I’m writing a story for the February issue on writer’s contracts and how magazine editors are setting them up in light of online’s growing influence. Contracts, and how the magazine’s – or Web site’s – use of content plays out are an interesting reflection of where the industry is pursuing their product opportunities – or should be. The models are varied – some publishers have retained separate online content producers, while others combine print and online editorial production teams. Consider MacWorld, which test-drives some if its content online before it makes it into the print title. (Kind of like what I’m doing here, to a lesser degree, for a story that’s scheduled for February.)

But it’s more than that. ”You can’t even say online,” says Erik Sherman, freelance writer and chair, American Society of Journalists and Authors contracts committee. “How about television? How about radio? What happens if your story gets turned into a movie, which gets turned into a Broadway musical? How about book rights?”

The New York Times on Sunday pointed out how magazines are serializing their office life as reality TV fodder, and content is regularly being turned into Webcast material. How this is all represented in a contract is getting increasingly complicated. But as publishers navigate the rights issues, the progressive ones are thinking beyond first publication and all electronic to what they think the content will ultimately be used for and representing that in their agreements with the content creator.