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Assignment of Copyright


Geoff Endacott

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I have been sent a contract by Bauer which, among other things, asks me to, "irrevocably and uncondtionally assign to us in perpetuity by way of present assignment of present and future copyright, the entire copyright and other rights and title of any kind that you have in the Commissioned Works throughout the world..."

 

No thanks.

 

As a matter of course the articles which I submit to magazines are marked FBSR which stands for First British Serial Rights. I have been doing this since I turned freelance 25 years ago. That means I am offering the right to publish the article for the first time in a serial publication (a magazine) in Britain. That's it. I always retain copyright unless I am paid a lot more money than they are offering.

 

I wonder what others think about this "catch-all" approach from Bauer.

 

Geoff Endacott

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"Commisioned Works" presumably means they contracted you to write it? In which case they would surely expect to be getting the full rights for their money?

 

If you write an article first and then submit it, you can offer it on your own terms and it is for them to accept it or not on those terms.

 

Martin.

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Guest dilbert

In general, the start of any contractual agreement is a generic set of T&Cs which may have been adapted to suit one or more specific requirements. If you don't agree with one or more areas it is up to you and the contracting party to address these issues and come up with contracting language that is acceptable for the parties involved. No point in signing it otherwise... dilbert

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Probably a Bauer Media standard contract introduced without thought for the subtly different way the modelling magazines tend to operate. As others have said perfectly normal for commissioned works i.e. where they have aproached you to write the piece rather than you submitting unsolicited articles to them. Of course the up-side of that type of arrangement is that you should be paid for it whether they choose to use it or not...

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"Commisioned Works" presumably means they contracted you to write it? In which case they would surely expect to be getting the full rights for their money?

 

If you write an article first and then submit it, you can offer it on your own terms and it is for them to accept it or not on those terms.

 

Martin.

 

They didn't commission the articles. I have not signed the contract. My own terms therefore apply, especially as one of the pieces has already appeared in the magazine!

 

My advice to others, if they receive a similar approach from Bauer is simple - don't sign.

 

Also - always put FBSR on your manuscript.

 

Geoff Endacott

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These publishers are always trying it on. They're hoping you are so keen to see your photos in print that you'll sign anything. I and many other 'local correspondents' were regularly phoned and asked by editors to go out and get a 'news' shot of this or that. That could reasonably be called being commissioned. I retained copyright of my photos for all that. I was asked to write and design three books. Again I retained copyright of my photos as did the photographers whose work I borrowed for the books. How can anyone sign away copyright to a publisher if the photos are not theirs to sign away?

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They didn't commission the articles. I have not signed the contract. My own terms therefore apply, especially as one of the pieces has already appeared in the magazine!

 

Beware that the legal aspects may not be so simple. A contract does not have to be signed to be a contract in law. It can be as little as a verbal contract. You have already entered into a contract with them by taking financial reward for the article. Any associated correspondence that referred to their T&C would also apply, even if you have not seen them. Though of course their case would be weakened without a formal contract they could argue quite strongly that they purchased the article and therefore the copyright. If you have explicitly not released the copyright then your position would be strong, but they may be hoping the big bully tactic works in their favour - it probably will in many cases as all too many people do not read or understand the small print. But I would take this as an offer of terms (a pro forma) and proceed to alter and delete any terms that are unacceptable. T&C are just as negotiable as a contract, the part of which they form.

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If the letter is post the date of the publication though Kenton it won't stand up in court.

What you create, photos or text remains your copyright unless you've signed it away. Electronic documents are fine as they record the timestamp in the file. Commisions would include a clause for this.

I was asked to write up my layout and the text remains mine but the published article is shared as they did the layout of the article and photos. To copy it would require my permission too.

RM & CM are very clear that your work remains your copyright and I was approached to have my layout article republished abroad and the terms were clearly and fairly laid out without any small print elsewhere.

I'd follow Geoffs advice and also add the text remains copyright of xxxxxx if you're at all concerned, date and sign it.

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I had to sign a contract with a former employer that made sure that they owned anything which I designed whilst working for them which was not a problem for me. They did however have a clause stting that i had to declare any other business which I was involved with to them even if it had no relation to my employment with them. I now admit that I did not declare the design and manufacture of my Class 501 window bars to them !. I hope that there is not a use for them in a Eurofighter! :pilot:

 

XF

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Its a bit late to start worrying about such legal matters after a piece has been published.

 

Quite. First publish the article, then six months later send the author a contract, which he refuses to sign.

 

To quote one of our leading philosophers, "Am I bovvered?"

 

Geoff Endacott

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Whilst some things have obviously been done the 'wrong way round' in this instance the terms referred to are quite common. My wife worked as a publisher for a number of years and this was similar to their standard terms.

 

As is often the case however, enforcing it would be difficult if not impossible if you chose to submit something similar elsewhere. Assuming you have allready been paid I'd just drop it in the bin and ignore it.

 

Regards

 

Andrew

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I recall writing what was intended as a 'Reader's Letter' to the erstwhile Model Railway Enthusiast/ Collector Magazine. They thought it would be more presentable as an 'article' rather than a letter. Their offer of payment highlighted that copyright for my work would remain my property and that I would subsequently be free to offer it for publication elsewhwere if I so wished.

I was very happy to accept those terms, but might have 'baulked ' at what Bauer are suggesting to the OP

 

Regards,

 

John.

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You should never have to give up your Copyright as the creator of a piece of work - Charles Dickens fought against this over 100 years ago! All you should be doing is allowing the Publisher rights to publish your work in return for an agreed fee or royalty rate.

 

Best, Pete.

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Whilst some things have obviously been done the 'wrong way round' in this instance the terms referred to are quite common. My wife worked as a publisher for a number of years and this was similar to their standard terms.

 

This might be the case in other idustries but in the toy train world it isn't. I've had this confirmed by two mags in the past. I also put FBSR on all my articles and it hasn't caused any problems to date.

 

In the past I suspect they didn't care as no-one wanted to re-use the articles. With the on-line world and mags offering CD's of the previous years output, I wonder if this has changed or they just hope no one notices.

 

Phil

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I wonder what others think about this "catch-all" approach from Bauer.

 

Geoff Endacott

 

Absolutely excessive.

 

If it was just a small publisher of "hobby" magazines, then I could understand them "trying it on", but given their range, I'm surprised how they expect any freelances or semi-pros to submit articles if they apply such terms across the board. Quite frankly copyright and intellectual property rights are far more valuable than occasional pocket money doled out by special interest publications and I'm sure you can live without the vanity of seeing your name in print.

 

Avoid.

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