Monday, January 29, 2007

Copyright Woopsie

I wrote to a syndication agency the other day, and they responded pretty quickly and professionally. I sent them a copy of a story that went into a major glossy here almost 12 months ago, and the agent loved it. Said it was a page turner and that she would love to represent me in the US and the UK. Said that as soon as I write a pitch, send some more samples and send a bio she would get started on a marketing campaign overseas.

Excellent news.

Except that now I find that the major glossy owns the rights to my story, not me. I'm hoping that because the story was generated by me and not them that they will release the rights so that I can on-sell the story. It really is my story, a personal account that I wrote in full before ever contacting the magazine, so I'm going to be pretty pissed off if they don't let me have the rights to sell it. I'm hoping their "all rights reserved" clause is to protect the ideas that they generate and that they will do the decent thing and be happy with a credit, because it's fucking hard work trying to make any sort of a living from writing and I really need this, both for the money and confidence boost.

I have to write to the editor of the glossy today. I guess if they don't do the decent thing it's a lesson learned. From now on if I sell a story I guess I have to make sure that I am only selling first publishing rights and make it clear that I retain copyright.

I guess these are the things you learn when you do a course of some description. Bugger, bugger, bugger.


Margarita Milongita said...

That is a major bugger Lee. I will cross all my bits hoping you get your story back.
I'll be in Sydney on Wednesday night and staying till next Tuesday.
Not sure if we will meet or not.
I'll come into your shop dressed in a penguin outfit so you don't recognise me...

Quick said...

Not sure if it's a major bugger just yet. Have written to the editor, he was great to deal with so I'm hoping it will be cool. But keep yer bits crossed anyway.

If you call into the on shop days other than Wednesday and Saturday, the penguin suit thing could be odd. Then again, it's Newtown.

Guyana-Gyal said...

Shees, I hope you sort it out, Lee. This copyright business worries me because I haven't bothered to learn much about it. Yet if I want to sell my writing, I must learn. There's a book, The Business of Writing, I think Ken Methold wrote it, he explains it in detail.

Quick said...

I thought it was a straightforward situation, like if you are employed as a staff writer and you write something for a mag you share the copyright with the mag, but if you are a freelancer I thought you retained copyright. It's going to be so unfair that the mag can hold copyright even though it was my idea, I wrote it in full, I offered it to them and they accepted. I know unfair doesn't really come into it, but that's what it will be.

I'm also worried because this particular mag uses overseas content all the time and there are never bio details about the writers... what if they swap material with the overseas versions and just never inform the writers? They could have already published my story overseas under a different name and I'd never know.

I'd like to think that would never happen.

Quick said...

Update: Ed of the mag called. All my instincts were right. Copyright is mine. He is a good guy. I have the opportunity to sell my story overseas now. Holy fuck that is good news. And I'm going to hit the magazine here with another pitch. My mood just did a U-turn.