Community Update

Digital Empowerment Toolkit Now Available!

At World Pulse, we recognize the need for ongoing learning—for you and for your community! Our toolkits aim to provide the resources you need to advance your social change work.

We are excited to introduce our Digital Empowerment Trainers’ Toolkit, a dynamic resource to help you bring the benefits of connecting online to women in your community. Check it out today! »

Does WorldPulse Want to Steal My Work? Your Thoughts….!

I was so excited to learn about WorldPulse through its Voices of Our Future competition, and even more excited once I joined and experienced the supportive community!

I posted my 1st Voices of Our Future challenge ( incorporating an interview I did with an Iraqi refugee in Syria – a child whose father’s finger was cut off following the US-led invasion of Iraq. The response from WorldPulse participants overwhelmed me.

Then I read WorldPulse’s Terms of Service for those participating in Voices of Our Future (, which included a very disturbing clause that says by posting on WorldPulse, I consent to WorldPulse’s taking this sensitive interview and altering it in any way it chooses and posting it elsewhere without compensation to me, without my permission – or even without notification to me – forever!

So, I had to ask myself: Would WorldPulse edit this interview, take some of the sensitive quotes out of context and post on – for example – a pro-war blog?

Probably not.

But, this little girl trusted me with her interview – not some anonymous web site – or anyone who might buy this web site years or decades from now. Don’t I have a duty and responsibility to this little girl to protect her story from potential bastardization? What right do I have to post her story somewhere where I relinquish how her story might be told?

I immediately contacted the CEO of WorldPulse (from whom I have yet to receive a response) and the head of the Voices of Our Future challenge. I have had a courteous interchange with Rachael, but the upshot after 3 weeks of exchange is that WorldPulse’s Terms of Service will not be changed any time soon, even though I’m told my email sparked attention.

I’m conflicted. On one hand, I want to get out the stories of these forgotten refugee women and children ( to a wider audience, and I selfishly want to become one of the finalists of the Voices competition so I can become more adept at getting these important stories out.

On the other hand, these women and children trusted me with their most vulnerable stories. What right do I have exposing them to even a sliver of possibility of misrepresentation?

What if WorldPulse is sold next year, or next decade, or several decades from now? By posting on this site, I give up my rights to control how my writing is used – forever! Here’s the clause from World Pulse's Voices of Our Future Section 7:

Content Ownership. …However, with respect to content any participant makes available for inclusion on publicly accessible areas of the Site, including without limitation any and all Entries [to VOF], each participant hereby grants …the worldwide, perpetual, royalty-free, irrevocable and fully sub-licensable right to distribute, reproduce, publish, publicly display, publicly perform, modify, adapt, translate, and otherwise use such content (in whole or in part), and to incorporate such content (in whole or in part) into other materials, in any format or medium now known or later developed, in Sponsor's sole discretion, without notice, payment, attribution or other obligation to such participant of any kind.

I’m torn. I do not believe WorldPulse would steal my work, but, if that‘s the case, why would they post on their TOS that they can? If they believe in empowerment -- as I believe they do – why require their members (us!) to give up our rights to our work in order to post on their site?

So, my question to you, my new friends in my community who share the divine femininity: What should I do?

Kelly Hayes-Raitt


pinkypradhan's picture

Hey kelly, Thanks for

Hey kelly,

Thanks for bringing this to all of our attention. What you have raised is a valid point, but I guess at this point, all we can do is believe on the integrity of Pulsewire and also at the same time be aware about what to write and what not to.I completely understand your predicament here. It is an issue of trust, the trust placed by that young girl miles across from you.

In the eventuality where they can't change the rule, all I can suggest is may be you can request them if you can pull out that particular story and submit another for the competition.

let us know how this issue is resolved for I am sure most of us who are sharing the voices from the field, will be afflicted with the thought, what if this is misused or put out of context.



Pinky, thank you for your comment. I want to point out that there is a difference between owning content and controlling it. World Pulse very clearly states that we posters own our content -- meaning we have the right to resell our work without getting approval from World Pulse. Maintaining ownership of my posts is very important to me, but so is controlling it. Please read my response to Jensine's posting below for more details.

Thanks for taking the time to post here!

Kelly Hayes-Raitt

Jency's picture


Thanks Kelly, for bringing it to our notice. I really don't know how I missed it. I think some publications mention the editing and altering part. I can understand the clause about the 'no compensation', since this is part of the selection process. But to reproduce without informing the author is unacceptable. As you fear, if it is misquoted or misrepresented, you have no way of knowing and that would be an injustice to the vulnerable interviewees.

