I write books that include additional web content, and if I put a link into a book, I want a nice, short link that’s easy for a reader to type into a browser. Bitly is a free option out there, but before I put Bitly links in my books (and published them), I looked at their terms and conditions (https://bitly.com/pages/terms-of-service). Here’s the part that made me spit my coffee all over my screen:
(Copied from their terms on 11/12/17)
- License to Bitly By submitting User Content through the Services, you hereby do and shall grant Bitly a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, fully paid, sublicensable and transferable license to use, edit, modify, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, perform, and otherwise fully exploit the User Content in connection with the Services and Bitly’s (and its successors and assigns’) business, including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the Services (and derivative works thereof) in any media formats and through any media channels (including, without limitation, third party websites and feeds).”
So, from my NON-LAWYER perspective (I might be totally wrong, yo) this says if a person makes content and uses Bitly to shortlink to it, that Bitly is granted a royalty-free and transferable license to “use, edit, modify, reproduce, distribute… and otherwise exploit the User Content…” for promoting Bitly and it’s services. I get it; they want to be able to capitalize on something they link to, but it’s not cool with me. I work my ass off to retain all rights to my works, and I work even harder to preserve my brand (which to me is even more important). So, the last thing I want is a picture of one of my yet-to-be-released books on an advertisement for Bitly on some other person’s blog.
For me, Bitly’s terms of service are a deal-breaker. Besides that clause listed above, they can also disable or reassign any link, whenever they want… Not cool if someone prints that link in a book and Bitly decides for some reason to modify the link or to sell it to an enterprise subscriber. I had a Bitly account that I used briefly, but upon learning of their terms, I emailed the support team and had them shutter my account.
I found an alternative to Bitly, a little startup near me in Chapel Hill, NC, called Share Forever. They offer a service to create short and forever links, found at https://1sf.co
I’ll disclose right here: I have a definite interest in seeing this company succeed; don’t even begin to think I’m impartial! That said, I do not receive any royalties or affiliate monies from the company. The following is my opinion and review of the service, offered for free, and like my man Charlie says “It’s worth what you paid for it.”
The S and F in 1sf.co stands for Share Forever, and that’s their product: they give you a link that will be valid forever. 1sf.co promises that when you buy the link, it’s yours to point to your content, forever. They have a little clause about inflammatory language in the links, but otherwise, they’re hands off.
Interestingly enough, signing up and setting up your link is very hands-on. The link is set up for you by an actual person. I bought a number of links, I sent in a spreadsheet of what I wanted, and they set them up for me!
The link you buy is yours (currently there are no free-links given), and Share Forever’s business plan is to be a forever solution. So, yes, thank you, I’ll gladly publish and publicize my incredibly short link: https://1sf.co/iv directs to my series website, and I’m glad to know that in three years or thirty, that link will still be active. 1sf.co promises the links will work as long as internet does, and I think that’s long enough for me.