Managing Freelancers and Archives
Do you have to pay freelancers for past work going online?
Copyright. Warrantees. Indemnification. Publishers today are gingerly feeling their way through a new freelance process as it relates to content rights and digital media. While most publishers are securing both print and digital rights for freelance contracts, they are also coming to a new understanding of what’s fair to freelancers for both creation of new multimedia content, as well as re-use of older print content online.
Many publications, such as MacWorld, get both print and electronic rights to contributed articles but feedback from writers has led them to develop a provision that allows the writers to re-purpose the content they contribute on platforms of their choosing after three months. This helps since many freelance contributors aren’t simply writing articles for a living but also books as well as creating Web tutorials and videos.
Many publishers are building up their Web sites and online archives. When CXO Media’s CIO did this back in the 1990s, the publication offered freelancers a premium (of about 5 percent to 10 percent of the original article fee) for each print story that was now being taken online.
“We started with our own ideas about what we wanted the agreement to say,” says editor-in-chief Abbie Lundberg. CIO sent the contract to lawyers, who added some of the legal language including the “work-for-hire” terminology.
At the same time CIO started including an “all-media-worldwide rights” clause—”I think that’s standard practice in the U.S these days although I just heard one of our sister publications in Australia is still not doing this, they’re only asking for rights to content in Australia.”
Lundberg says there hasn’t been any real pushback from freelancers when it comes to all-media rights. “We offered a small payment between 5 percent and 10 percent of the original fee for old print content that we wanted to include on the Web site,” adds Lundberg, who says only one writer balked at the price CIO was paying for that content.
Today, CIO uses freelancers on a limited basis and most of its content is developed for the Web site first, with a few exceptions. “The number of articles we’re freelancing for the magazine is small,” says Lundberg. “We have a standing short feature called Essential Technology that we freelance out once a month. They have to send us links for companies mentioned in the article but we’re not asking them for any other multimedia elements at this point.”