Last week, I got a strange tweet from @Honda:
@rebeccawatson We'd like 2 ask u a quick question! Can u follow us so we can DM you? Thanks! :)
— Honda (@Honda) April 25, 2014
I knew there was a chance they’d been hacked or something, but I’m a curious person. I followed them, and shortly got this DM:
We’d like 2 use 1 of ur tweets 4 a TV commercial. R u OK with us using this tweet? https://t.co/9JtgAdwhEj
The Tweet in question:
I had to go to the doctor today because my body broke down. My car, deeply sympathetic, decided to do the same.
— Rebecca Watson @SF Sketchfest (@rebeccawatson) July 11, 2013
I’m not one for advertising for large companies pro bono, but my Tweet doesn’t mention Honda, so its use wouldn’t necessarily look like an endorsement. Plus, I thought it would be funny to have a Tweet in a Honda commercial. So, I responded:
Would it include my @ username?
Hi Rebecca, it would probably do so yes.
If you are okay with this, can you please fill out this digital signature form for us? Thanks! #HondaLove
Here’s the form they linked to:
The first two paragraphs read:
For good and valuable consideration, receipt of which is hereby acknowledged, I, the undersigned individual, grant Rubin Postaer and Associates (“Agency”), on behalf of its client American Honda Motor Co., Inc., (“Client”) and any authorized party acting on their behalf full permission irrevocably and in perpetuity without any claim or demand whatsoever to use my name, likeness, social media usernames, and/or handles, and to use, edit and adapt statements attributed to me, (collectively, “Likeness”) or any one or more of them, either in whole or in part, in any and all media now known or hereinafter invented for advertising/promotional purposes in connection with the advertising/promotion of Client, its partners and their products/services (“Advertising”).
I further agree to grant Agency and Client and any authorized party acting on their behalf a perpetual, worldwide, irrevocable, sub-licensable, right and license to reference and otherwise use, copy, reproduce, edit, broadcast, and publicly display my social media profile photos (“Photo”) in whole or in part and any variation thereof, in any and all media now known or hereinafter invented for advertising/promotional/marketing purposes in connection with.
In other words, signing that would allow Honda (and their ad agency) to advertise their cars using my real name, username, headshot, and any words or photos I’ve ever posted on Twitter, Facebook, blogs, magazine articles, e-mails to my mom, laser etchings on the moon, and any other place from now until the end of time. Also, they’re allowed to change what I wrote to something they like better. So, for instance, if I once posted a Tweet reading, “I love bananas,” they could change that to “I love Honda cars” and put it in a television ad next to my name and a photo of me giving a thumbs up.
According to the third paragraph of the agreement, I would not be able to sue them for doing that.*
And in exchange for this, I would get a grand sum of no dollars.
Wow, that contract is crazy! Sorry, the first paragraph alone would make anyone absolutely insane to sign that.
I’m happy to grant you permission to use that one specific tweet with attribution to my username, but that’s it.
Strangely, I haven’t heard back. And sadly, I bet that’s because plenty of other people signed the contract without a second thought.
*I am not a lawyer. Maybe this contract is so stupid that I could sue them for that, but I have no money so the point is moot, anyway.