There’s an entire industry of people online now who making a living out of subcontracting writing work out to other writers – often for far less than they’re being paid by their client. I have nothing against hiring ghostwriters, nor against ghostwriting. However, I do have a problem with someone taking a “job” for $500, and paying another writer $5 to do it. (I also have a big problem with any writer who will write an article for $5!)
Many of these third-party article brokers are running ads for writers on the bidding websites. Sadly, some of them pretend to reject a writer’s article…but then sell it to their client anyway. The victim may (or may not) find their article published later. If they do, they then realize they’ve been scammed.
We’ve been hearing more and more horror stories about writers being stiffed, insulted, and even threatened by these article brokers. Here’s an example from last week, along with the advice I sent to the writer. You’re not going to believe how this one ended up. My advice obviously didn’t work this time!
(Last year), one of my clients received two of my articles, accepted the first and declined the second. (She sent back) an insulting email, saying it was sub-par work and that I was fired. I did not receive payment for the second article after several unanswered emails. I emailed her, letting her know that since she had not paid for them, she should not use either article, nor provide them to her client. I also informed her I would be publishing them elsewhere — which I did.
(This month), I discovered that the first article was on a website. Finding no connection to said client, I emailed the website owner, letting him know he had copyrighted material on his website. The website owner responded to my email, and also contacted my (ex) client. He let me know he paid my (ex) client for both articles, and received both articles, that the client claims she paid me for both articles, and that this is all a BIG misunderstanding. Client paid me for nothing and claims she paid me for all work. I have proof of no payment (so she has no proof of payment.) I also have email proof she declined the second article and refused to pay me for it. The first article she accepted, but never paid for.
I have emailed the website owner this story, and I am waiting for a response. Is there anything else you think I should do to cover my backside and either get paid or have my articles removed? Any advice or ideas you have are appreciated.
Thanks for your time!
If I were you, my next step would be to send the website an invoice for $750 for each article ($1500 total), for illegal publication of your copyrighted material.
Where they obtained your articles is actually of no consequence to you because you didn’t give the original buyer the right to use your work. Ignorance is no excuse for violating the law. Here’s an analogy I use – If someone buys a stolen car, and then gets pulled over, they are prosecuted. (I actually know someone this happened to and he spent two months in jail years ago because he lost in court.)
If you buy a product, and discover later that it’s stolen, you must return it, at your loss. If the stolen product has been consumed (like your article was – first and electronic rights are no longer available), you must pay for the stolen item.
You might feel sorry for them because they seem to be caught in the middle but they’ll get a valuable lesson about how they should buy articles directly from the writers themselves; not from those third-party nitwits who are making a business out of becoming middlemen in the industry.
WHILE THE COPYRIGHT INFRINGER DID REMOVE THE MATERIALS, HE SENT THIS THREAT TO THE WRITER:
Should you contact me further, for any matter, I shall take the action which is easiest to me. I am a professional Search Engine Optimiser and I shall create a number of unflattering articles with your name as the primary keyword. Should people – future employers perhaps? – choose to Google your name for information about you, they will find my unflattering prose ranked very highly. This will be virtually impossible for you to remove and will likely be there for years. In fact, once there, it will be almost impossible for me to remove, you will have no chance.
The writer has already contacted an attorney.
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About The Author
Angela Hoy is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, the author of 19 books, 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).
Angela lives on a 52' Irwin Center Cockpit Ketch (sailboat) with her family and pets. Keep up with her family's adventurous liveaboard lifestyle at GotNoTanLines.com
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