever presume so.

      I realize that we live in a litigious society and that Hackaday needs to put some legal boilerplate in place in case somebody burns a retina building a laser contraption featured on these pages. But I strongly suggest that you reconsider section 3.2.

      As it stands, it s a good way to make sure nobody contributes anymore.

      1. Well, the terms never go so far as to co-opt linked content. It’s limited to content posted to Hackaday, and it’s non-exclusive, so even though HaD owns your content, you still retain ownership as well.

        Still, it’s not a very nice clause to find in the ToS. HaD should only own what it paid for.

        1. > so even though HaD owns your content, you still retain ownership as well.

          This is false. Read section 3.2. It says, “We do not claim ownership of your User Content.” It’s like, right there, man.

          1. The problem is that HaD wants *all* rights _as_if_ it was the owner, but then says, we are not the owner.

            So, they say in legalese: We get the advantages as far as there are any, but you have all responsibilities.

          2. And then in the very next sentence, they write, “However, when you as a User, submit, publish or post User Content on or in the Services, you hereby grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to us an irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free and fully paid, worldwide license to reproduce, distribute, publicly display and perform, prepare derivative works of, incorporate into other works, and otherwise use your User Content, and to grant sublicenses of the foregoing, solely for the purposes of including your User Content in the Services.”

            Maybe it’s not “ownership” in a legal sense, it’s ownership in non-legalese. They’re basically saying, “We’re not the owners if anyone wants to sue. But we are the owners.”

            It’s a pretty ugly way to do business. Either step up and take responsibility, or don’t try to claim any sort of ownership. This is why nobody likes lawyers.

          3. OK @luke…

            Then what happens if somebody ELSE submits my website to Hackaday… like one of my readers? Then what?

            In that case, *I* haven’t submitted it, therefore I’ve granted no rights, yet under these terms, Hackaday will procede as though I had…

            Like I said, 3.2 needs to be reconsidered.

          4. @[Fred] They own the post they make, THEIR words not yours. If someone posts your words as their own, then it is plagiarism and copyright violation, and nothing in the TOS changes that, or can change that.

            What fools these mortals be…

          5. @Ferd

            I’m in complete agreement that section 3.2 needs to be rewritten, but you’re not understanding what it’s saying. What’s on your own website is still your own. If you post a link, it’s still your own.

            When you write a comment, or submit some writing to HaD, they assert that they have a license to use it as if it were their own. So if you were to copy what’s written on your website and paste it in Hackaday, you’re handing that content over.

            Basically, what we’re writing here, HaD pretty much owns it. What you wrote elsewhere is still yours. They can write about it, but they can’t claim they have a license to use it.

  21. Whenever I decide it might clarify why make the comment I make I use my Amateur Radio call sign, many others use their call sign as well. Others make themselves identifiable via the URL they place in the associated field. I suppose we need to include our own disclaimer absolving ourselves as to how other use our comments and will not assume any risk. any suggestions to what language to use? Everything I come up with probably violate the Hackaday play nice policy. Really don’t need disclaimers longer that the actual comment As for the TOS I suppose they where inevitable, even if a nonprofit was formed to take over Hackaday. No hair off my nut sack, and I doubt they are going have any affect on daily visits and comments. The threats by anonymous ideologues to take are entertaining. Not like they have the only ball to take home with them :)

  22. And this is what happens when a website sells out. You can thank HaD’s new corporate overlords for this. But even before this happened Mike Szczys and crew we’re nothing more than parasites looking to profit via ad revenue by displaying other peoples work, and not sharing any of the profits with the actual content creators. The articles written here are consistently half-assed, littered with inaccuracies, typos and grammatical errors.

    1. Please explain, with specifics, how this is selling out? How making explicit what have, almost certainly, been their policies from day one somehow ruins this site?

      Forgive me if I am wrong, but this all sounds like little more than standard internet bloviating, and letting the 24/7 meaningless conflictinator run rampant over what should be sensible discourse.

      You complain that they are making money off of other people’s work, does this mean that newspapers should share revenue with those they report on? That there is no value in bringing things to other people’s attention? That curation is of no use?

      Honestly if you want to change things, then engage in honest discourse and not hyperbole. But, in my opinion, all that is really happening is that you and the others complaining are just venting their spleen and won’t be going anywhere.