I can totally understand your apprehensions. Though we believe that WorldPulse would not misquote or misinterpret, any new entrant like us is bound to be apprehensive, unless someone who has been associated with Worlpulse allays our fears.

If I were in your position I would give the extremely sensitive stories to some other publication and the other ones to WorldPulse.

Anyway I'd like to see the responses from friends as well as from the Worlpulse team.

And I'd go by what Pinky says about a request for pulling out the story, or at least take out the picture. I saw your first assignment in question only now. I think it is better not to use identifiable pictures in such sensitive stories, irrespective of where you publish. Think about it. I think it is one of the UNICEF guidelines.



Jency, thanks for your thoughts. I do have permission from the little girl to use her photo and story, but I feel an obligation to make sure both are used in a manner truly representing her sentiments. Please see my response to Jensine's response below for a time when a well-meaning web site misused -- and possibly endangered -- the subjects of one of my interviews!

Kelly Hayes-Raitt

Patricia Otuka-Karner's picture

thank you

for sharing this information and your experience!

I am generally trying to be very careful with what and where I post information on internet... that also includes plattforms like Worldpulse. I never share unfinished work (unless they are my very private and personal thoughts which I want to discuss with others e.g.) OR they are finished and PUBLISHED work. those, I e.g. attach in PDF (indicating very clearly where it had been published etc.) - IF a platform such as Pulsewire would then use this very document I assume the issues of rights etc. will have to be discussed between them and the original source. as for me, my "trustworthyness" and "agreements" with the subjects of my article/interview will not have been breeched since they knew I intended to publish it (and always change the names anyway)...

ownership- and an individuals right to privacy can sooo easily being breeched and the internet makes it even more easy.

I do not expect Pulsewire to change their policy but can only recommend to everyone to read the clauses with care and ensure that what you post is what you want a WIDE community to read and "use"... because lets be honest, one NEVER knows who else is "stealing" ones ideas and even whole articles for their own use...

greetings to all,

Kelly Hayes-Raitt's picture

Very smart, Patricia!


Very smart, Patricia! But even then work can be taken out of context and have unforeseen consequences....Please see my response to Jensine below...

Kelly Hayes-Raitt

faridaY's picture

Kelly don't quit

I imagine that this is a complex issue (particularly so in the area of new media and web 2.0) and I thank you for having the courage to raise it. As someone who is at the beginning of my journalistic journey your questions made me go back and read the terms of the challenge more carefully. I had, before, merely had a cursory glance through the terms.

Kelly, you have highlighted the imperative that we have as journalists to read the terms of agreements carefully when it comes to issues of copyright, publication and distribution; and I have learned that the onus is on me to understand the terms of any contract I enter into regarding my work as a journalist.

Having re-read and understood the terms of the Voices of the Future challenge I am at peace with them and I understand better my responsibilities to myself, the people I write about and my responsibility to the Voices of the Future challenge. I have high faith that the World Pulse administrators will act with integrity and good conscience regarding the stories that we publish. I share the values and the vision that World Pulse espouses and I believe that the principle of good faith is implicit in the values of this community and in the training program.

Thank you Kelly for addressing this issue and making me reflect on some of the complexities in our role as journalists; and to reflect as well on the issue of trust and good faith between myself and the publishers of my stories and between myself and the subjects of the stories that I hope to write. I feel a better informed and educated person today and that makes me happy.

I hope you are still taking part because we are at the end and it would be a shame to quit at this point.

Farida, I'm glad my post encouraged a more thorough review and soul-searching of our responsibilities as journalists! That was one of my intentions for posting something like this that will probably get me disqualified from the Voices of Our Future challenge. I will likely drop out and not reengage with World Pulse until the Terms of Service reflect what you and I believe and trust are really the intentions of World Pulse. Good luck in VOF!

Kelly Hayes-Raitt

Jensine's picture

About World Pulse’s Terms of Service

Hi there Kelly (and other members of our community!) -

I wanted to write to thank you personally for raising this issue and address the concerns regarding our Terms of Service. It is important and exciting to us to have an open forum about our policies and receive feedback from our community! I have been working closely with Rachael Maddock-Hughes and our legal team since you have raised the issue several weeks ago to ensure that these questions are answered.

