Important update to Instructor Terms

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Important update to Instructor Terms

Hey instructors! You’ve chosen to share your online courses on our platform, so we’re committed to keeping you updated about changes that might affect you. On that note, we’ve made some updates to our Instructor Terms, as well as to the Promotions Policy

 

Here’s a quick look at what’s changed:

 

  • We’re clarifying how Udemy handles taxes on instructor earnings to help you keep your business fully compliant, no matter who or where you are.
  • We’re making it easier for us to fight pirated content for you.
  • We’re adjusting policies regarding distribution and removal of courses on Udemy for Business to enhance our ability to market your content to organizations around the world and meet the needs of learners at work.


To learn more, head on over to our post in the Teaching Center.

27 Replies

What’s the TL;DR version of this? What’s different?

Thor
Community Champion Community Champion
Community Champion

Think this was the TL;DR.


Thor Pedersen - IT , Project Management, and Cyber Security trainer

The TL;DR is that they've released a lot of marketing speak which raises more questions than it answers and as far as I'm aware there's been zero consultation on this.

 

1) Tax changes. It isn't clear if Udemy are offering a kind of support service to help people manage tax, or if they are forcing everybody to go through their system.

 

"You’ll go through a guided flow facilitated by a dedicated tax platform called Comply Exchange, to identify and submit whatever form is appropriate based on your circumstances. "

 

Compulsory or not? My business is perfectly capable of mangaging its own tax affairs and is and will remain compliant.

 

2) Piracy. On the face of it this sounds like they're making it easier to flag pirated content. The worrying clause here is "giving Udemy authority to act as a copyright agent for your courses", I haven't let that phrase digest yet. Is this authority granted if we want to file a copyright complaint, or are we all expected to sign away this authority be default?

 

3) On the face of it is sounds like if your course is in UFB, it can't be anywhere else. But the list of exemptions suggest you can host it anywhere, as long as its own your own website or a third party. Ie, anywhere.

 

Based on my quick and slightly panicked reading, it's possible that all 3 of these updates are aimed at taking control away from instructors, but I hope someone from Udemy will be along to assure me I'm wrong and the update was just sloppily written.

 

EmilyH
Community Manager
Community Manager

Hey @RichChesterwood,

 

Thanks for weighing in. The blog post is intended to summarize the changes and explain our intent with them (a tl;dr, if you will), but we definitely invite you to view the actual terms if you’ve got questions about the specific wording. We hear you that tracking down each change can be a little tricky, so for convenience, the sections it sounds like you have questions about are:

 

  1. Instructor Terms - Section 5.2 (Receiving Payments), which addresses instructors’ obligations to provide updated tax information
  2. Instructor Terms - Section 3.4 (Anti-Piracy Efforts), which gives details on the rights you grant to Udemy and our anti-piracy vendors to enable us to send takedowns to websites hosting pirated versions of your content, and also covers how to opt out of this effort 
  3. Promotions Policy - Section 2.4 (Udemy for Business Program) - "Exclusivity" subsection, which covers the rules around exclusivity for Udemy for Business courses

 

To answer your specific questions in plain English, though: 

 

On taxes: We’re requiring instructors to provide us with information that will determine tax status (i.e. a W-9 or W-8). This is pretty tricky for some instructors, though it sounds like you’ve got it covered. At the end of the day, we need to ensure that what we report to the IRS and what you report to the IRS lines up, thus the change.

 

On piracy: This just means that by default, we can take action on reports of piracy, even if it’s one instructor reporting a whole website of pirated content belonging both to them and other instructors. If you don’t want us to have permission to take action, you can opt out by emailing us as per the terms.

 

On Udemy for Business: To keep growing and driving learner engagement (and instructor earning potential), Udemy for Business needs to be able to highlight the unique value of the collection. We don’t, however, want to limit your ability to run your own individual businesses like your own website or in-person trainings, and we aren’t trying to invalidate any distribution arrangements you’ve already made. An example of what’s not allowed after 7/15 under the new terms would be making a course available both via Udemy for Business and another subscription offering from a different learning platform. 

 

We hope this helps clear up any confusion.

@EmilyH  On taxes....up until now it was my understanding that Udemy doesn't report anything to the IRS, and that instructors are responsible for making their own tax preparations.  So this is a 100% change to that policy? And when does it take effect (tax year 2019 or starting 2020)?

 

Also, Paypal reports our earnings to the IRS already... since Udemy pays out earnings using paypal, won't this create a double reporting problem?

