A Cold Hard Fact
HubPages is Dying
I'm writing this for everyone who writes on the HubPages platform - not just for those who transferred (willingly or not) from Squidoo.
I've been looking at the Quantcast and Alexa data and reading the numerous posts about people losing both traffic and their income writing for HubPages. It doesn't look good.
There are numerous reasons such as Google's latest Penguin, Panda, and Pirate updates but it doesn't matter why.
What matters is that if you leave HubPages, you should be able to delete your account, profile/identity (avatar), content and keep all of your deserved income.
On the current FAQ about account closure, it states: "Do not close your account if you do not want to forfeit your current balance."
"HubPages does not claim ownership of Your Hub Content or Author Content."
However, it also states:
"You may not remove your Author Content from the Service. [But I, like many others, NEVER joined HubPages]. HubPages may preserve and store Hub Content (including, for a commercially reasonable time, Hub Content you have removed from the Service) or Author Content, and may disclose such content if required to do so by law or if HubPages believes in good faith that such preservation or disclosure is reasonably necessary to: (a) comply with legal process (e.g., subpoenas); (b) enforce these Terms; (c) respond to claims that any Hub or Content violates the rights of third parties; or (d) protect the rights, property, or personal safety of HubPages, its users and the public."
Paul Edmondson Broke the Law
Once someone has broken the law, you do not need to divulge more information to them. You contact the authorities (which I did). Within 24 hours of discovering an email from HubPages with the subject line "sousababy: Your Lenses Have Been Imported!" I filed an IC3 report.
But what about those who were already writing on HubPages or who willingly accepted the transfer of their work from Squidoo?
Yes, you have some options.
Halloween is Over, Squidoo's Best Season
HubPages didn't benefit at all from this "acquisition"
My Letter to the Company That Hosts HubPages
Dear Mr. Brian Britton, General Manager, Northern California at Level 3 Communications Inc. (San Francisco Bay Area),
According to WHOIS information, you host HubPages Inc.
Within 24 hours of discovering my stolen content, I filed an IC3 report.
I have not heard from the IC3 (yet) and I have since updated my file with them. I am claiming losses of 10 dollars/day per article that my content is being used by HubPages. As I'm sure you know, the IC3 is a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C).
On November 4th, 2014, I discovered my profile, identity, and 293 articles of mine were still being publicly posted on HubPages (with their ads) making money for someone other than me. This entire transaction took place without my permission and despite my public protests during the Squidoo-HubPages illegal sale of authors' work.
You can access the complete picture of what transpired, including screenshot proof and my videotaped attempt to delete my entire account on Squidoo in Dear Google, HubPages Is Posting My Content and I Need to File 293 DMCA Notices.
On or around September 13th, 2014, my entire profile, avatar photo, and 293 articles of mine were copied onto your servers without permission. The original profile, avatar photo and 293 articles to which I own the exclusive copyrights, can be found at: https://web.archive.org/web/20140627140956/http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/sousababy
The unauthorized and infringing copy can be found at: http://sousababy.hubpages.com/
However, California's Penal Code 496 (Receiving Stolen Property Law) states it will "impose harsh criminal penalties on people who: buy, receive, conceal, sell, or withhold from the owner (author) any property [content] that they know has been stolen."
This letter is official notification under Section 512(c) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
I demand the removal of my identity, profile, and all 293 articles from your servers. You need to notify HubPages Inc. of this notice and indicate that they need to remove the infringing material immediately. You also need to inform HubPages to cease any further posting of my identity (avatar), profile information and content from both their website (and your server) in the future.
A reminder: the law requires you (as a service provider), to remove or disable access to the infringing materials upon receiving this notice. Under US law, service providers are granted immunity from a copyright lawsuit if you act immediately to rectify copyright infringement.
In the event that HubPages does not comply, you will need to remove the infringing material from your servers to remain immune from a copyright infringement action. Otherwise, your immunity is lost.
For Other Writers Who Will Come Forth
"In the event that the Agreement is terminated by you (pursuant to HubPages’ receipt of your written termination notice) the entire amount of an earned balance in your account will be permanently forfeited by you (and you hereby waive any claim relating to the dispute of such payment and disclaim any and all interest in such funds)."
