Another Writer Gets Paid For Unauthorized Use!
After reading your articles about Internet publishers who swipe writers’ work, I decided to Google my own name, which is unusual enough in its spelling to not bring up thousands of listings when an online search is done.
Now, I do have a number of pieces online, much of them political commentary on blogs, which is stuff I do gratis and don’t mind seeing passed on. But imagine my surprise when one of the listings was for a for-profit, thrift-oriented site that had copied and published a piece I’d sold previously to the Dollar Stretcher website. They’d even included my byline. (So they knew someone other than Anonymous had written it, right?)
I printed off the webpage in question and I then sent the following e-mail to the publisher:
During an Internet search, I discovered that your website has published my copyrighted article without permission at the following URL: [I listed the URL]
I have printed this page and taken a screen shot for my records to document your unauthorized use of my writing.
It may be that you are under the impression that anything published on the Internet is public domain. This is not true. By using my work without prior consent and compensation, you have violated copyright law and are subject to prosecution.
I have no wish to create problems for any publisher, but as a professional writer, I have the right to be paid for my work. I am willing to sell you a second, one-time-use right to publish my article to cover this single use, for the sum of $100.00.
Please remit within 10 days to: (Author’s name and address removed for publication here).
($100 was what the Dollar Stretcher had paid me for using the piece on their website and in their newsletter.)
Within 24 hours, I got an e-mail back from the publisher saying that she’d be perfectly happy to pay me and did I have a Pay Pal account? (I told her to send a check.) I thought it was interesting that she didn’t address her action in swiping the piece in the first place–I expected her to claim ignorance, frankly–but at least she did send the money. Another $100 in my bank account and another “publisher” who perhaps now realizes the meaning of the word copyright.
Thanks so much for your articles. WritersWeekly is the most useful, pragmatic and fun-to-read writer’s publication I know.
Thanks For The Warning!
I’m so glad I read your weekly newsletter. I was just getting ready to send in an article to ‘Dog & Kennel’ today, and I saw the warning on your website. I would have hated if I had sent it in, with promise of payment and publishing, only to be waiting a year later for either to happen. Not only that, but I would have been stuck without using a great story idea anywhere else. Now, I can just find a different publication! I’m sure some writers get their pieces published with them without any problems, and maybe it would have worked out for me. But maybe isn’t good enough when you are trying to make writing your career.
Editor’s Note: WritersWeekly.com received complaints from two readers after sending out last week’s issue, which contained a market listing for this publisher. Readers can read the note about Cats & Kittens, Dog & Kennel, and Bird Times here:
AP Blog Plagiarism: “We Only Credit Blogs We Know.”
I was browsing the newsletter making certain I didn’t miss anything when I spotted the link on plagiarizing blogs. I must admit to usually doing a quick scan through the “Publisher’s Desk”, knowing it usually contains links to books or classes. That made me wonder how many other people do that and maybe missed this article.
If a person doesn’t write a blog, they might consider this problem as nothing to worry about. But when someone confronts the AP and proves the article was stolen from their blog and the AP doesn’t care, it becomes an even larger issue. To me it says such a practice is really only one step away from stealing *anything* written by the little guy or high school or university paper that does carry bylines because they probably don’t have funds to battle a large newspaper either.
It’s something that needs to be kept track of. So I’m thinking you should put the link in the newsletter again in an even more prominent place to make certain all your readers catch it.
I write in my blog–although rarely. But when I do, from now on I’ll be inserting *my* name, a copyright symbol, and stating reprints or copies can only be made with my permission. I realize some bloggers, due to their blog’s subject matter, might not want their names on it. But at the very least, they should refuse reprints without permission. If they want to remain anonymous, they can get a hotmail email address for permission seekers to send requests to. The downside to sending permission is you have little control over what the person seeking permission does with it. My blog is not any great space the AP should be drooling over…but you never know.
Weirder things have happened!
Editor’s note: Thanks for letting us know the link was too obscure, Karen! For those interested, the link to the article is here: http://www.writersweekly.com/publishers_desk/003362_04052006.html
Collecting From A Deadbeat
A few months ago I had a huge hassle of collecting payment from an editor. I then escalated the issue to the publisher who promised payment but only delivered excuses, insults, threats, and of course, more hassles.
So I implemented your collection letter suggestion. However I added “Your Advertisers” and “(insert city) Chamber of Commerce” to my distribution list. These entities have a direct impact on the publication from a marketing perspective, which in turn impacts the publication’s ability to earn revenue.
The result from our collection pointers: The publisher over-nighted a check to my doorstep!
Thanks again for all that you do to inspire and educate writers globe-wide.