As Rachael mentioned in an earlier email to you, your inquiry is very timely and we appreciate your concerns. In fact, in the past we have internally discussed our desire to adapt our Terms of Service to be more compatible with our mission. However, your recent questions have prompted us to launch a thoughtful in-depth inquiry. We want to ensure that our Terms of Service are serving our global community of women in an empowering way, while taking care to balance World Pulse’s legal protection. I would like to note that the current Terms of Service are very standard in the online community industry, and that our legal team recommended them to us as a means of protecting World Pulse from legal action. We are now beginning to conduct research on the best practices in the sector. Ultimately, given what I have seen so far, I have a feeling that World Pulse will likely be pioneering a unique TOS to serve our community that does not currently exist. Our inquiry and development may take some time, but it is a priority for us.

In the interim, although our current Terms of Service states that we can use content posted on the site without notice, payment, attribution or other obligation to users, in actuality we have a very responsive and pro-community set of internal practices and policy around this. As a matter of integrity and ethics World Pulse always endeavors to check with community members before using their content, quotes or posting their story in our editorial content. We have no plans to treat your entry any differently than any others, and no plans to use your content in any manner that you do not approve. Our community’s confidence to entrust us with their voices is sacred to us and it is our very reason for being.

I would also like to point out that our Terms of Service protects not only World Pulse, but our community as well. There have been multiple cases where we have had to go in and change user names and information in retrospect to protect the safety of community members. We of course check in with the community member in question, but given the urgent nature of some of these issues, may not be able to get immediate approval for all changes that are needed.

Once again, thank you Kelly for vocalizing your concerns. This is the true spirit of World Pulse! In the past we have worked closely with the community to set internal policies around community safety and harassment, and I know that we will continue to welcome community dialogue on many World Pulse policies into the future. I do hope that you, and others, continue with the program – we appreciate your voice and are grateful for your participation!

In partnership,

Jensine Larsen
Founder & CEO
World Pulse

Jensine Larsen
World Pulse

"As a matter of integrity and ethics World Pulse always endeavors to check with community members before using their content, quotes or posting their story in our editorial content."

Jensine, I'm so happy to hear from you directly about this important issue, and very happy to read your post. I am even happier to hear that World Pulse is reconsidering its Terms of Service to more accurately reflect its values. Here is a bit more illumination about my concerns:

• There is a difference between ownership of content and control of content. I'm quite clear that World Pulse allows me to continue to own my material. This is very important to me because my blog posts are snippets from a book I am writing about my experiences with Iraqi and Palestinian refugees (tentatively titled Living Large in Limbo: How I Found Myself Among the World's Forgotten).

Ownership is also important to me because I do submit these stories elsewhere for pay or competition. Without this important consideration, I would not have engaged with World Pulse.

Control of my content is also extremely important because, as I have stated, it is possible -- according to your Terms of Service -- for World Pulse or anyone who buys World Pulse at any point in the future to take my stories out of context or post them in ways not consistent with my interviewees' intentions.

This has happened to me. For example, I sent a post to a contest sponsored by a travel-oriented web site. They loved it and wanted to post my story about Iraqi refugees. Without my knowledge or permission, they posted my story along with a US Army photo of an Iraqi child in a military helmet. I was appalled! Not only am I opposed to the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq, but so were the people I had interviewed and written about.

Furthermore -- and this is what incensed me -- a photo like that is precisely the type of "justification" Iraqi thugs used to prove "collusion" with US troops that led to violence against and terrorism of innocent Iraqi civilians. That web site meant no harm, but they weren't required to contact me first for my permission before posting my story with an unauthorized photo. And they weren't required to notify me; I discovered the posting only by doing a cursory google search. Luckily, when I voiced my concern for the safety of the people I had interviewed (even though I used pseudonyms) that was potentially jeopardized by their accompanying photo, the web site pulled down my essay.

So, Jensine, retaining control of my material is not an inconsequential issue. Sometimes, it could be a matter of jeopardizing innocent people's safety.

• Let's take another scenario: If World Pulse were to decide to print verbatim -- but without my permission -- one of my posts in its print magazine, I would lose the ability to submit that story to other print publications that require first or exclusive rights -- which means World Pulse is infringing on my ability to make a living.

As I mentioned, I am pleased to hear that World Pulse is considering revising its Terms of Service. Since it doesn't seem that that will happen any time soon, I will pull out of the Voices of Our Future challenge and pull down my posts. Please do let me know when the TOS are revised and I will consider participating in the future.