      If these policies are really so horrible, then voting with your feet and never coming back will probably speak louder than anything non-constructive said here.

        1. I normally agree with you [Luke] but I don’t believe that is always the case. Right now we have a handful of people I suspect are genuine trolls, but mostly people who are confused, spouting what amounts to urban myths, or are just plain wrong.

          When it comes to people like that, I firmly believe the answer to bad speech is more speech. There is no way we can convince everyone, but I think if we challenge the readers to do a little bit of research, to pause and think, we can calm things down overall.

          Obviously, to thine own self be true (just to keep the shakespeare thing going ;), but I think some engagement is called for in this case.

          1. Confused and upset people are one thing. This matt individual, however, never has anything constructive to say. He’s on almost every article pissing on about how much he hates Hackaday and how stupid the subject of the article is.

  23. I’ve gone through the ToS again, and I just don’t see what the big deal is. Nothing has changed; HaD has just spelled out what we already knew. Don’t do stupid things and don’t submit stolen ideas/content. If you do, someone might sue you, and HaD doesn’t want to go down with you. And why should they? I don’t want HaD to get sued into bankruptcy because some jackass snuck some copyrighted content into a HaD submission, or because some idiot reader tried something dangerous that he read on HaD and got hurt. Although the ToS seem evil, it actually provides HaD the safety net needed in the modern litigious world to keep posting cool content. Can you imagine how bad it would suck if HaD elected to skip the ToS in favor of censoring any submissions they thought might get them sued? We’d have nothing but posts about blinking LEDs. Do what you gotta do, HaD, to keep posting awesome hacks. You have my support.

    1. A ToS in and of itself isn’t a bad thing. With this one, though, there are a few sore points.

      Like Section 3, where they disavow any endorsement of and wash their hands of liability for user content, but nevertheless assert the rights to use that content as if they paid for a full, royalty-free license to use it.

      Now, I’d bet HaD’s editors would at least ask if it’s okay to post something a user wrote — I’ve noticed it here and there. In practice, it likely won’t be bad at all. But the spirit of the contract is a bit on the hostile side at some points, and who’s to say it won’t be abused at some point in the future? Lawyers aren’t like normal people. They’re bottom-feeders.

      1. Yeah. Their terms are reasonable though, even the ‘bad’ bits.

        Then again, the law judges based on reasonableness, people judge on ethics. Never is really surprising when people get angry at things that are reasonable to the law.

  24. If I try out anything I read about on the internet I do my research first so that I fully understand as much as possible about the subject at hand. I also use my brain and I take responsibility for my own actions. If someone posts something about neat things to do with acetone and hydrogen peroxide, thermite or high voltage, a bit (or a lot) more research may be needed!

  25. I will agree to the majority of the provisions for the purpose of posting this single post, with the addition that I have not had the time to fully consider the implications of the unbounded time frames the terms request and cannot grant unbounded constraints (the license of 3.2 is granted as requested, however, as this is a previously expected and granted condition) but do not allow the use of this post to indicate that I am willing to agree to retroactively accept the conditions of this new Terms of Service agreement for any posts prior to its release to me.

    I will have to carefully consider whether I wish to participate in any further interaction while the conditions of 10.2 apply, as I can not determine to what extent the restrictions it places lead to unbalanced means of defense in the case suit it brought against those who have posted content on this site. This may be moot, however, since I deny the requests that I waive the protections granted by Law (mostly in 10.2 again, where I note there is tension between the terms of paragraphs (b) and (g), which appear to be essentially asking for “the law of the state of California, but only some of the law” to apply).

    I further wish to make clear that while I do not know of any intellectual property which I have rights or interests in being used on the site that does not fit the description given, I have not had a reasonable opportunity to review the entirety of the intellectual property that the non-user contributed portions of the site represent and will not accept term 2.5 as a constraint on any future action should I find non-user contributed intellectual property on the site that violates any rights or interests I have in the intellectual property being used. (If you really have checked the entire site for compliance with the claims made in 2.5, please put up an article on how you accomplished it! Particularly the statement about patents!)

    1. Please name a case in the last 20 years where simply showing the image of a vibrator or talking about their existence would be considered obscene or pornographic?

      Pornography doesn’t simply mean nude, and obscene doesn’t simply mean related to sex.

