By now a lot of folks in the dev.to community are very familiar with the recent move that Free Code Camp made to get off of Medium. FCC is the leading technical content publication on Medium. Hundreds of authors have contributed fantastic content, myself included.
But, Free Code Camp violated my rights as an author on Medium. Without my permission, they redirected links away from Medium and to their own FCC News site. You can read more about the move and this violation in Ben's fantastic article.
First, I did get everything undone for my articles and all links now redirect back to my Medium posts outside of the Free Code Camp publication. But, it wasn't easy and I still haven't seen anything where FCC admits what they did is wrong.
So what did I do to get things undone? To be honest I had no idea what to do when this first happened. So I took to Twitter to share my thoughts and feelings on the entire matter.
So today I learned, from @bendhalpern, one of my leading blog posts was moved off of Medium and onto a new site WITHOUT my permission or agreement. @ossia I think this definitely violated the author rights that I held on Medium where I own my content. dev.to/ben/i-m-concer…15:48 PM - 29 May 2019
O this just keeps getting better. So now during my day, I need to jump on a call to reclaim the content that is rightfully mine?!?!?16:48 PM - 29 May 2019
O and if you want to actually get things sorted out you have only option, select "Yes" to transfer control to FreeCodeCamp just to reclaim the rights to your content 🤦♂️ @ossia I want my content removed from this platform and my author rights restored. DMs are open.16:51 PM - 29 May 2019
How much of this impacted the final result in getting things undone? I have no idea but at least it drew attention to the fact that this is not right.
One thing that I want to call out that I saw quite often on Twitter is that this isn't about a Dev vs Free Code Camp rivalry. I respect both communities for what they provide. So my feelings and complaints about this move are not against the community. They are against those in charge of the community. The lack of respect they have shown to those that helped them get to where they are, their contributors.
Since Twitter wasn't getting a response, I went the next route I could go. I filed DMCA takedown notices with Free Code Camps hosting provider. This was actually very easy to do. FCC proxies all traffic through Cloudflare which allows you to submit DMCA takedown notices which they forward onto the site owner and hosting provider.
Shortly after I submitted DMCA takedown notices I was contacted by Free Code Camp. To their credit, they were open to undoing things. All my articles were removed from the Free Code Camp Medium publication and redirects now go to my articles on Medium.
So at this point, my articles are back in a normal state. The damage is unknown because of the lack of visibility into the entire matter. But I now have control over my content again which is one of the most important things to me.
This entire experience highlights a lot of things that Free Code Camp did wrong. They moved content, that by Medium terms of service, belongs to the authors of that content. Those terms of service apply even when it is published to a publication.
To make matters worse, authors were locked out of their content on the Free Code Camp platform. To gain access required a video call to get set up on the platform, which for those of us that are busy is not as simple as it sounds.
The worst part is that I have been contacted by dozens of other FCC authors who are fearful of contacting them to have this undone. Dozens of authors are concerned that contacting FCC to undo this will be met with resistance. This is the opposite attitude that the actual community conveys.
My hope is that this post can at least give those authors a pseudo blueprint to take action. I can't guarantee what worked for me will work for you, but it seems like a sensible place to start.
If there are any questions that I can help answer from my experience, please feel free to add a comment below. 👇 👇 👇 👇