Advice - General / Rights and why they are important / Syndication and spin-off rights

Where freelance writers agree to license the original publisher to conduct on-sales of their material to other print publications (traditional syndication), the industry's custom and practice has been to split the gross revenue 50-50 between the writer and the publisher.

The problem with this system is that few magazines have dedicated sales staff to conduct a pro-active syndication service, so they may, in effect, be offering you 50 per cent of nothing.

Independent syndication agencies that handle words (most deal in pictures only) also usually offer 50-50 splits, but have a greater incentive to sell material as their whole business depends on actively selling the work of their clients (mainly freelances).

Freelances handling their own re-sales collect all the syndication proceeds - so it is a good idea if you have time and the breadth of contacts to do a professional job.

If you use a syndication service, be careful to check the original contract for each piece of work to ensure you retain all the rights you plan to syndicate.

We would welcome reports of successful syndication tactics, to help us expand this section.

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Text © Mike Holderness & previous contributors; Moral rights asserted. Comments to ffg@londonfreelance.org please. You may find the glossary helpful.

The National Union of Journalists must not, can not and would not wish to dictate rates or terms of engagement to members or to editors. The information presented here is for guidance and as an aid to equitable negotiation only.

Suggestions apply to contracts governed by UK law only. In any event, nothing here should be construed as legal advice.