      I don’t mean this next bit for you [DR], but I see this all the time — “New Law Could Ban Carrots” when the law is about regulating fat soluble vitamins. We read things and assume our definition is the same as everyone else’s. In the US Obscenity doesn’t have a single definition (except possibly for the Stewart Test https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_know_it_when_I_see_it), it is based on “average person, applying contemporary community standards” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roth_test).

      Now if the HaD post had included a picture of a person using it in an explicit way, sure you would probably be right, but that is not what it happening in that post.

      This post if so full of rampant speculation and FUD that I, personally, suggest that everyone do a little research prior to posting what they think would and would not be allowed; and that the kind of levity that would otherwise be fine be avoided so as not to fan the flames…

    2. That depends on your interpretation, a vibrator is non of the things describer in a modern sane persons mind and would not fall foul of it surely.

      When they first released electric vibrators they had ads for them in all the papers in the US I hear, and this was way back. it was pretty much acceptable although they did not actually use certain terms in the ads though.

      Also have you ever read the EULA of youtube? If you follow those rules the only thing allowed would be you sitting in an empty white room not talking. Then it would be removed for copyright on white room and not talking after a day.

      1. Incidentally: It says you are not allowed to post offensive stuff, but from the comments it is clear the user agreement is generally considered offensive, so they can’t post it. A logic loop.

          1. That article is about the definition of ‘obscene’ and not ‘offensive’ which is a completely different thing altogether.

            That’s what happens when you don’t do the tiniest research into your own links :)

          2. Legal definition of ‘offensive’ according to a google search: contrary to a particular or prevailing sense of what is decent, proper, or moral

            See, the prevailing sense is the operative factor I was going for, if a large number of users find the agreement improper..

          3. @[Whatnot] Actually it is what happens when you lose track of your copy buffer.

            But offensive like obscene is based on community standards just like obscenity. However in this case it really means whatever HaD wants it to mean… which was the case prior to the new TOS. And if anyone thought they could post things that HaD thought was offensive and somehow have cover then they were fools, simple as that.

    1. That is an utter bullshit argument. The “well, he did it too” defense is disgraceful at best and stupidity at its highest form.

      Squeezing the lemon like the proposed TOS shows that there is no hacker spirit left. And that is regardless whether there are worse squeezers out there. We are not talking about “others”, but we are discussing HaD’s interpretation and how that affects the community.

      1. Well there are quite a few sites that have user agreements I simply cannot agree with and I either left those site if it was new or did not click OK when it was an established site and was in the process of making an account.
        So from that vantage point this one is actually doable.
        As for the more philosophical angle you take, that is another discussion altogether and I see where you are coming from.

        As I read it they are basically saying there is us and there are the users, we don’t take responsibility or ownership for the users and their stuff.
        The only issue being the copyright thing, but seeing they put some stiff requirements on it (they need all kinds of proof and to identify themselves) that too is better than many others who not only actively seek to censor but also take any vague claim as ‘good enough’ (cough youtube cough)

        1. We are surely all free to accept or decline any TOS, which is, of course, entirely up to any person for him/herself.

          However, the point for HaD is that they are now biting the hand that feeds them. That is a bad sign and is, in my opinion, inexcusable.

  26. Well here’s a demarcation line if I’ve ever seen one.

    Long time reader of HAD and I’ve contributed a few modest hacks.
    I’m curious to see how things go from here.

    Ghod bless us all.

    1. Thanks – I’ve been shopping for other sites to check out recently (unrelated to this legal thing). Complaining about something is one thing, but suggesting alternatives is insightful and constructive.

      I’m also considering:


      I’m not leaving, just putting Hackaday lower down on the list. HAD used to be the one site to check, but recently it’s become one voice in a crowd of similar sites.

      I no longer see any product distinction at Hackaday.

      What other sites to people recommend?

  27. I think I have done what I can to dispel the FUD going on here. I encourage everyone complaining to stop, dial down your ire a notch, think, and then do a little research.

    If you actually want things to change, then your actions — engaging in civil, thoughtful, discourse; or voting with your feet — will do far more good than sweeping declarations and hyperbole ever will.

    But if you are still upset, well I feel bad for you son. I got 99 problems, but this TOS ain’t one…

  28. Longtime reader, occasional featuree, former controversial website operator and occasional legal threat recipient here.

