I was writing for a publication and they stole my articles and kept them. I have an invoice that I sent over and over again but no response. He was paying me and we had a verbal and written contract. What rights do I have and what should I do? Thanks for any help appreciated.
I often hear from writers who have written several articles without getting paid…and then they never get paid. The fact is, if the person who hired you is in another country, you will likely never recover your fees. If they never gave the name of their publication, and perhaps gave you a fake name and used a generic email address, you will also likely never recover your fees.
But, if they are in the U.S., and you have that person’s real name and their business information, you might be able to frighten them into paying what they owe. Since you said he did pay you for some article, you should have some sort of real contact information from him, whether through checks he mailed you, or his PayPal information.
Please see – More Than One Way to Expose a Deadbeat
Top 10 Signs You’ve Been Scammed Into Writing for Free
How I Got Screwed After Writing 50 Articles for a Website
The Scam That Got Its Dirty Little Hooks In Me
Another Possible Scam Targeting Writers
Cons and Scams. Oh Me, Oh My!
Anne Taylor: Before assuming the entire contract is null and void, have an attorney review it. Just because one clause is violated by one party does not necessarily mean the entire contract, or other parts of the contract, are automatically no longer in effect.
They still only own the work when they pay for it. Not paying is breaking the contract. If the contract is null and void, none of it is valid nor can be enforced. And if the ‘buyer’ has vanished, it’s unlikely to hit out at the writer. Sell your work to whoever will buy it. And if the scammer is offering it, get the site taken down.
Hi Susan: I have been a freelance marine journalist for over a decade and all my many articles have been placed with little more than an email “contract”. Often they don’t even tell me how much I’ll be paid. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to “remind” my editors that they published my piece and owe me.
They tend to be an honorable lot, and I eventually receive the funds. One magazine, however, stonewalled me for nine-months before I received a check. I have found that slow-to-pay magazines are usually in financial trouble.
I know that doesn’t provide much comfort, I’m sure you worked hard on those articles, but it’s just not worth the aggravation to sue them. But don’t let that stop you from submitting to other magazines/newspapers, where you will be paid, and you will develop your professional reputation. Good luck
Remember that until you are paid for them, your work belongs to you and no-one has any claim on them. Unless they were time-sensitive, sell them elsewhere as soon as you can.
Anne Taylor: Actually, some scammers have verbiage in their contracts (those things writers rarely read) that says they own the work no matter what. Some have contract provisions prohibiting writers from posting complaints about them online even if they never get paid. And, true scammers don’t care one way or the other anyway. They’ll publish the piece, knowing you probably won’t sue them and, if you do, you probably can’t find them to serve the papers, especially if they’re overseas.