By D. Kendra Francesco
No Rights in Writing-for-Hire
You give up your rights – serial or otherwise – when you’re hired to write for someone else. That isn’t the same as being given article assignments from a magazine editor. It also isn’t the case when one of your pieces ends up in an anthology. Those rights, beyond whatever you sell (think serial rights, and syndication rights), belong to you. In writing specifically for another person, you have no rights to the piece once it’s paid for.
Did you understand this when first getting into copywriting? Or did you learn about it the hard way? If you’re still unsure, read Circular 9. It’s one of several publications put out by the Copyright Office. Work-for-hire includes writing-for-hire. Writing-for-hire means you don’t get to keep the rights once your client pays you.
Up until payment point, yes, the rights are yours. Once payment exchanges hands, however, you have no more rights to that piece. None. Nada. Zip and zilch. The key is the payment: once a client pays you for whatever you wrote for them, it belongs to the client. Not you.
Now, I’m not a lawyer. I don’t even play one on TV. Look into it yourself (click on the link above). Hire your own copyright-savvy lawyer and get the full information.
Does this information surprise you? Or did you find out the hard way? Share your experiences with me.
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