Fiverr Forum

Commercial use on fiction stories - is this allowed?

Hi,
I requested a 30,000 words story. The advertisement stated “Commercial use” was included. When I inquired if I can re-sell it, I was told no.

What does “commercial use” mean. Can I resell it or make any modifications to it to resell? Is the story mine to do with as I wish, or does the author still retain copywrite?

Thank you for taking time to answer.

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This is a bit tricky. Really, you should have asked your seller what rights will transfer to you after delivery of your order, prior to placing it.

It could be that you have a commercial right to sell this story but not as your own. (The author would need to be credited as the author.) It could also be the case that you are allowed to publish this story on your website but not distribute it via platforms like Amazon.

Speaking as someone who has had content removed from Amazon due to someone infringing my copyright, you really need to get clarification from your seller. However, it is very unusual for a Fiverr seller not to explicitly state what is meant by commercial use from the get go. In this case, I’d recommend that you try to discover if the work you have been delivered is in any way plagiarized.

If your work is not plagiarized and your sellers gig explicitly states that they include commercial rights, I believe that there is a clause in Fiverr’s own TOS which states that delivered work belongs solely to you after delivery. (You will have to check that though). In this case, you should be covered to do what you want with your delivery.

As I say, though, it is unusual for someone offering a service like this to not make it explicitly clear what commercial use means.

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The work is still in progress. Since I have not requested too many stories, I did not know what to ask for. I assumed commercial meant that the story is mine to do with as I wish.

I was looking for a 30,000 word story so that I could expand it to regular size story since I’m having a hard time plotting, therefore making it sound more like my style.

Does the story still belong to the author even if they grant copywrite? Can they sell it to someone else after I paid for it?

If the work is still in progress, you need to ask your seller what rights you have and what you can do with the finished work.

Copyright isn’t the same as having a commercial license. A commercial license basically gives you rights (usually) to resale and distribution, but not necessarily, the right to say you are the author.

I am an author. I could sell some of my own short stories on Fiverr with a commercial license (so that people who buy them can sell them). However, I could retain full copyright, meaning that I or another party authorized by me could sell the same stories and/or be acknowledged as the author.

Personally, if I offered this kind of service, I would make it abundantly clear from the outset what rights are included with my work. However, every case is different. This is why I would strongly recommend getting direct clarification from your seller.

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I think you can. I’m not a lawyer and could be wrong but you own what you buy on fiverr unless the gig specifically lists in the description you cannot.
If you own it you can sell it.

It’s obvious anyone purchasing this would be doing it to resell.

I think the seller did not read the TOS that anything you buy on fiverr you own. And as cyaxrex said commercial rights also means you can sell it.

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Thank you for clarifying. I have started asking the seller for clarification.

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So the product was finished and the following was added as page 1. According to the listing the seller said it’s mine, I can make changes to it and do whatever I wanted to it in the listing. But then this was added.

COPYRIGHT

In no way is it lеgаl to rерrоduсе, duрliсаtе, оr trаnѕmit any раrt оf this dосumеnt in еithеr electronic mеаnѕ оr in printed fоrmаt. Rесоrding оf this рubliсаtiоn is strictly рrоhibitеd and аnу ѕtоrаgе оf thiѕ document is nоt allowed unlеѕѕ with writtеn реrmiѕѕiоn frоm thе publisher. All rightѕ rеѕеrvеd.

Thе infоrmаtiоn рrоvidеd hеrеin iѕ stated tо bе truthful аnd соnѕiѕtеnt, in thаt аnу liability, in tеrmѕ оf inаttеntiоn or оthеrwiѕе, bу any uѕаgе оr аbuѕе of any роliсiеѕ, processes, оr dirесtiоnѕ contained within iѕ the ѕоlitаrу аnd uttеr rеѕроnѕibilitу оf thе recipient reader. Under nо сirсumѕtаnсеѕ will аnу legal responsibility оr blаmе bе held аgаinѕt thе publisher fоr аnу rераrаtiоn, dаmаgеѕ, оr monetary loss duе to the information hеrеin, еithеr dirесtlу оr indirесtlу.

