Frequently asked questions

The publisher of one of the magazines for which I write wants to archive past issues on his web-site. Is this electronic publication, for which a further payment should be levied? I already receive fair payment for first British serial rights. My feeling is that additional payment should be made for putting the work on the website, as this is effectively publication, but I am not sure whether the level of access plays a part – e.g. password access for subscribers, or open access for all web users etc).

Yes, this is electronic publication and – like virtually all Internet publication – it’s also a WORLD right, rather than a British serial right. You should remind the publisher or editor that they cannot use your material in this way without a licence from you, and you should then negotiate an appropriate fee. Don’t be too greedy, but on the other hand don’t be persuaded by arguments that they’re losing money on web publishing and therefore can’t afford to pay you. They still have to pay for computers, telephones, staff and everything else, so why not the material that makes it possible? As a starting point, I’d suggest 25% of the original fee for current issues, but perhaps a lower amount (say 15%) might be appropriate for issues more than a year old. The level of access may make a difference, and you’ll have to use your judgement on this, as limited access may also imply a special subscription. In any case they can’t do it at all without your permission.

As a service to members, a large trade association is offering photocopies of articles that have appeared recently in the technical press. They include some of mine, with words and pictures, for which I only sold First British Serial Right to the magazine concerned. The magazines may have negotiated some arrangement over copying, but I haven’t. Are they infringing my rights and what can I do about it?

Yes, technically your rights are being infringed, but the loss is small and it’s probably not worth making a great fuss. The magazine’s rights in the printed version of your work may also be infringed if they don’t have a special arrangement. Of course, if the association sent actual tearsheets from the magazine to its members, there would be no infringement at all. And the association may have taken a photocopying licence from DACS or ALCS, for which you are signed up free of charge through your CIoJ membership. For DACS, for example, which covers copying of illustrations, provided you complete the simple annual registration form, you will receive a modest but useful payment simply on the basis that your material was available for copying, whether or not it was actually copied.

You should also point out to the association that they may be infringing your rights. Rather than asking for money, which would hardly be worth while on either side, you might be able to negotiate something of advantage to you which would be of negligible cost to the association.

What are the main advantages of the CIoJ Confirmation Form, and when should I use it?

Almost all the copyright problems of CIoJ members are caused because assignments and sales are carried out verbally, with no written record of the rights sold, delivery date, payments due, expenses and so on. The form spells out all these main items, and also provides useful definitions of the main rights available or offered for sale. Most editors are pretty ignorant of copyright and licences, and may seek ‘all rights’ or ‘full copyright’ as the easy way out, even though they’re only prepared to pay the rate for a modest one-use licence.

When should you use the form? Whenever the same information is not put in writing in some other way, either by you or by the commissioner. That means almost always. Since the forms were made available by the CIoJ to other journalistic and writers’ organisations, they are now in wider use and increasingly familiar to editors.

Virtually NO copyright problems have arisen where members have used these Confirmation Forms in their business activities. You can obtain supplies FREE OF CHARGE from Dominic Cooper at HQ or download them from the downloads page.

Posted on by CIoJ in Copyright, Copyright FAQs

2 Responses to Frequently asked questions

  1. Kelly Brown

    I really like your post. Does it copyright protected?

  2. cioj

    Hi Kelly,

    Yes, this is copyright protected.

    Kind regards

    Dominic, CIoJ

Reply to Kelly Brown