Our previous entry on Electronic rights was aimed at rights for books, not for content written by freelancers.
As content in increasingly king on the net, the value of content is rising. Yet, many freelancers do not know how to negotiate their rights and end up losing out on substantial revenue.
Below are the extracts pertaining to electronic rights as published in a brilliant article available here that explains in extenso all the parts of a publishing contracts for free lancers.
A must read for all freelancers!
The freelancer’s battleground of the future is in the area of electronic rights. This is the right to reproduce your work in some kind of computer readable form such as in an electronic database or on the World Wide Web in an electronic edition of the magazine.
Publishers throughout North America are jumping on the electronic publishing bandwagon. Most say that they are not making any money now but admit that they expect to make lots in the future.
The position of both ASJA and PWAC position is that if a publisher seeks electronic rights you should insist on the following.
- Any licence for which they pay a flat fee is to be time limited to six months to a year.
- Seek a share of the revenue. PWAC recommends that you demand 50% of the gross revenue. Never accept a deal for a percentage of the net revenue as you can be sure that the accountants will make it so that there is never any “profit.”
- Alternatively, you may wish to seek a flat fee per “hit” or a certain amount each time your work is accessed. PWAC recommends that you seek at least 50% of the gross amount the publisher receives for each hit. (By the way, don’t listen when they tell you that they can’t tell how often an article is accessed. That’s just not true. It is a trivial piece of software programming to provide that information.)
- Always licence; never assign electronic rights. In other words, give them permission but continue to own the right.
- Make sure that any licence you grant for electronic rights is a “non-exclusive” licence. This allows you to simultaneously licence the work to another electronic publisher.
The electronics rights battleground is still shrouded in smoke. However, bear in mind that electronic publishing has the potential to be the biggest sea change in the industry since the invention of moveable type. Remember that magazines do not sell magazines. They sell readers to advertisers. The articles were just the lure to get people to read the ads.
Now, with electronic publishing, the writing itself has become valuable. We are no longer the lure but we are now the product itself just as in book publishing.
Electronic rights represent your future retirement income. Even at a small amount for each access, hundreds of accesses over a year add up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Do not sell your electronic rights outright or you will regret it.
Writers groups around the world are working on unified positions to deal with the attempt by publishers to establish an industry standard whereby they get all electronic rights. You must resist this trend or you will be saddled with it permanently. Sometimes, that will mean walking away from an assignment. If so, walk! You owe it to yourself and to your colleagues.
There is nothing less at stake here than the future of freelance writing as a viable occupation.
All Rights Agreements
Sometimes you will be asked to sign an agreement giving a publisher “all rights.” That means just what it says. There is no magic here. Sign it and they own all rights to your work even to the exclusion of your own use of it.
Often, publishers will ask for an assignment of all rights with the rights they don’t used to be reassigned to you on request. This is a way to ensure that you don’t double sell the piece into a competitor to appear at about the same time as it appears in their book. Once they have published, they will usually be glad to reassign the work back to you so that you can sell secondary rights.
Click here for the entire article, you will not regret it J