Well, this was unexpected.

Somehow, despite me being one of those people who takes forever and a day to write product reviews (really need to work on that, especially since half the purpose of keeping this site going is specifically book reviews–with the ulterior motive of hoping people buy them through my affiliate link, of course), what reviews I have posted to Amazon have been “trusted” enough by whatever standards the algorithm set to invite me to be a Vine Voice.

My name on Amazon is the same as my site here, so in deference to the “vendors are not allowed to contact me,” it wouldn’t exactly be hard to track down my website on that basis if someone were inclined to violate the TOS (and would be equally “not hard” for Amazon to find out), so after a quick re-read of the TOS and the fact that I’ve seen other people blogging about their experiences I don’t think it’s some big secret that I’m not suppose to blog about. Besides, if I do start reviewing Vine products on my personal website (also requiring an extra trip through the TOS to see if that’s allowed) I’d have to point out that the products were “free” in exchange for a review anyway.

 

Ah, that “free.” There’s a reason that’s in quotes.

See, while the products will be free in the sense of me not having to buy them outright, their fair market value counts as taxable income. So while I don’t expect to be one of those prolific Vine Voices who has packages shipped to me every week, I would still have to pay attention and not request too much free stuff… depending on how much stuff Amazon lets me order, in theory I could easily eat away my entire tax refund and then some by doing this, with absolutely no recourse to getting that money back if I am not allowed to sell the stuff afterwards (I’m hearing mixed messages on that one)… or in my case, even if I am allowed since I simply do not have the storage capacity necessary to hang onto everything in the hopes someone will buy it from me. (Some of you might remember my “if I could sell just one thing” posts that eventually led to me donating huge collectibles to the local thrift store because reclaiming the space became higher priority than making money from them.)

But here’s hoping I’ll eventually be able to start acquiring stuff I can review that fits the intended theme of this site, be it the book reviews or gaming accessories… or even stuff I would eventually have bought anyway.

 

Anywho, the relevant parts of the TOS:

  • for six months following your order of any Vine Product, not sell or give possession of that Product to any other person;

Seems to imply that, following the period of six months, that product would in fact be mine to give away or sell as I choose.

Same with this:

  • All right, title and interest in Vine Products will pass to you when the Amazon Product is delivered to the common carrier for delivery to you.

I mean, if all rights etc are passed to me that seems pretty clear that it would be my property to transfer ownership to anyone else as I see fit. (Ignoring the “six months” requirement which means those rights really aren’t transferred to me until the six months are up.)

But this line

  • You may keep or destroy the Vine Product at your discretion at any time

makes no mention of granting me the ability to transfer ownership to other people… and some versions of the TOS, from what I’ve seen on other people blogging about it, explicitly say you cannot do so. I mean, I could understand why Amazon would forbid this in indeed they are still forbidding it–the whole point of the reviews is to get more people to buy the products, after all–but the very fact that they would forbid it means they are in fact not transferring all rights etc to the Vine member.

As far as reviewing about the Vine products on this site, this appears to be the line in question:

  • not submit any reviews of a Vine Product to any other online or offline channel that advertises or offers the Vine Product for sale except in the form of a link to a website operated by Amazon or its affiliates;

This is a website operated by an Affiliate, assuming assuming they’re referring to affiliate members and not Amazon-owned websites; if they’re not, writing reviews with an affiliate link to the Amazon product page is still the only way I would “advertise or offer Vine Products for sale.” Sounds like reviewing the products here is acceptable, yes?

Anybody out there fluent in legalese–or familiar with Vine’s (current) operating practice–who could confirm or my deny my interpretation of these clauses?

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