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Last Week's Survey Results
All Rights Contracts. Are you willing to sign work-for-hire and/or all-rights contracts?


Sometimes - 49%
No - 36%
Yes - 14%

Total: 152 votes





"Right now, I have a modified all rights agreement with a market that pays $1/word and gives me regular work. As the articles I write for them are generally topical and can't be used again, I don't have a problem selling all rights. The market certainly pays me more than fairly. I am considerably more leery of work-for-hire agreements since that requires me to give up authorship. Someone would have to pay really well for me to give up the ability to claim that I wrote a particular thing." --Dejah

"It all depends on the terms. I just completed an assignment for my first magazine that contracted for all rights. Whatever else I may have thought before, I considered this totally fair. They paid me three times the amount they used to for first rights. The only reason I'd want to retain my own rights would be to resell. It's logical that this amount covered any likely resales without the hassle of marketing. I'm happy." --Betty Rosian

"Don't like all-rights stuff but not sure what's wrong with work for hire. Depends mostly on whether I'd enjoy the work, how difficult it would be, how much the pay, and if I can rework it into another article. If the work is something I like, no amount of pay, provided it's fair, is too small. If I don't like the work, no amount of pay is enough."

"There is nothing inherently wrong with doing work-for-hire, or selling all rights to your work, as long as it is done honestly, fairly and ethically. Work-for-hire arrangements should be made in the spirit intended when this provision was made in copyright law, meaning that an employer is hiring you to do a piece of work and will pay a specified amount of money for it. Criteria for acceptance should be clear up front, and if the work meets the criteria, the money should be paid. Work submitted on spec should never be considered a work for hire...Selling all rights is different, as the author retains copyright. The publisher usually has the intention to utilize only a small subset of the rights initially. In a deal like this, the important thing is to find out if and when any of the other rights will be used, and what compensation the author can expect to receive. If the compensation is reasonable for the expected usability of the piece, then selling all rights is fine. But if the publisher is just being lazy or greedy, then it certainly is not." --Kevin Tisserand

"I am sometimes willing to sign all rights or work-for-hire contracts, as I consider it to be part of being a professional freelance writer and editor." --Jet

"Sometimes, if the price is right."

"With a WMFH/all rights contract, the publisher owns the copyright to the author's work and all rights to future revenues from it. That means the publisher can re-sell the article to clipping services, online sites, book publishers, even movie producers -- and the writer won't get a penny out of it. That's a good reason to refuse WMFH contracts in almost all situations. But there are times when I, and other writers, do sign such contracts, especially for articles which would be very difficult if not impossible to re-sell. For example, WMFH can be a reasonable for ghostwriting, copyrighting for advertising agencies, annual reports and internal corporate publications containing confidential information. In other situations where there is a reprint potential but the publisher refuses to eliminate the WMFH demand, writers should definitely negotiate for additional payment to compensate for the loss of future income and should try to limit the time period for which all rights are being transferred (a one year limit, for example). The American Society of Journalists and Authors has posted a helpful position statement on WMFH/all rights contracts, which explains the risks in greater detail and offers suggestions on modifying such contracts. Check their Web site." --Toni L. Goldfarb

"If they gave me a hefty compensation, then I'd consider it. Otherwise, I want to keep my rights because you never know what opportunities will arise in the future."

"There have been times, when I write for a trade publication, that I have signed away my rights because of the particular information in that article. However, I would never do that with an original story line. It might be a short story, novella or complete novel that I have something else in mind for it. I own the copyrights on my various works. That will not change." --Gini Wilson



"I'd change to 'sometimes' if anybody were willing to pay enough, but today's top magazine dollar, in the $2/word range, isn't enough."

"I suppose there are positive points on both sides. I've found in my search for markets that the all rights customers often pay more than the others. But I find it difficult to give up the right to resell or reuse my own work, so I've avoided doing that so far. I'm curious to see the outcome of this survey. Maybe I'm just too attached to my own words!"

"One of the reasons I've become a publisher is because I was not prepared to sign an all rights contract for my first book. I have a thing about ownership and would never expect any of my contracted authors to give up all rights to anything they have put their heart and soul into and made good enough to be published. That's why I'm offering 'negotiable rights' in my contracts. My opinion is the author owns the work and it is up to each individual author to agree to a realistic term to surrender those rights to a publisher." --Robyn Lidstone

"Been there, done that. Regretted it immediately." --Mary Mendoza

"I haven't signed an all rights contract in close to a year. In fact, I've walked away from two lucrative Web venues because of it. One was a company where one of the editors was an old friend, a fairly high-profile site, which paid well and which I liked writing for. But the arrogance with which they refused to even discuss the contract put me off, so I did a couple of pieces, and then quickly departed to greener pastures."

"I have refused to sign WMFH contracts in the past, and will do so in the future. It's not worth staying in this business if you have to work on your knees."

"All rights contracts will be the death of independent journalism and freelance writing. Self-employed professional journalists, writers and authors need to be able to survive financially and such contracts limit earning opportunities for their work." --Maury M. Breecher



"I'll sign the rights to a piece away if the pay is good enough and the piece is interesting. I just did that for Men's Health and was pretty happy with the result. Keep in mind that like a lot of folks I'm used to signing my rights away -- including the series I wrote that was nominated for a Pulitzer. I spent 25 years with newspapers and magazines as a staffer. Now the book has to make it worth my while." --E.D. Easley

"For hire work is pretty much the name of the game when it comes to corporate writing. It doesn't bother me that I'm selling all rights to my work because most of it is very specifically tailored to a company's needs. However, I would never sell all the rights to any of my fiction or nonfiction novels." --Joel Jenkins

"Most of the magazines and online sites I have written articles for take all rights. Because they pay well, I usually let them do so. I would not, however, sell all rights for short fiction or poetry." --Denise Dumars

"The no voters evidently have either a traditional job that provides steady income or some magical source of freelance work that pays generously for first rights. Would the n voters turn down $5/per word if the contract specified 'all rights?' I don't think so! I suspect the maybe voters are closet yes's. They will work for hire or sell all rights, but they don't want to admit it. Let's face it. Full-time freelancers who use words to put food on the table and shoes on the children are like prostitutes. We sell what we can from one trick to the next to keep the cash flowing. It's a hard life, but we are addicted to it and wouldn't trade it for a traditional job. Ever." --Rita Hess

"I think all rights contracts are monumentally unfair, but so are bank service charges and the infield fly rule. The only time I balk at an all rights assignment is when I anticipate the piece has a life beyond this particular assignment. When that's the case, I push for something less severe -- offering first and non-exclusive reprint rights, for instance -- which gives the publisher the flexibility he wants and me the future I want. If that's rejected, it becomes a matter of whether I can pay the mortgage without this assignment. And if the threat of foreclosure means I must accept the assignment, I mollify myself by remembering that the publication has only bought the expression of my research, and not the research itself. Which, I promise myself, I'll express even better in the next article." --Thomas Clark

"I may have a slightly different take on work-for-hire than others of your subscribers. I voted yes, but then the first 100-or-so years of my career were as an ad copywriter and copyright wasn't an issue. In fact I was surprised when I first learned that you could be paid more than once for a piece of writing. With that background, it's easier to accept a work-for-hire arrangement personally, although I agree that publishers are trying to exploit the situation generally and I support the fight against that." --Len Diamond


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