Imagine this. A website invites you to sign in to share pictures of your child with family. The terms state, "by signing into this site, you agree to give up rights to your child's identity. You may leave the website, but I will have this identity forever. You and they may use their identity as well, but I'm able to manipulate the information tied to their identity, sell this information to third parties, and pretty much do whatever we see fit to do", and you, so excited by the promotions and everyone else in the family joining, sign up and click accept without thoroughly reading the terms.
Now this company starts using your child's information to sign up for something you are morally opposed to... but... you technically agreed, and the terms are airtight. They've covered all their bases, and all the families who signed up in a frenzy to join this super cool site are throwing in their towels out of frustration. What can you do? Just give up?
Well, this has happened to interior designers with Houzz. We signed up for a page that was free to sign up for. In exchange for uploading our photographs, we were made accessible to clients. Soon, Houzz introduced paid accounts, then they changed their algorithms so that designers could only be found if they paid. They changed their terms to read that we could NEVER have our photos back, for any reason. The terms also stated that it was up to us to keep up on the terms... there would be no notification of change. They changed the terms several times until it read as follows:
So, we have given up rights to our intellectual property and received no warning of this. Maybe it was there all along when we signed up. I can't say that I honestly remember, and it's fully possible that in the excitement of launching my business with a newborn child, I did not fully read through these terms. Let's be honest, do you read through Apple's iPhone terms each time they are updated?
Now, Houzz has begun using our photos to sell product- not our product, not product we approve of, just product that looks similar. The quality is not comparable, and designers receive no compensation for this.... but we agreed by existing on their site.
We aren't okay with this, and yes, they have covered their bases. But, with the recent acquisition of the software, many of us use with highly sensitive data, we are saying that this is the last straw. Designers have written a petition and while homeowners are not designers, they may sign the petition in support of these small businesses. Homeowners are also able to stop using this unethical company. Is this the kind of company you want to share your information with... entering your email and credit card # on their site?
I know it is easy to find product there, but I guarantee there are other retail alternatives. Consider Wayfair, HomeSquare, Etsy, and Overstock as a better choice for inexpensive home goods. I like PlaidFox for something a bit higher end. Even Amazon, and this is a company that is HUGE but has values! Talk to a designer- I will happily recommend a home shopping site to suit your style and needs opposed to shopping on Houzz. Support small businesses by boycotting companies that abuse them.
Now, go do your home shopping, work with your designer to have them do the shopping, but whatever you do, have a blast and feel good about it!