______________________________________
Learn To Code at Codemy.com
EmilyH
Community Manager
Community Manager

Hi @JohnElder - Instructors who have been with us for a while have seen some changes in how we approach taxes with instructors. As we grow to serve more instructors in more countries than ever before and as tax laws continue to evolve, we’ve made the decision to simplify the process for everyone by handling tax forms and reporting on our side. We’ll be launching our tax form collection tool in the coming months, and will send out more details about how to submit your information in time to get a tax form that you can use when filing your taxes for calendar year 2019.

 

Emily

@EmilyH So you'll be submitting 1099's to the IRS now? Won't that conflict with Paypal doing the same thing?

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Learn To Code at Codemy.com
LawrenceMMiller
Community Champion Community Champion
Community Champion

She didn't say that they would be submitting anything to the IRS. She said "will send out more details about how to submit your information in time to get a tax form that you can use when filing your taxes for calendar year 2019."

 

Lawrence M. Miller
Author/Instructor

@LawrenceMMiller  Incorrect, she said "At the end of the day, we need to ensure that what we report to the IRS and what you report to the IRS lines up, thus the change."

 

That likely means a 1099, and that's what I'm asking about.

______________________________________
Learn To Code at Codemy.com
LawrenceMMiller
Community Champion Community Champion
Community Champion

OK, let ask @EmilyH to clarify.

 

Lawrence M. Miller
Author/Instructor
EmilyH
Community Manager
Community Manager

Hi @JohnElder and @LawrenceMMiller,

While it's true that some instructors have had their earnings reported through Paypal, financial threshholds and other factors mean that this isn't the case for everyone. With the introduction of new markets and payout methods, we have an increasing need to ensure that tax reporting is consistent for all instructors. That said, we definitely don't want a situation where instructor earnings are double-reported to the IRS, so we'll take steps to ensure that doesn't happen.

@EmilyHHow can Udemy possibly control what Paypal does? Or even know whether or not Paypal is reporting for a specific individual?

______________________________________
Learn To Code at Codemy.com
EmilyH
Community Manager
Community Manager

@JohnElder — We certainly can't control what Paypal does, but we can take steps to understand which instructors are already having income reported via Paypal and adjust our reporting appropriately. We're in touch directly with Paypal and will explore options with them. We'll keep you posted on how we're addressing these specific cases as soon as possible, well in advance of the 2020 tax season.

@EmilyHI mean, it's not remotely legal for Paypal to disclose any sort of data like that to you guys...Paypal can't tell you who they're filing tax forms for and who they aren't...so I'm not sure how you think you can work with paypal on that... it seems like the only thing you can really do is ask instructors whether or not they want you to file a 1099 or whatever...which seems kind of silly.  

______________________________________
Learn To Code at Codemy.com

I couldn't agree more! My business is my business. My CPA handles our taxes, and I don't want anybody else to interfere. Besides, I'm an EU citizen, so the entire debate is probably irrelevant for me.


“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.” - Albert Einstein
EmilyH
Community Manager
Community Manager

Hi @JohnElder,

Thanks for the feedback. At the end of the day, our goal is to continue to comply with all relevant tax regulations and make the process as smooth as we can for instructors. We'll work through the details as we get the platform up and running and keep you posted.

 

Emily

@EmilyH  Just to verify - I have courses that are currently in developement that are already under contract with another provider. The contracts were signed prior to 7/15. Those are still compliant with the policy, right?

 

thanks for your help.

 

Rick

EmilyH
Community Manager
Community Manager

Hi @RickCrisci,

 

Yes, we will honor contracts signed prior to July 15, 2019 regardless of whether the courses under contract were still in development. However, eligibility for Udemy for Business does not guarantee inclusion in the collection. 

 

Ok now this sounds extremely ominous. 

 

"any content that is available on Udemy for Business must be hosted exclusively on Udemy while it’s in the Udemy for Business content collection. This policy does not apply to any content you’ve made available on your own websites, existing contracts with third-party learning platforms, or to any separate offerings like in-person trainings, books, etc."

 

This needs some serious clarififcation. One the one hand you're saying exclusively and in the next listing a series of exemptions. Can you give an example of a course which would violate this new rule? Own websites, existing contracts and separate offerings seems to cover most bases.

 

This sounds worryingly like the first phase of instructor lockin.


...and how can Udemy (and specifically Udemy for Business) possibly know if I have an existing third party contract with another learning platform?  This needs serious clarification...

______________________________________
Learn To Code at Codemy.com
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