1. Molly7
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    Molly7 New Member

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    This is urgent. Can someone help me please?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Molly7, Jul 26, 2010.

    Hello Everyone,

    I am a new member here and this is my first post. I like this forum a lot and I feel that there is a world of ideas to be shared among its members.


    I am trying to begin a career in writing so I sent samples of my writings to a nonprofit American organization - specialized in publishing instructional scientific materials. I sent them also my resume and a cover letter.
    They responded very fast and told me that they were interested in my background. They sent me an application form, a reference check form, an assignment of copyright, an employment verification and confidentiality agreement and asked me to complete all these documents and send them back to them with my real signature on them. They also offered "sponsoring" which I don't really get what it means when it comes to writing.

    I am totally new to the world of publishing so I would greatly appreciate it if someone answers the following 3 questions:
    1. How can I know more about the status of this organization before sending them my personal information.
    2. Is it normal to sign the assignment of copyright and the confidentiality agreement before negotiating the salary and accepting the job?
    3. In the world of publishing, what does "sponsoring" mean?

    If you don't have the time to answer my questions, would you at least tell me where I can find those answers. Thank you very much for your time and assistance.

    Have a great day.
     
  2. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Just looking at #2 - others may have more insight on the other questions.

    It is not uncommon in many areas of business to be asked to sign a Confidentiality Agreement before any information is exchanged. You'll want to look at the Agreement carefully to see what all of the provisions are and whether you agree to it. Better yet, have an attorney look at it.

    With respect to the copyright assignment, it is very odd for them to ask for one of those before any work has been done. There's no copyright to assign because no work has been created. It could be that the assignment doesn't identify the work and they're going to fill it in afterward, but that would cause me to raise my eyebrows as well.
     
  3. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have no experience from which to give advice (though the assignment of copyright sounds really premature), but you might want to look at the site Preditors & Editors, which has a lot of advice on identifying or avoiding writing/publishing scams.
     
  4. Evelyanin
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    Evelyanin Senior Member

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    I'm no expert on this either but the least you could do is check it out before committing to anything. If this is legit, you should have some time to work it out. The contract isn't going to grow legs and walk away anytime soon. However, if it isn't legit, then they are going to try to push you into signing those documents. That's a big warning sign. So if you do some research, you can't go wrong.
     
  5. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    You should do a google search and see if anyone else has any experience with this organization. Also, if you have any doubts, it would be best to consult a literary attorney.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You should most certainly get a lawyer, preferably a literary lawyer, to look over your contract b efore signing it. That assignment of copyright clause disturbs me a great deal. It may be phrased to only apply to work specifically commissionsed by them in performance of your duties, but it might also improperly lay claim to ANY writing you begin or complete while you are under contract with them.

    I would also ask them to clarify what the sponsoring entails.

    It may be on the up and up, but definitely look into their background, just as they are looking into yours! Search online for lawsuits against them (those are on public record, or would be if you were in the United States) and corporate ratings, complaints against them. Be suspicious if you find nothing at all other than web info on their own sites.

    Unless the writing samples you sent were technical writing samples, I would also be suspicious, because it sounds like the job would be akin to technical writing.
     
  7. FrankB
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    FrankB Member

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    I'm rushed for time and only skimmed the others' answers, so mine may be similar. Lots of writing-related organizations, including many newspapers (like the Gannet chain) are only offering work-for-hire jobs. As long as you work for the organization, your words belong to them. It's a sad trend but not one I see reversing soon.

    I presume you Googled the company?
     
  8. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    About works for hire...

    These are defined by statute. If you work for them as an "employee" then the work belongs to them. If you are an independent contract, like most freelancers, then it isn't a work made for hire, regardless of whether the publisher wants to call it that, unless you have an agreement in writing saying that it is a work made for hire and it falls into one of the categories of work made for hire explicitly defined in the Copyright Act.

    A lot of publishers make this mistake, thinking that when they contract out to someone it is automatically a work for hire, and when they pay they own the copyright. That's not the case, and it is a good thing for authors to be aware of :)
     
  9. Molly7
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    Molly7 New Member

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    I have just been from work and I am so glad to see that Steerpike, ChickenFreak, Evelyanin , thirdwind, Cogito and FrankB have responded to my post.

    Steerpike, ChickenFreak, Evelyanin , thirdwind, Cogito and FrankB,Thank you very much.

    Steerpike:
    Actually, many have advised me to consult a lawyer but the problem is that I am not American and I don't even live in America. The laws in my country are very different; here the laws of copyright are not so strict and consequently not seriously applied. Any lawyer I can afford to go to will most likely give me any advice just to justify the fees without knowing much about American laws ... Positive!! Another problem is that I am not so good at reading legal documents!

