online only, so far

Gently enforcing your re-use rights pays off

AMID th'encircling storm, freelances who stand up for decent professional practice and respect for their rights can still get profitable outcomes - while sustaining client relationships. These stories show the value of copyright and freelance ownership thereof.

One member was working on a long "note" commissioned for use with the "box set" reissue of a TV series. After they'd delivered the work, they received an email saying that their fine text would also be used in various other media. Great, eh? So the freelance politely pointed out that the commission was for the box insert only - and asked for, well, double the fee. And the answer she got: "oh, of course, sorry, yes".

Another writer flogged a piece to a UK magazine for an agreed fee. Then an friend abroad tells her he's seen it in a paper down his way. The freelance hadn't been asked for permission, nor had a fee been discussed. Civil enquiries produced the response: "Oh, sorry, we pay 50 per cent on syndication normally, and that would be £200, is that OK?" Yup, appreciated. All remain good mates and colleagues.

And finally, a surprise: a nice upfront offer for further usage. Twenty years ago there was a music feature. It was republished about five years ago, by agreement, for a modestly OK fee, in one of those "legends" specials. Now the editor says: "you remember that special edition? We're going to reissue it and we're offering £50 per thousand for another re-use." Nice.

Of course, none of this works if you are bullied into signing away you rights. So, if you can possibly avoid it, don't.