Kickstarter has traditionally taken a laissez-faire approach to the service. Company officials characterize the crowdfunding site as a platform, a middleman, rather than a participant in transactions between its community members. Kickstarter has never offered any kinds of guarantees or enforcement of project completion, and won't get involved in any disputes between backers and creators except to work with authorities investigating fraud. However, Kickstarter considers the backing arrangement to be a binding legal agreement between creators and backers, with creators being legally obligated to fulfill the project and any associated rewards.
"If a creator is unable to complete their project and fulfill rewards, they've failed to live up to the basic obligations of this agreement. To right this, they must make every reasonable effort to find another way of bringing the project to the best possible conclusion for backers," reads the updated document.
"Every reasonable effort" includes starting off with an explanation of the work that has been completed by that point, how the backers' funds were used and the circumstances preventing the project from being completed. Creators must "demonstrate that they've used funds appropriately and made every reasonable effort to complete the project as promised," and throughout the process, creators must continue to communicate honestly with backers. And as always, creators are required to offer refunds for unfulfilled rewards, "or else explain how those funds will be used to complete the project in some alternate form."
"This update reflects the best practices we've seen from our community to get the best possible outcomes from challenging situations. Incorporating them into these terms is a small but important part of building a healthy, trusted environment where people work together to bring creative projects to life," said Yancey Strickler, CEO and co-founder of Kickstarter, in a post on the company's blog.
Recent Kickstarter failures include Clang, the swordfighting game from science fiction author Neal Stephenson and developer Subutai Corporation. Stephenson officially canceled the project yesterday, more than two years after it was successfully funded for more than $526,000.