    I could not understand everything in the confidentiality agreement, but generally, it is a written legal assurance that the information disclosed in confidence to Confidant (me) will be maintained in strict confidence and will not be used against the Organization's interests in any way.

    ChickenFreak:

    Thank you very much for referring me to the great site: Preditors & Editors. It seems to be very famous. It is the very first time for me to hear about it, though. I'll have a thorough look at it tonight. Thanks again.

    Evelyanin & thirdwind:

    I have been researching it for about a week, but every time I find myself at the same place: their site. I have tried to reach any official governmental report about them, but couldn't find any. I haven't found anything against them either.

    What if it is not legit? I mean what is the worst case scenario??


    Cogito:
    - I will not be able to find this kind of lawyers (i.e. someone who is affordable and familiar with the copyright laws in America) in my country.


    - The summary of the copyright assignment is that:
    a. I should agree that the ideas, concepts, designs, writings, materials, drawings, reworks, ownership and intellectual property rights which I shall be exposed to during the course of my relationship with this organization shall belong to it.

    b. All rights, ownership, and intellectual properties belong to the organization, that therefore, holds the complete and undivided copyright, patents, intellectual property rights and interests to all works which I shall contribute to during the period of my work with them.
    c. By signing this document I should agree to sell, assign, and transfer to the organization, its successors and assigns, any and all entire rights, title and interests in and to all works, copyrights and intellectual properties in the books, manuscripts and all works; any registrations and copyright applications relating and any renewals and extensions, and in and to all works based upon, derived from, or incorporating the work, and in all income, royalties, damages, claims and payments now or later due or payable, and in and to all causes of action, either in law or in equity for past, present, or future infringement based on the copyrights, and in and to all rights corresponding to the foregoing throughout the world.
    d. It also says I should state that I don’t own or represent to own any interest, ownership, copyrights, intellectual property rights in the books or manuscripts or any related products or interests, even though I may be contributing to such books or manuscripts during the period I work for the organization.

    - The job has to do with writing scientific instructional materials.


    FrankB

    You summarized the copyright assignment concisely and accurately:
    " If you work for them as an "employee" then the work belongs to them" I think this sentence sums up the whole situation.


    All of you, I really feel that I can't thank you enough though I am still not sure what I should do. If it is a good opportunity, I don't want to lose it.

    Another question has just occurred to me now: Is it OK to sign this document before discussing the salary? What if I find that the salary is not as I have expected?

    Lots of thanks to all of you.
     
  10. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    This isn't actually an assignment, though it creates a duty to assign. For part a) they're just saying that they have ownership of materials they provide to you or you are "exposed to" (the exposed to part being a bit vague).

    Part b) they do want all of the rights, including copyright, in any work you provide to them. You have to decide whether you're willing to give that up.

    Part c) you are agreeing to later assign all of your rights in your work. They take everything, in exchange for whatever they are paying you.

    Part d) looks like you're just disclaiming any interest in the overall work you are contributing to and agreeing not to represent that you have an interest in it.

    I wouldn't sign this until you've discussed salary and know exactly what you are getting from the company. You can't decide whether the opportunity is worth giving up all of your rights unless you know what you are receiving in return right?

    Is the confidentiality agreement a separate document? I can see someone asking for that to be signed before hand, but the agreement where the rights in your work are decided should also include what you are receiving for your work, imo.
     
  11. Molly7
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    Molly7 New Member

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    Another question to all:
    What would do if you were in my position? would you sign it? (taking into account that I like this kind of writing a lot and I need this job so much.).
    Thanks
     
  12. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    We might have crossed posts here, but like I said in my other post, you can't know the answer to this unless you know what they are offering you. How can you decide what rights to give up or not give up unless you know what you are getting from them?
     
  13. Molly7
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    Molly7 New Member

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    Steerpike

    Thanks for the super fast response. It sounds very logical indeed.
    Yes, the confidentiality agreement comes as a separate document.
    Does this assignment mean that my name will not be placed on my work?
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it could mean you don't get writing credits...

    but this sounds to me like it could well be a scam... or, at best, a not totally legit outfit that takes advantage of unwary new writers...

    post [or send me the name of the company privately, if you prefer] and i'll check it out for you...

    love and hugs, maia
    maia3maia@hotmail.com
     
  15. Molly7
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    Molly7 New Member

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    Dear Mammamaia,

    Lots of thanks for your valuable help. I deeply appreciate it.
     
  16. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    any time, molly... that's what i'm here for...

    hugs, m
     

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