Earlier this month, executives at Eventbrite—the popular Internet event-ticketing platform used by thousands of event organizers, including many information security conferences—made a change in the company's "Merchant Agreement" that many missed until this past week. That change added a section to the agreement entitled "Permission You Grant Us to Film and Record Your Events," asserted broad rights over the content of events that use Eventbrite for ticketing. As word spread this past weekend about the changes, many event organizers reacted with shock to the terms and began scrambling to find alternatives to the Eventbrite platform. Facing a backlash to the new language, Eventbrite pulled the section from the Agreement's text on Sunday afternoon.
The new terms asserted that Eventbrite staff had the right to "enter and remain" at any event organized with the platform, record the entirety of event with video and photography—including setup and break-down of the event—and retain copyright over everything recorded. The language would have required event organizers to assure Eventbrite was afforded copyright over all the content of the event "for any purpose."
"You are responsible for obtaining, at your own cost, all third party permissions, clearances, and licenses necessary to secure Eventbrite the permissions and rights described above," the terms stated.
Organizers of a number of security conferences—especially non-profit events such as the BSides conferences—immediately raised concerns over these terms, as many of these conferences have policies prohibiting photography of attendees and some presenters.
A company spokesperson initially responded to some of the concerns by stating that event organizers could "opt out" of the new language by sending written notification to Eventbrite's legal department. But by Sunday, the company had completely yanked the language from the agreement's text.
An Eventbrite spokesperson sent Ars the following statement Sunday evening:
Earlier this month we made an update to our Terms of Service and Merchant Agreement that would allow us the option to work with individual organizers to secure video and photos at their events for marketing and promotional purposes. Weve heard some concerns from our customers and agree that the language of the terms went broader than necessary given our intention of the clause.
We have not recorded any footage at events since this clause was added, and upon further review, have removed it entirely from both our Terms of Service and Merchant Agreement. We sincerely apologize for any concern this caused.
The promotional content clause is a common request from many event organizers, who often include such language in their agreement terms for attendees specifically for the creation of marketing materials. But Eventbrite appears to have followed some technology services firms' extremely aggressive moves to stake out intellectual property rights to their customers' experiences.
Uber, for instance includes a "media release" clause in its Uber Bike terms of service, which grants Uber the right to use customers' "image and likeness (including caricature), and any reproduction or simulation thereof, in any media now known or hereafter developed, both during and after the term of this agreement, for whatever purposes we or [Uber Technologies Inc.] deem necessary or desirable." In other words, if you ride an Uber Bike, you should expect to be not just photographed for marketing purposes, but turned into a cartoon or video game character in some future Uber Bike themed product.
Listing image by Eventbrite