If you’re writing articles for newspapers, magazines and other publications, make sure you understand rights, reprints and other legal issues that can trip you up later.
Michelle Nightengale of BookdSolidSuccessTips.com emailed me a question about this topic. She wanted to know if she maintains the copyright to an article she has already written for a publication and if she’s free to offer the same article to someone else.
It all depends on what kind of an agreement you made the first time, Michelle. Smart Publicity Hounds always maintain the copyright, unless they’re receiving a freelance fee, in which case the publication usually buys first rights, some rights, or all rights.
If they buy all rights, you cannot give someone else permission to reprint the identical article because it isn’t yours anymore. You can, however, rewrite it so that it’s different enough from the first one, and then offer it to someone else.
Any time you offer an article to a publication, offer one-time rights.
I receive so many questions on the topic of articles and reprint rights that I asked intellectual property attorney Patricia Eyres to be my guest during a teleseminar called “Legal Issues You Must Know When Writing Articles for Fee or for Free.”
Patricia mentioned, for example, that Publicity Hounds who automatically reprint an article written about them at their websites are violating copyright. You shouldn’t reprint it without first getting permission. And if the article appeared in a major publication like the New York Times, you might be surprised that the newspaper wants several thousand dollars for reprint rights.
Avoid sticky situations like these, and others, by knowing your rights before you start writing and negotiating.
By the way, on Tuesday, Sept. 18, at 8 PM Eastern Time, I will be Michelle’s guest during a teleseminar she is conducting on how small-business people can breathe life into their businesses and multipy their client base and profits in six months or less. I’ll be talking about how to promote your expertise and generate thousands of dollars in print and online publicity.
I hope you’ll join us. Learn more about the teleseminar series.