Rеѕресtivе аuthоrѕ оwn all соруrightѕ nоt held bу thе publisher. The information herein iѕ offered fоr infоrmаtiоnаl рurроѕеѕ ѕоlеlу, and iѕ univеrѕаl аѕ ѕо. Thе presentation оf thе infоrmаtiоn iѕ without соntrасt оr any type of guаrаntее аѕѕurаnсе.

Thе trademarks that are used are without any соnѕеnt, аnd thе рubliсаtiоn of the trаdеmаrk iѕ without реrmiѕѕiоn оr backing bу thе trаdеmаrk оwnеr. All trаdеmаrkѕ аnd brаndѕ within this bооk аrе fоr сlаrifуing purposes оnlу аnd аrе thе owned bу thе owners thеmѕеlvеѕ, not аffiliаtеd with thiѕ document.

From the ToS:
https://www.fiverr.com/terms_of_service

Ownership and limitations: Unless clearly stated otherwise on the Seller’s Gig page/description, when the work is delivered, and subject to payment, the Buyer is granted all intellectual property rights, including but not limited to, copyrights for the work delivered from the Seller, and the Seller waives any and all moral rights therein.

Added:
Commercial Use License

By purchasing a “Commercial Use License” with your order, the Seller grants you a perpetual, exclusive, non-transferable, worldwide license to use the purchased delivery for Permitted Commercial Purposes. All intellectual property rights of the purchased delivery are hereby assigned to you. “Permitted Commercial Purposes” means any business related use, such as (by way of example) advertising, promotion, creating web pages, integration into product, software or other business related tools etc., and strictly excludes any illegal, immoral or defamatory purpose. This License is subject to Fiverr’s Terms of Service. There is no warranty, express or implied, with the purchase of this delivery, including with respect to fitness for a particular purpose. Neither the Seller nor Fiverr will be liable for any claims, or incidental, consequential or other damages arising out of this license, the delivery or your use of the delivery.

4 Likes

Also I wonder if the seller could get in trouble for copyright infringement for copying all that text from an ebook sample site.

Also like said above the seller shouldn’t be able to change the conditions after the purchase has been made from what was originally stated in the gig description at the time of purchase. I’d contact CS about this order to ensure you get the rights as described in the gig description at the time of purchase.

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This is absurd. You should send this to customer support and ask them if this is allowed as it contradicts what is said in the gig description.

Of course anyone is going to store it in some way.

This is grounds for a full refund. It is different from what was described in the gig, and not humanly possible not to store it.

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Probably because the seller most likely didn’t write that whole copyright thing and just probably copied it from another site (it’s exactly the same as on another site, which could be copyright infrigement) so it’s not really relevant either. As well as most likely not allowed since you can’t change the terms after the order has been placed.

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I would ask the seller for a refund and also notify customer support. This seller does not understand what it means to sell a story. You can’t get paid for it and still claim full ownership of it.

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I believe this is all a misunderstanding. The writer doesn’t know how to explain himself probably. Let’s make one thing clear: if the gig description doesn’t specifically say that he is keeping the copyright of the book, that book is 100% yours by the rules of Fiverr TOS. End of story here, nothing else to discuss about it.

Now, regarding that copyright page, that’s mandatory for any book (you should have a copyright page), it’s just copied from somewhere and it doesn’t make sense in your case. Delete that copyright page and write your own. It has no value until you publish it. You can say there that it’s your book and yours only.

I repeat, I really believe that this seller has no idea what copyright is and how it works, and you should definitively get better writers in the future. :ok_hand:

PS: the author, in the case of that copyright page inside the book, will be you!

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That should be correct I think (at least in US copyright law I think - if it was written “within the scope of employment” - though technically the seller wasn’t employed by the buyer - but the Fiverr TOS probably means everything belongs to the buyer unless stated otherwise in the gig at the time of purchase. I’m not sure if it would be the same everywhere). As long as there wasn’t anything in the gig description saying otherwise (like that they had to credit the seller as the author). Ideally the gig description should make it clear that the buyer can claim authorship if relevant.

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Yes, it’s pretty clear.