When the resulting terms of a contract shocks the conscience of a court, the court may strike down a contract, labeling it as unconscionable.
Not only have I been shocked to find my identity, profile, and all 293 articles of mine on HubPages, I was horrified to find the same of someone who died on August 20th, 2013.
Naiza Oclares had 321 articles. Now they are on HubPages with ads and making money for someone other than Naiza. This is truly shocking. The screenshot below was taken November 9th, 2014.
How Could Naiza Oclares Consent to This?
And how on earth could she have joined 8 weeks ago?
January 4th, 2015 - Who Set This Up?
I was appalled to discover this on Pinterest one day
Misrepresentation occurred numerous times during the Squidoo-HubPages transaction. Corey Brown reworded, concealed, or misrepresented the facts and consequences that writers would face if they did or did not agree to the transfer of their content to HubPages.
The following passages from Regret Your HubPages-Squidoo Transfer or Content Deletion? Help to Get Your Earnings Back are examples of misrepresentation:
"We want to make it clear that even after tomorrow’s deadline, you will have complete access to your Dashboard..." ~ Corey Brown in his post Reminder: HubPages Opt Out Deadline is Tomorrow
Access to delete our accounts or work was impossible after midnight ET on August 29th, 2014 - even though our work was publicly posted, with Amazon and eBay products available for purchase, and showing ads online until (at least) September 2nd, 2014.
This occurs when someone neglects to disclose (state) an important fact about the deal or contract. The parties involved have a duty to disclose only material facts. But if someone impacted by the terms of the deal (or contract) specifically asks about a fact (material or non-material), then that person has a duty to disclose the whole truth.
I am sure there are numerous examples, the ones most clearly stuck in my mind are the following found in Corey Brown's August 22nd, 2014 post titled Important Update on the HubPages Transition:
"Is there no option for being paid for August, but NOT being transferred to HubPages?"
Corey Brown responds:
"Transferring your account to HubPages has no bearing on the payment rules I mentioned above. There is no opt in requirement to be paid (and opting out is as described - you will be paid)."
Further along, TanoCalvenoa asks for further clarification and advises Corey Brown of my intentions (as sousababy on Squidoo). Note: screenshot proof follows this section.
"Answers to questions about the transfer continue to be unclear. Will anyone be paid for August for lenses that were deleted? If not, then it comes across as "You will consent to the transfer or no pay for you!" I deleted all my lenses but expect to be paid for July, and the portion of August that they were up. Or will I be punished for not wanting to be on HubPages?
One fellow lensmaster, sousababy, intends to leave her account up until close to midnight August 31st with intent of being paid for August.
Let's get a clear answer about this."
Corey Brown retorts:
"I answered your question below. If you delete lenses, they will only get their attributable revenue (Amazon and eBay royalties). I'm not sure what's unclear here, but to answer you specifically: you will be paid for July and you will be paid for whatever attributable revenue you earned in August for the lens(es) you've deleted. We are not basing payment on anything related to opting in (or not) with HubPages."
More Proof of Nondisclosure
And if you think that TanoCalvenoa and I were the only ones who found Corey Brown's responses vague and confusing, others did too.
In the comments section of two Google Plus posts, former Squidoo writer John Tannahill wrote the following (screenshot follows):
"I'm quite happy to see all my Squidoo lenses go offline completely for a time. I'm working on other things at the moment and not publishing..."
"The drawing skills are improving I see. I deleted most of my lenses a couple of weeks ago, then couldn't decide what to do with the remaining five and missed the deadline. Now we'll have to see if the end up on HP or not."
Marisa Wright assured us August 21st, 2014
When the site closes down, your articles will disappear:
And Those Who Were Away Were Told
"I was told I can only do it [keep content] in HP..."
No One Needs to Go to Court
But someone in California may be willing to testify
According to Copyright lawyer Charles Petit, as stated in an article by Moira Allen, of Writing World:
"Under the terms of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, ISPs are required to remove material if they are notified that the material infringes upon someone's copyright. The infringement does not have to be "proven" (e.g., in court); the statement by the author that the material is an infringement is sufficient.
The notice of infringement makes the ISP [in this case, Level 3 Communications Inc.] responsible once notified of the infringement in writing, and is signed under penalty of perjury."
