December 27, 2006
Letters To The Editor For December 27th | printable version
Website Posted My Article Without Permission Or Payment
Despite my status as a "lurker" rather than a participant and the time of year, I had to comment on the writer(s) who discovered their copyrighted material on the Internet.
First, several years ago, a similar search revealed a number of my works from several publications on a Web site. Having been sold this material by a "compiler" such as Lexis Nexis, the Web site denied any copyright infringement and the big guys ignored me. When I contacted the editor of one of those publications, not to seek financial compensation, since he was a good customer, paid well and my stuff for him was tailored specifically to podiatrists, he responded that since I had brought "rights" into the picture, his publisher forbid him from buying any more of my work.
Just how widespread the unauthorized used of published material has become can best be illustrated by going to the Web site http://www.freelancerights.com. A group of writers and writer organizations won a settlement against a number of firms for publishing material to which they had not bothered to get the rights. This settlement, ranging between $10 and $18 million, depending on whether you are talking before or after lawyer's fees, is supposed to eventually go to those who sold material to publications, who then sold rights they didn't have to these conglomorators. From the list of several thousand publications guilty of selling rights they didn't posses, I was able to prove sales of almost one thousand features and submitted a claim by last year's deadline. Of course, the matter is still in the hands of the lawyers and the courts so no money has changed hands. But that list of publications just goes on and on.
Sorry to get on my soap box. However, in recent years I've gone from sticking my head in the sand to bomb thrower when it comes to rights. But, it is scary to see how much freelancers are being ripped off every day, dating back for decades.
Thanks for the opportunity to sound off and best wishes for a Great Holiday season and an even better New Year. And, keep up the great work.
Scams Targeting Authors
I read both the articles you put on WritersWeekly referencing authors (or artists) being targeted by scammers. This is a scam originating overseas in a country with no extradition treaty with the U.S. Basically, what happens is this:
Seller advertises a product on the web and their ad is answered.
The alleged buyer makes a fantastic offer for product and agrees to send a cashier's check to cover purchase, freight and a little extra for the seller.
The check arrives via some reputable overnight delivery service with instructions to deposit check in seller's bank account. The seller is then to contact the buyer and let them know the cashier's check has been deposited.
A short time later, the buyer recontacts the seller and asks the seller to write a personal check. The check is either to be mailed to an intermediary handling the freight arrangements or picked up in person by the intermediary. The seller is also told that once the intermediary has received the seller's check, the intermediary will contact the seller to arrange shipping of product. This is generally the last contact the seller has from the buyer and the buyer never takes delivery of the product. That's because the buyer already has what they came for, money out of the seller's bank account.
I should also state that the cashier's checks are real and are drawn against a real bank in another country. Many bank tellers will accept them without question. The bank account itself, though, is bogus. The seller usually doesn't find this out for several weeks. But, by this time, they've already made withdrawals against the bogus cashier's check. The seller is also responsible for the deficient check.
EBay put a warning on their web site several years ago in reference to this scam after many of their clients were burned by the scam. My wife was almost one of these people. When she received her cashier's check via the overnight courier, I had her take the check to our bank's branch manager and verify the check. It took the manager about 15 minutes to get through to the bank and find out the check was bogus.
I should also note that there is a more lethal version of this scam. In this version, the seller is asked to travel to a specific location and complete the transaction at that other location. They are even sent a plane or train ticket. People that have fallen for this scam have either been seriously injured or were never heard from again.
Also, you might warn your readers about another scam called Women Helping Women gifting club. This is a pyramid marketing scheme.