Thank you again, Jensine, for your reply.

Kelly Hayes-Raitt

Jensine's picture

Thank you Kelly

Thank you Kelly. We completely understand and respect your decision. Your input is duly noted. I forsee more lively discussion as we work on the revisions and we'll certainly let you know when the TOS are updated.

In appreciation,

Jensine Larsen
World Pulse

Jensine Larsen
World Pulse

Patricia Otuka-Karner's picture

thank you Kelly!

for taking a stand on journalistic integrity - it is not often seen I guess :)
and thank you for sharing this discussion!
would be very interested in getting to know when your book has been published - sounds like an interesting piece of work! good luck with it!
greetings, Patricia

Thanks, Patricia! I have a personal list of friends and family I am keeping abreast of my book's progress....This is the group who will receive a pre-publication discount. I'd love to add you! Just send me your private email address to my email at BeInvolved (at) aol (dot) com....

My first and second weeks' posts are excerpts from my book:

Best of luck with the Voices challenge!

Kelly Hayes-Raitt

Johanna's picture

Brave New World

This is a crucial exchange. For years, print media have taken ownership and abridged the words of freelance writers. I have had my writing altered and added to without consultation, and resold without remuneration. It was standard operating procedure, even among publications holding themselves to high ethical standards, and it was one of the reasons I left the field of journalism without regret.

Web publication offers the possibility of a different model, so I'm delighted to learn that WorldPulse is looking to forge a unique and pioneering TOS.


I agree, this is a great time for World Pulse to set a new standard!

Thanks, Johanna.

Kelly Hayes-Raitt

Kelly Hayes-Raitt's picture

3 Months and Still NO ACTION

Today, I removed my posts with interviews I conducted with Iraqi refugees because World Pulse's Terms of Service require I abdicate my control of anything I post on this site to World Pulse. These are exclusive stories, and by posting on this site, I grant World Pulse the rights to edit and repost these sensitive interviews anywhere World Pulse wants, in any format, without my permission or knowledge -- forever, which means any company that buys World Pulse in the future has the right to control my work. See the paragraph below and full Terms of Service at

Since I have a commitment to keep these refugees safe, I have opted out of participating in World Pulse.

I am very disappointed in World Pulse's lack of response to this issue. Their motto is noble: "No one speaks for me. I speak for myself." Yet, their decision to require me to legally give up control of my work -- my voice -- as well as those of the women and children I've interviewed -- is counter to this noble goal. I first raised this issue via emails to Jensine a month before I posted publicly on this site, and there is still no change at World Pulse. I waited another 6 weeks following Jensine's response above, but there's still no change. ...Very disappointing.

To view a variation of my original posts as well as other interviews with refugees of the Iraq War, please visit:

These interviews are part of my forthcoming journalistic memoir about my work in the Middle East with Palestinian and Iraqi refugees. To become part of my personal email list of friends and family who will get a special pre-publication discount, please email me directly at I'm pulling out of World Pulse and will not be monitoring emails sent through this site.

Kelly Hayes-Raitt
8. Content Ownership
WPV does not claim ownership of Content you make available through and/or for inclusion on the Site (including the Services). However, with respect to Content you make available for inclusion on publicly accessible areas of the Service, you hereby grant to WPV the worldwide, perpetual, royalty-free, irrevocable and fully sublicensable right to distribute, reproduce, publish, publicly display, publicly perform, modify, adapt, translate, and otherwise use such Content (in whole or in part), and to incorporate such Content (in whole or in part) into other materials in any format or medium now known or later developed, in WPV's sole discretion, without notice, payment, attribution or other obligation to you of any kind.

Kelly Hayes-Raitt

Magazine »

Read global coverage through women's eyes

Inside Congo&#039;s Growing Sisterhood

Inside Congo's Growing Sisterhood

Community »

Connect with women on the ground worldwide

PAKISTAN: They Went to School and Never Came Back

PAKISTAN: They Went to School and Never Came Back

Campaigns »

Be heard at influential forums

WWW: Women Weave the Web

WWW: Women Weave the Web

Programs »

Help us train women citizen journalists

World Pulse Voices of Our Future

World Pulse Voices of Our Future

Blog »

Read the latest from World Pulse headquarters

Announcing Our Prize Winners!

Announcing Our Prize Winners!

Partners »

Join forces with our wide network of partners

Nobel Women&#039;s Initiative

Nobel Women's Initiative