To Every Writer on HubPages
Therefore, I am providing this notice and open letter in good faith and with the reasonable belief that rights I own [and the rights of other writers] are being infringed. Under penalty of perjury I certify that the information contained in the notification and in this open letter article is both true and accurate.
Should any writer currently on HubPages (whether they joined before or after Squidoo was acquired) wish to collect their earnings and promptly have their articles (aka Hubs) and account information permanently deleted - I am imploring you, Mr. Brian Britton, General Manager, Level 3 Communications Inc., to honour their request in a timely fashion.
To File Your Own DMCA Notice
Another writer on InfoBarrel, classicalgeek, has put together two form letters that make it easy to file a Notice of Infringement Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. I recommend using the second letter in her article Dealing with Copied Content: Easier, Faster DMCA Notices.
Squidoo's Terms of Service and HubPages had/have identical statements:
"HubPages does not claim ownership of Your Hub Content or Author Content. Such content will be owned by You or a third party from whom You got permission to post the content."
Squidoo has removed their Terms of Service from their existing domain; however, I was able to locate the following via the Internet Archive:
We will NEVER, however, disclose personally identifying information, except as specifically authorized by you or in the good faith belief that such action is reasonably necessary to comply with the law, legal process..."
If we, as writers online, allow Seth Godin et al. and Paul Edmondson et al. to break their own Terms of Service/Use and violate US and state laws, we've lost everything. It means that anyone, at anytime, can buy our identity, profile, and content (perhaps without us ever knowing about it) and profit from it.
We might never see a cent from our hard earned work.
I wonder what Naiza Oclares or her family would have to say about this. And I wonder how many more people are out there who have no idea (for whatever reason) that their work/identity was illegally sold (without their permission) to Paul Edmondson et al. and he is profiting from it.
You do not need to be bound by the terms of any agreement once one party has broken the law. Anyone on HubPages right now has the right to claim all of their earnings and have their entire account, identity (avatar), and content deleted permanently - at any time.
HubPage's ISP [currently Level 3 Communications Inc.] must comply with any DMCA takedown request by the content owner (original author) in a timely fashion.
I will be forwarding a copy of this open letter article to the IC3, the Google Removals Team, to everyone I know on Google Plus that has any involvement with HubPages and sharing it among friends and family.
Thank you for reading and sharing my message.
Addendum November 12th, 2014
I had a great deal of traffic to this article, so I searched out the source. Interestingly enough, someone who probably moderates on HubPages wrote a response [see screenshot next].
Her last two sentences state:
"She's one of the small group of writers who totally misunderstood their status at Squidoo and will never accept that Squidoo had the legal right to sell their business to HubPages, which included their articles. And to collect their Squidoo earnings, all they had to do was leave their Hubs [articles] published for a short period of time."
Now, if that doesn't tell you what HubPages was really after (confidential user information, identity, avatar, profile information) than I don't know what does.
And no, to reiterate again:
Squidoo's TOS [which is suspiciously removed from the site] stated:
"The content: who owns it?As a Lensmaster, you will be able to incorporate various forms of Content into your Lenses. Squidoo does not claim ownership of the Content you place on your Lens. The Content will be owned by you or a third party from whom you got permission to post the content."
We will NEVER, however, disclose personally identifying information, except as specifically authorized by you..."
Small group of writers? Hmm, don't think so. And it looks like these suspicions were also raised in 2011 [almost three years ago] by Edward of Olympia, WA on the Consumer Affairs site which states:
"My attorney is watching HubPages, and if someone there starts to publish my old items, we will sue them for abuse of my first amendment rights. Some of the other people they did this same thing to, live in other countries, and the few hundred dollars a month they were making was saving their lives and putting their children through school. HubPages yanked that away from them, with not one single word of explanation."
Addendum November 15th, 2014
It's been drawn to my attention that people who deleted all of their lenses (but left their account up) had their profiles automatically moved to HubPages without their consent.
Numerous people who were upset about this whole transaction also confided in me that they would only leave their "crappiest" lenses [articles] on Squidoo with the hopes of being paid everything they were entitled to for the entire month of August 2014.
Remember Corey Brown assured us that transfers would begin on September 2nd - so why wouldn't they be entitled to the all the monies owing for August (ad pool revenue, eBay, Amazon, and "late" payments)?