    I don’t see what the fuss is about. I know the knee-jerk reaction by hackery types in response to the L-word is “Aaah, they’re going megacorp!”, but these all look like extremely typical terms that you’d find on any other site (and usually much worse). A few people are complaining about:

    3.1 User Content.
    “User Content” means any and all information and content that a User submits to, or uses with, the Services (e.g., content in the User’s profile and postings and comments submitted to the Services). You are solely responsible for your User Content. You assume all risks associated with use of your User Content, including any reliance on its accuracy, completeness or usefulness by other Users, or any disclosure of your User Content that makes you or any third party personally identifiable. You may not state or imply that your User Content is in any way provided, sponsored or endorsed by us. Because you alone are responsible for your User Content (and not us), you may expose yourself to liability if, for example, your User Content violates the Acceptable Use Policy. We are not obligated to backup any User Content and User Content may be deleted at anytime. You are solely responsible for creating backup copies of your User Content if you desire.

    So, User Content is things YOU type into HaD. Submission text, forum posts, comments. It does not cover the contents of your own site, etc., or the hack itself, beyond what is actually contained in any submitted text. In other words, they can’t go scrape content from your blog (under fair use) and then claim that you magically incur liability for matters between HaD and a reader you wouldn’t have otherwise.

    3.2 License.
    We do not claim ownership of your User Content. However, when you as a User, submit, publish or post User Content on or in the Services, you hereby grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to us an irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free and fully paid, worldwide license to reproduce, distribute, publicly display and perform, prepare derivative works of, incorporate into other works, and otherwise use your User Content, and to grant sublicenses of the foregoing, solely for the purposes of including your User Content in the Services. You agree to irrevocably waive (and cause to be waived) any claims and assertions of moral rights or attribution with respect to your User Content.

    This is also not only extremely common, but non-concerning. HaD or anyone else could legally do much of that anyway under the fair use doctrine. It’s pretty obvious that when you type something into a web site *to be pubicly displayed*, you are giving permission to do just that, otherwise they couldn’t display the thing (comment, etc.) you just posted. The “worldwide, irrevocable”, etc. is standard practice for the following reason: Can you imagine if every comment poster had the right to singly revoke permission to display individual posts, or enforce additional terms on displaying them, whenever they liked, and mandate the site to comply within x hours? This opens an entire can of other worms: proving that the person making the demand is the actual commentor, OR someone who has legally taken over ownership of the comment (legal guardian, estate, weird deal by the OP to settle a debt…), and the impossibility of insta-nuking the content from the web site, any caches/proxies, future load-balanced/cloud-provisioned versions of the site, databases, backup tapes, offsites…

    Note also the bolded part (emphasis added by me).

    Much too long to reproduce here, but basically says that they “CAN” change the terms as needed, and the updated terms will take effect after 30 days, and that any lawsuits between you had HaD (SupplyFrame) EXCEPT FOR IP issues (copyright, trademark, patent, etc.), will be by individual arbitration. There is valid debate on whether or not that is a good thing, but really, I can think of very few real-world circumstances where a non-IP civil dispute would arise between you and a web site over looking at or posting to said web site. As for the rest, as others have pointed out, posting a ToS is not a magic get-out-of-lawsuit-free card; enforceability is limited (at best). If they libeled you in a post, they couldn’t get out of the suit by saying, “Ahaha, but you had to load our website to prove it, which bound you to our ToS, and now you can’t sue us, ahahaha!”

    All in all, I see this ToS as much more aimed at blocking vexatious legal claims from ne’er-do-wells (think how many companies would LOVE to get hacks of their products removed, or make such sites too expensive to maintain) and not about screwing contributors over.

    1. +1000 for the commentary. A bit of fresh air after the rants I’ve read so far on this page!

      Something to muse about: All the people who are actually voicing their opinions on here are probably the small fraction of HaD viewers who are of the more “activist” type (I don’t mean that in any negative way), whereas most users have little patience for reading through TOS and policies, and would rather get on with hacking cool stuff! But we don’t get to know their opinions – all we hear is the vocal minority. I could be wrong, but that’s how I see it!

      The same reason for the demise of Visual Basic 6 (or so I’ve heard) – the people asking Microsoft for all the bloated .NET features were again the vocal type who had time to do that sort of thing. The rest of us were much too busy getting on with writing programs in what I’d still consider to be a great language.

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