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WORK FOR HIRE contract…Really?

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Ty FordWORK FOR HIRE contract…Really?
by on Apr 15, 2014 at 7:56:11 pm

Hi,

A publisher I have been writing freelance articles for for some time just sent me a contract that says, in the future, all my writing for them will be work for hire and their's to do whatever they want in perpetuity. This includes any work for them I have done in the PAST!!

Further, if they commission an article and then, for any reason decide not to publish it, I don't get paid.

I don't get to use my articles for any other purposes. It's theirs. In that this agreement is retroactive, if I signed it, I'm already in violation because I have republished articles that I wrote for their predecessor on my own blog - because I always have owned my own articles. They then, in another paragraph go on to stipulate that this is a non-exclusive agreement. WHAT?

I find this attempt at a business agreement onerous, uncivil and greedy.

Am I out of touch?

Thanks,

Ty Ford

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Mark SuszkoRe: WORK FOR HIRE contract�Really?
by on Apr 15, 2014 at 8:27:55 pm
Last Edited By Mark Suszko on Apr 15, 2014 at 8:28:24 pm

No, you're not. But you have to make a choice, and if they want to bully you this badly, it is probably time to part ways. What you do clearly has value, or they wouldn't want to own all of it, forever.

Certainly, you can cross out the onerous clauses and send it back to them to call their bluff. But if you look at the journalism biz in general, and newspapers in particular, your publication is just emulating what those robber-barons are already doing.

Time to move on and up. You'd have to be in very bad circumstances to be forced to accept this kind of offer.


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Mads Nybo JørgensenRe: WORK FOR HIRE contract…Really?
by on Apr 16, 2014 at 8:13:47 am

Hey Ty,

I'm with Mark on this one - cross out what you don't like in the contract, maybe add a clause for the publication having to send you copies of all their publishing past, current and future that includes your work.

Sadly it is the way that the publishing world is going. For you it is a question of whether you need them more, than they need you? Or if you can make more money through self-publishing?

Next step after you've signed the (current on offer) contract will be that you have to produce the double amount of words for half the price. And preferably if you can take your own pictures too - that seems to be the way that many publications are going.

All the Best
Mads

@madsvid, London, UK
Check out my other hangouts:
Twitter: @madsvid
http://mads-thinkingoutloud.blogspot.co.uk


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walter biscardiRe: WORK FOR HIRE contract…Really?
by on Apr 16, 2014 at 11:59:54 am

They cannot enact that retroactively. For articles moving forward, yes, but for articles already out there, nope. Simply inform them that the retroactive part is not acceptable to you and you'd be happy to have a lawyer draw up a proper contract.

Work for Hire moving forward though, perfectly valid if you accept their terms. If not, move on. Creative Cow is an awesome place to write for if you're writing in the creative space. :)

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

Craft and Career Advice & Training from real Working Creative Professionals

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Ty FordRe: WORK FOR HIRE contract…Really?
by on Apr 16, 2014 at 9:47:31 pm

Hello Walter,

Who do I talk to about penning for the Cow?

Tim Wilson?

Regards,

Ty Ford

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Rich RubaschRe: WORK FOR HIRE contract…Really?
by on Apr 17, 2014 at 10:02:08 pm

I agree....it is your right to cross out what you don't agree with and let them decide what the next version of the contract looks like. We have successfully removed lines from contracts when the writer got overzealous!

Rich Rubasch
Tilt Media Inc.
Video Production, Post, Studio Sound Stage
Founder/President/Editor/Designer/Animator
http://www.tiltmedia.com


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Ty FordRe: WORK FOR HIRE contract…Really?
by on Apr 18, 2014 at 1:16:41 am

Here was my last reply to the editor.

Dear X,

Again, I disassociate you from "the deal." I've been writing in a mutually beneficial way for "the company" for TWENTY SEVEN YEARS. These are troubled times for publishing, but for publishers to take out their frustrations on those who write for them after realizing that they have lost control of the market is simply misguided and bad business. The fact is, they have never truly been in control of the market, however without this illusion, fear and desperation drive them to control SOMETHING ELSE to feel right about themselves. For them, the easiest way to achieve this is to attempt to subjugate others; the writers.

I encountered my first bully when I was in 5th grade and it took me a year to shake him. I did. Since then I have had Zero Tolerance for bullies. No publisher will bully me into allowing them to steal from me what is rightfully mine and at the same time also plunder my archive, even if the impetus is their collective mid-career crisis.

I don't mean this lightly. I know the emotional roller-coaster that your publishers are on right now is very real to them. Things will shake out and clearer minds will prevail. There will likely be a generational shift as the hands of those who have been at the helm for years, but have lost their way are ripped away and replaced by younger, (and hopefully) clearer minds. Within every crisis there are abundant opportunities.

