Re: Copyrights, Contracts, and Collaborations

Subject: Re: Copyrights, Contracts, and Collaborations
From: "Cheverie, Paul [Cont]" <paul -dot- cheverie -at- GPO -dot- CANADA -dot- CDEV -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 7 Feb 1996 15:27:00 EST

K.D. Fisher asks:

>>>>I'm a freelance writer who has been asked by a client to "ghost write"
articles for a professional journal. I'm really confused about what
clause(s) to include in the contract to protect my copyright, or do I need
address the copyright issue at all? And do I have the right to own the
copyright for this type of material? <<<<

I take it from your question that your client will be providing the
information and submitting the article under his/her own name. If you are
ghost-writing, you're writing for hire, which means your client owns the
rights to the manuscript and you get paid for your labor. Trying to gain
ownership of the rights on this project is analogous to a construction
foreman claiming copyright of an architect's design because he built the
house. When you ghost-write, all you are doing is renting your skills as a
word-smith to someone else for their project. It's the same thing as a
client coming to you and contracting you to write a user's manual for
his/her widget. Probably the simplest way of saying it is that if the idea
ain't yours, neither is the copyright.

If however, you come up with an idea and produce a work, the copyright on
the work belongs to you. When a publisher buys your idea, the publisher is
buying the right to publish your work as stipulated in your publishing
agreement. Who owns the copyrights on the work your offering after you've
reached an agreement with a publisher is dependant upon your wishes and your
negotiating skills.

As for whether or not you should increase your price to do the work, that's
up to you, but personally, I would only charge my normal rate. If you are
going to make an issue of who owns or does not own copyright of a project
you are contracted to produce, then you are not sought after by many
potential clients.

Best of Luck
Paul C.
paul -dot- cheverie -at- gpo -dot- canada -dot- cdev -dot- com

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