Over the summer, the podcast hosting platform (formerly, the social audio company) found itself embroiled in some controversy due to its terms of service, which some in the podcast community interpreted as giving the company overly broad powers over what it can do with podcast episodes hosted on the platform. The chunk in question was the section labeled “License Grant,” which Andrew Orr, writing for Mac Observer, argued as meaning: “Anchor can do whatever it wants with your podcasts, and can also transfer those rights to ‘other companies, organizations, or individuals’ it chooses to work with.” Anchor denied the intent, and issued some amendment to the terms of service at the time to reflect that. But, as a few continued to argue at the time, those immediate changes might not have been enough.
Today, the company is hoping to further rectify all that by rolling out a whole new terms of service. CEO Mike Mignano also published a blog post outlining the new terms. You can find that post here.
Meanwhile, I sent over a few queries to get some more context on how the company got to this point, and here’s what I got back:
What, exactly, are the main changes attached to these new terms of service?
Most of what we did here was make the terms easier to read. We realized a lot of the confusion stemmed from legal language that could have been interpreted in a variety of ways, so we wanted to make sure anyone can read these and understand exactly what they can do with their content (and most importantly, be sure they understand that podcasters retain ownership over everything they create on Anchor).
The biggest changes narrow down the specifics of the license grant, both for Anchor and for fellow users on the platform. We’ve removed some unnecessary language, such as the right for Anchor and others to create “derivative works” of user content. We also specified exactly how users can interact with each other’s content—for example, they can listen to and share anyone’s episodes, but they can only use other people’s content in their own podcast if the it was created collaboratively (such as with our Voice Messages and Record with Friends features).
What led to the original terms of service that troubled some in the podcast community?
We wrote the original terms of service when Anchor was a social audio platform geared for interactivity and collaboration with audio. Once we launched Anchor as an end-to-end podcasting platform, the wide range of provisions that our terms of service covered was broader than what the platform needed, in order to let users create, distribute, and monetize audio. As our product evolved, it was time for our terms to evolve as well.