Here is such an opportunity.

I will sell my choice of parts of my archive as a part of an agreement. For a total, perpetual buyout of each article that will always include my name and current URL in a point size and visibility equal to that of the article itself, in clickable form if it's in e-form, the buyout fee will be $250/article.

Because of these new conditions, my new buy-out rate for an 800-1200 word article will be $700-$750 with an additional $100 for any custom photography, with the guarantee that each publishing in whatever form will always include my name and current URL in a point size and visibility equal to that of the article itself, in clickable form if it's in e-form.

If after having been commissioned to write an article, the publisher decides for whatever reason not to publish the article, I will receive a kill fee of $350 and I will retain all rights to said article.

May God protect you and yours from all bullies.

Regards,

Ty Ford

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Mark SuszkoRe: WORK FOR HIRE contract…Really?
by on Apr 18, 2014 at 3:32:03 pm

Ty, I'm on your side and you have every right to be sore, however while it feels cathartic to write to the guy like that, in the long game, IMO, it just hurts your bargaining position. I think it serves you better to stay icy-cool in the negotiations and not display as much venom or emotion in the back-and-forth with this publishing weasel. If they know you care, they will use that as leverage. Keep it to just the money and the rights issues, stand your ground, make your counter-offers with a cool head. One of my two main rules on negotiations is that they HAVE to believe that you're willing to walk away from a bad deal, and it helps if you believe it yourself. The other rule is, first guy to name a figure, loses. Had you held out, refusing to agree, without naming your own figures, it may have driven the publisher to up his offer. They never open with their best offer, only the one they hope you take.

That said, these guys have tipped their hand already; you're only a commodity to them, and your best bet is to take your content and your personal brand with you, and find it a new home... or make one of your own. That publication is only offering you the choice of a cheaper deck chair on the same old sinking ship.


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Todd TerryRe: WORK FOR HIRE contract…Really?
by on Apr 18, 2014 at 3:38:51 pm

I gotta agree... I think that letter has a lot of vitriol and not-so-passive passive aggression in it, which might not be well received.

When I first read it my first thoughts were to immediately respond with a "Noooo don't send that... do this..." but then I realized you had likely already sent it, so the cow was already out of the barn. You can't un-ring that bell now. And other assorted metaphors.

In hindsight, I would have either politely sent them a contract with the parts you don't like clearly redacted, or a completely new fresh contract to your liking... and see their response. I think you'd have better luck with that if you want to keep writing for them.

But Mark's right... writing that might have been cathartic. If this is a client you don't really care about losing, heck the "feel good" vibes from sending it might be well worth it.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Ty FordRe: WORK FOR HIRE contract…Really?
by on Apr 18, 2014 at 11:14:21 pm

Thanks for the thoughts, guys.

About them: These particular folks have a fairly long history of disrespecting writers.

About me: I am a writer who seldom uses the passive. It does put me in people's faces more, but it's not vitriol, it's point of fact. That does unnerve some people. I don't care when it comes to this sort of communication.

Have you ever been in negotiations between unions and management? I have, and this is not far from that. In some cases those negotiations are a lot harder at times.

BTW, I never got angry or lost my temper with any of this, but, yes, I did use the language forcefully. Text is very interesting. Different people people take away different emotional twists. Maybe you guys are in California. I have had some really interesting talks with people from CA about coastal communications differences. It's pretty fascinating. You just don't push very hard.

Back here in Maryland I posted my letter to a forum and got, "Good for you, especially the way you showed your knowledge of what's going on inside their heads." comments.

If I was from NY or NJ my message would have been even more amped up.

Regards, thanks so much for your input and have a great weekend.

Ty Ford
Cow Audio Forum Leader

PS: I don't care if they don't hire me again…..ever. I'm at a point where I just don't work with jerks.

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Malcolm MatuskyRe: WORK FOR HIRE contract…Really?
by on Apr 28, 2014 at 10:45:38 pm

You are not "out of touch" it's just pure greed. Send them a note rejecting their contract, I would also contact the publisher, not the attorney to see if they really want to screw all their writers, if so, then post about them at will.

M

Malcolm
http://www.malcolmproductions.com


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Ty FordRe: WORK FOR HIRE contract…Really?
by on Apr 29, 2014 at 12:16:49 am

Thanks Malcolm,

It was the editor who sent me the contract. When I called one of the sub editors to say, "Looks like we won't be working together any more.", he said the main editor had "passed my email around."

Thanks for your support.

Regards,

Ty Ford

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