Buyers are granted all rights for the delivered work, unless otherwise specified by the Seller on their Gig page.

The buyer saying that he retains the rights after delivering means nothing if the description of the gig didn’t said that when bought.

The Fiverr gig description is like a contract. And Fiverr TOS is a clarification for that contract, when things are missing to be mentioned.

3 Likes

Hi,

I am an author, ghostwriter, and an editor for many other authors.

I also write and sell my stories and articles. This is a very interesting question you have posed! It’s one we should all think about when selling creative writing.

If I had sold you a story, it would be very likely that you were taking my services as a ghost writer. Therefore, I’d expect that under a commercial agreement, you were going to publish the story under your own name. It would honestly never cross my mind that you would sell it on again. (Although, you could sell it under your own name as a piece you had written–that’s very standard when buying ghostwriting).

To sell on a story to a third person or company would not be what I’d expect when selling my story to you. However, I still rather suspect that on this occasion, you’re legally entitled to do whatever you like with it because of the fact they didn’t specify the terms of their stated commercial use.

‘Commercial use’ within freelance writing usually would mean that you can use it within your business–such as on your website or blog. It doesn’t usually mean you can resell. However, they failed to specify, so you’d be right to say, you can do with it as you please–in my view. I sell a great many pieces to bloggers and to online magazines, who publish the pieces online as if they have written them themselves.

I think the advice others are giving you is very sound indeed; I’d do as others say, and for the avoidance of a dispute with the author, I would request a refund and let this author keep their story.

Even though it seems to me that you’re legally entitled to resell it if you wish to, I would recommend you avoid any ownership disputes as these can ruin what you’re trying to achieve, in the longer term.

Give the mean and argumentative author their story back and take your money back–and place it with someone else who will be happy to sell you a story to re-use or re-sell as you like. There are many of us about on Fiverr!

I don’t think any service provider who chooses to make life difficult for a client is worth staying with. And bear in mind, you may well want to buy more stories so it would benefit you to find an author you feel you can work with, avoiding these kinds of disputes and disagreements.

And in my view, a good writer can always turn out more and more great work, so for that writer to be upset about a misunderstanding pertaining to one piece, and to let that drag down an otherwise good client relationship, seems short-sighted on the author’s part. And a shame.

Just as a heads-up, for an author to write a 30,000-word piece could take them a long time. It’s not a small story but a novella. I’d expect to pay at least £1,000 for a piece of this length, if it’s any good, and original–as it should take more than a week to write. I only mention this because perhaps that’s where their grievance comes from; maybe they have under-charged for the time input and now fear you’re going to earn more from the piece than they earned themselves. You’d be perfectly entitled to do that, but they would probably feel quite miffed if so. :slight_smile:

Best,

Annie

Mod Note: Link removed.

Maybe like @manucornel said above it was just intended as a copyright page for the book and that the buyer can rewrite that (especially since it looks like it’s copied and the buyer may get in trouble copyright-wise if that exact copyright page was published). Maybe the buyer just needs clarification from the seller as to whether that’s the case and that whether the full rights belong to him (the buyer) and whether he can claim authorship. If not he could maybe contact CS about the order (or cancel if required, giving the seller the rights).

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Thank you for clarifying. I wish I would have known this from the beginning so I would have included this in my ad. This is an expensive lesson to learn. Oh well, I will know for next time.

Thank you everyone for taking the time to respond.

The author agreed in writing that the story is mine to with as I wish including reselling it. Next time I will specify all this in writing in the beginning. Problem was resolved for this question.

It appears a lot of the details have to be very specific in the ad I place. As it is some of the author’s still did not deliver what I ordered, gave me completely different story topics than what I requested and I will have to dispute that. But those two stories should not be a problem when I dispute, since I was very specific in what I wanted and they gave me a story in the wrong genre. Apparently some authors promise anything but don’t deliver. I will have to be more careful of whom I choose, especially newer authors.

Live and learn.

Thank you everyone for responding. Have a great week.

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You could also ask for the story in sections (eg. order a smaller number of words per order of the story)/milestones rather than the whole 30,000 words story in one order. So you’d know sooner that (or if) they were writing it in the genre specified etc.