Legal Rights Freelance Writers: 8 Tips for Starters
Freelance writing is an amazing job, providing countless opportunities for your creative development. But sometimes a situation can arise, when you will have to protect yourself and/or your intellectual property. Maybe your employer was a fraud, or someone is preparing a lawsuit for copyright infringement. What rights do you have in this harsh and cruel digital world? We’ll try to cover it up.
- Make a contract.
- Determine your status.
- Determine your ownership.
- Don’t steal.
- Register whenever you can.
- Be careful when you sign off your work.
- Research the types of rights.
- Decide whether you need attribution.
Most beginning freelancers underestimate the value of a freelance contract with their employers. Most catches and awkward situations can be avoided by simply paying attention to the terms of a contract. Try to enclose one, or at least keep a full set of e-mail correspondence.
It has to be initially clear, whether you are hired as a freelancer, or an employee, as it has a considerable impact on your rights as an author.
The original author owns all rights for his work, unless they are signed off to a third party. But if your work is not eligible for “Work for Hire” category, all the rights belong to your employer.
It is actually hard to steal an idea in the internet. You should acknowledge, that different people can convey similar ideas independently. But if your original work is used without your permission, you can apply for legal action.
Though copyright protects your creation the moment it is fixed in a tangible form, you may need a registry in a Copyright Office to proceed with a legal action for misuse or copyright infringement.
The law postulates, that a copyright cannot be given up to a third party without a signed contract. You can also be asked to provide licenses of use that can behave much like a copyright transfer. Practically, you own the stuff, but can’t benefit from it, because you legally transferred all the rights to use it.
Be sure to investigate what types of rights there are, in order to feel safe. Don’t be hasty to give away “All rights”, as it means that you can’t use your creation anymore, because you neither own it nor have a license for it.
Some people can ghostwrite content by choice, and others don’t. In most countries (except the U.S.) you can mandate an attribution to be included, even if the copyright for your work is sold. But attribution is not usually a requirement, unless it’s stipulated by the contract.