Note: See references section at the end of my article for links to these quotes. And I also provide screenshot proof (following these quoted passages).
In the comments section of Reminder: HubPages Opt Out Deadline is Tomorrow, Corey Brown stated:
"Once your account is moved, all of your Featured lenses will get a 301 redirect. You'll have to check with HubPages on how to delete your account. We plan to shut down the Squidoo servers after all accounts are successfully transferred and we've wrapped up everything on this end. That's expected to happen at the end of September/beginning of October."
And, Corey Brown also states:
"We won't turn the lights off until after all of the accounts that are going to be transferred are successfully transferred and we've done all the other necessary things. The expected date for that would be late September or early October.
Your account will be transferred all at once, but the accounts themselves will be transferred on a rolling basis. You'll get an email once your account is moved.
Amazon and eBay modules are being converted over. You should check your profile on HubPages for Amazon and other settings.
If your account is opted in (or hasn't been deleted and has at least 1 featured lens), then all of your lenses attached to that account will be transferred. Featured lenses will be published on HubPages with a 301 redirect from the original Squidoo URL. WIP lenses will be in your account, but unpublished. You can update/publish those at any time..."
TanoCalvenoa left me the message on my Google Plus post:
"Well, they certainly didn't give me my earnings. Corey Brown promised me when I specifically asked, that we would get everything we're entitled to, and that there was no requirement to go along with the transfer to HubPages to get paid.
Squidoo also said, multiple times, that only lensmasters with featured lenses would have their accounts transferred to HubPages.
So guess what - after deleting all my lenses in the second half of August they only paid me half (approximately) of what they owed me, and then they transferred my account with no lenses/articles to HubPages! They were so deceptive and dishonest, it's unbelievable.
I had to log into HubPages, essentially creating an account for a few seconds until I could delete my account from there. Otherwise my name and image would've been on there without my consent and against what they had promised!"
So I have to wonder, is it user information that Seth Godin et al. sold to Paul Edmondson et al. and if so, what is the current status of that information? Is it being stored, sold, or otherwise used without the original owner ever knowing about it?
After perusing the HubPages forum, I found it interesting that moderators (employees of HubPages) are encouraging writers to keep their work published "for at least a year." Is this in order to maximize advertising revenue?
Also, I find it curious that a moderator would state "if they're published on HubPages, they're at high risk of being stolen..." is that because content is being sold?
Barbara Kay is "Intheknow" (see comments)
"After paying money for the Squidoo lenses"
My Consumer Affairs Complaint Status
Note: You must give at least a 1 star rating = angry
Addendum May 3rd, 2015
Status: Waiting - COMPANY | Views: 11,329
Oh Look, Sue Adams via HubPages
Best Practices? Subject line is: "Stop it already"
Check Back for Updates
I am still waiting for a response from a Consumer Affairs lawyer, the IC3 and the ISP for HubPages - Mr. Brian Britton or someone from Level 3 Communications Inc.
My related articles: HubPages and Squidoo: 8 Lies You've Been Told, Theories Why HubPages Unfeatured Former Squidoo Articles, Why on Earth Is Any Squid Filing a DMCA With Google? and Dear Larry Page and Paul Edmondson provide succinct lists, more proof of where your trust (and the law) has been broken, and squash the rumours you've been led to believe by shills and trolls throughout this ordeal.
If you want a good laugh, my satirical observations of this Squidoo-HubPages fiasco will put a smile back on your face. And find out the hilarious excuses that Pinterest came up with when they responded to my complaint.
Protect yourself from identity theft. Do not give HubPages your SSN (Social Security Number) or tax information. And find out the truth behind the Editor's Choice program. Clearly, HubPages is breaking the law.
Finally, in a last-ditch attempt to have my identity, profile, and articles removed from HubPages, I wrote Paul Edmondson: Ban Sousababy From HubPages. I even reported my own profile on HubPages.
And on April 22nd, 2015, I wrote an open letter to the FTC titled Dear Federal Trade Commission. If justice is served, I am requesting that 50% of any monies recovered from the Squidoo-HubPages deal go directly towards providing safe drinking water for California.
Thank you for sharing this important information with other online writers.