Saturday, March 25, 2006

Irritated by thieves

Tech ranted last week about the low-lifes who steal a writer's work. Little did I know that it would happen to me this week.

And to make it worse, it was done by the publication for which I do most of my paid writing.

A message was left on my answering machine to call someone at the office. I figured from the name and phone number that it was someone in a different part of the company (usually it's subscriber services if I don't immediately recognize the person, but not this time.)

When I returned the call, I got a breathy, fast-talking woman who sounded like what she is -- an advertising employee.

"I just needed to get your OK to use a couple of your stories in our special style section we're publishing this weekend," she started. Then she started reading off a list of stories she plans to use.

"None of those are mine," I said. And I told her where my work usually appears.

"Oh yes, I remember," as she lists off some other stories I didn't write.

"No, no, and no," I replied.

Finally she hit on a couple that ARE my work.

"We're just repurposing your stories to use. We're reprinting them straight out of the archive."

"Repurposing?" I said. "And by 'repurposing,' what you really mean is you're stealing my work and not paying me for it, don't you?"

Giggles from her end of the line. "No, (giggle), we're repurposing it. (giggle.)"

Well, this call took place on Thursday afternoon. She wasn't getting my permission. Maybe she thought I had just fallen off the turnip truck, but I know that the presses on these special sections start running about 8 a.m. Thursday.

It wouldn't have mattered at that point what I said about whether it was OK or not. The woman had already stolen my work, for which I hold the copyright. The publication has a contract with me that it has rights for first publication ONLY. They don't get a second run at it, legally.

Nothing I can do about it. The deed was done before I had a hint of it at all. And when I suggested that she really ought to pay me for a second publication, what do you think I heard from her end?

(Giggle) "OK then, I just wanted to let you know we were repurposing it and get your approval. Thanks so much for calling back. Bye now!"



FrenziedFeline said...


So, what can you do now? Can you insist to her boss that you get paid, or what?

Genevieve said...

You should send a certified letter to the publisher, citing the terms of your agreement with the publication and requesting payment.

Does this publication belong to a some sort of publisher's association? If so, there probably is a code of ethics that they supposedly endorse, and you can threaten to make a bad report, and follow through on it if necessary.

I wouldn't let it just pass.

Trixie said...

Genevieve is correct. Don't let this pass.

Sarabeth said...

Yep--gotta follow genevieve's advice.

CrystalDiggory said...

This makes me see red. Genevevie's advices seems sound and reasonable. You don't have to go in stormin' but if you take care of this now in a professional manner, it will stop Giggles from doing it again and to others. In fact, the "others" might like to know about this, too.

itgirl said...

Totally breach of contract. You can absolutely fight this, and because you have a written record of the phone call and the fact that you said no, they absolutely were barred from reprinting.