We were recently notified by a travel writer that some of her work had been posted to a website without her permission. Here is part of her email:
It just came to my attention that two of my articles are published at http://www.exinthecity.typepad.com/ without my permission, with no credit to me and certainly without compensation to me
My website is mentioned within both articles, as it was in my original writing. But there is no credit given to me, nor my website.
I am sending an e-mail to Margaret Manning, Founder and Executive Director of Ex in the City, and am attaching an invoice for $250 for each of the two articles, with a total of $500 for her unauthorized use of my work. I will blind-copy you on my e-mail to her. I am also mailing her a hard copy of my invoice.
You might want to alert other writers in your Whispers and Warnings to check her site to see if their work has also been stolen.
The site’s owner immediately responded to the writer and apologized. She claimed the articles were forwarded to her from another source (but didn’t give a name). Then she surprised us all by writing this, ” I would hope this wouldn’t be necessary but understand if you want to proceed and will respond through my attorney. I am actually shocked by your attitude. My material and articles have been published without my agreement all over the internet. I take that as a compliment and am willing to share my thoughts and experiences. I am actually very saddened by your email.”
She followed up with another email, complimenting the writer’s website, claiming she’d previously purchased the author’s book, and offering to pay the writer $30 for each article. The writer asked for my advice.
I said: Yes, you should pursue it. She hasn’t and won’t name the ‘source’ and I bet there isn’t one. In fact, my opinion is, since she claims others have taken her material without permission, that she may now think it’s okay to do that to others and has done that to you. Definitely ask for her attorney’s contact info. so you can send him/her the bill as well. And, tell her she has 10 business days to pay or you will pursue other means of collection.
She may have published other writers’ material without permission as well.
Don’t give in. Tell her you write for far more than $30 and that $500 is your fee – take it or leave it.
The writer sent this email to the website owner:
To: Margaret Manning
Subject: Re: Re: invoice for articles published
Date: Tue, 20 Dec 2005 19:27:31 -0500
Dear Ms Manning,
Your explanation makes no sense to me. All the other features on your site are bylined and credited, except for the two you published that were written by me.
I still expect payment of the invoice I sent and, if necessary, will contact your attorney. Please send me his/her information.
The website owner emailed back, agreeing to make the payment, saying she’d send it when she was back in town.
Then, the following day, the writer received another email from the website owner which was actually quite snotty (“I don’t spend an excessive amount of time like you appear to; googing (sic) sites for where my name and articles might appear”) and then accusing the writer of spamming her after she’d purchased the writer’s book. She then threatened her own legal action and wrote “So (name removed for publication), I plan to take a closer look at your web site and book before paying this outrageous invoice. I think the person who is so personally violently agressive (sic) about this type of thing, perhaps has reasons of their own to be sensitive about this.”
She then adds that she’s not refusing to pay the $500 invoice, asks the writer to again consider $30 per article, and closes with “I hope that your financial problems begin to clear soon so that you can hopefully see the world through a different lens.”
The writer contacted me, obviously confused (and offended), because she had assumed the problem had been resolved. We, too, were stumped by the back and forth coming from the website owner, though not really surprised by the attitude. My advice to the writer was this:
Tell her no, that she’s already agreed to the $500 and expect payment promptly. She’s trying to drag you into an emotional argument. Don’t let her.
Just copy her back the email she sent to you where she offered to pay the $500 and ask her on what date payment can be expected. Don’t say anything else. It seems obvious she’s trying to make you change your mind. Just state the facts and request the date payment will be made.
And, I bet she NEVER posts another writer’s copyrighted work after this!!!
About 3 1/2 weeks later, I received this email from the writer:
Thought you’d like to know that I did receive the $500 payment for the invoice I sent to Margaret Manning for her unauthorized use of my two articles on her website, Exinthecity.com.
I truly appreciate your advice and encouragement throughout the stressful ordeal.
Thank you sooooo much!
The writer and I both hope this helps some of you who are also finding your articles published illegally online. Don’t let the crooks try to drag you into an emotional argument. Simply invoice them, request prompt payment for the illegal use of your work, and don’t be afraid to demand what you deserve.
About The Author
Angela Hoy is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, and the co-owner of BookLocker.com (one of the original POD publishers that still gets books to market in less than a month), PubPreppers.com (print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish), and Abuzz Press (the publishing co-op that charges no setup fees).
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