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Defenestration
Aug 10, 2006

This title certifies that Defenestration knows something about literature.

I work in Rights Management and Licensing at a large academic publisher. Every day I pay writers, artists, photographers, and their agents for the rights to reprint their work in textbooks. And far too often, I see writers who lowball their prices, agents who are failing to represent their clients' best interests, and photographers who are screwing themselves out of payments because they don't return a simple tax form.

I'm writing this thread because I hate seeing artists and writers undervaluing themselves and their work. We have plenty of resources for getting creative help, but it's just as important that we share knowledge about how to navigate the business part of this industry.

So I've partnered with our intrepid leader, pipes!, to bring you this thread of advice. We'll be covering:
I. General advice
II. Advice for writers
III. Advice for graphic designers
IV. You have Rights!: General advice on copyright and ownership


DISCLAIMER!
We are not lawyers! (thank god!) The advice we’re giving here is to the best of our knowledge from our work in the industry. It is not legal advice.

I. General Advice

1. HAVE A CONTRACT



We cannot state this in large enough font, or with sparkly enough letters. A contract makes sure both parties know and agree to the terms of your working relationship. A contract protects you from being taken advantage of. If the other party doesn't want to sign a contract, DO NOT WORK FOR THEM. Honest businesspeople sign contracts, and you'll only get trouble (if not an outright screwing) from anyone who doesn't. No amount of “publicity” or “opportunity” is worth it.

Make sure you READ the contract. Know what you’re agreeing to! If there is a stipulation in the contract that is not in your favor, negotiate, negotiate, negotiate (see Section 3.).

Your contract doesn't have to be a load of crazy intense legal jargon. It needs to state what work you’re agreeing to do, for what compensation, on what time table. It needs to clearly state who will own what rights to the work, and protect you in case things go badly. We’ll cover more contract advice in the industry-specific sections for writers and designers.


1a. Send an INVOICE
An invoice is a document billing the company for services rendered. Many companies require an invoice in order to process payment. Make sure you send it in a timely fashion, because after all, you want to get paid! An invoice should include:
● the date
● a reference to the job performed. If you plan on doing more than one piece of work this year (and you should), assign it a job number/invoice number too for reference.
● the number of hours worked (if you’re billing by the hour, or have been asked to itemize your time)
● the amount due (prominently)
● the date by which payment due (and what happens if they miss that date, which should already be in the contract)
● details of how and where the payment can be made (a check sent to <your name> at <your address>, a wire transfer to your offshore bank, a delivery of blood oranges to a local P.O. box, etc).
● always include your address and contact info even if they are not sending a check to you there.

When you send the invoice, especially to new employers, be sure to include a W9 tax form (see below).

2. Don't work for free

This one might seem hard, especially for recent grads just starting out. By not working for free, you're saying that your talent is worth paying for, and clients are more likely to respect your time and skills. You might get fewer clients by raising your standards but they will be better clients, and your quality of life will increase dramatically.

This includes working for friends and family, which will only make you resentful and bitter. Don’t believe us? Here is a handy chart: http://shouldiworkforfree.com/

3. Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate

Do not be afraid, my fellow creatives! Negotiating is part of any healthy business relationship. Your business associates know that your work has value: otherwise they wouldn’t be contracting for your services. If they are a professional business, who want to work with you, then little negotiating will not scare them away!

When negotiating payment, always ask for more money than you’d settle for! If you lowball a company to start, it will be much harder to raise your rates later. So be bold and ask for what you want. If you’ll work for $20 an hour, quote them $30. If you’ll take $200 for your piece quote them $500. You might not get all of it, but you might be pleasantly surprised with the results.

The exchange that kills me most, that made me want to write this entire post, goes like this:

quote:

Me: I'd like to reprint your work in a textbook.
Writer: Great! How much do you want to pay me?
Because even though I work for a parent company that made billions of dollars in profit last year, and even though I believe in paying authors and artists fairly for their work, I am still going to lowball that fool writer every time. So know your rates! (see Section 2 under writers and Section 9 under designers)

Fee is not the only part of the contract you can negotiate. If the delivery date is unreasonable, have it moved back! If the contract doesn’t include a termination clause, have them add one! You want to make sure you protect not only your payment, but also your time, your sanity, and the future of your creative work.

Some of these parts of your contract might turn out to be unchangeable. If, for example, it is your client’s company policy to have all rights to your creative work immediately transfer to the company, and they will not sign a contract without such a clause, you might well not be ok with this! You can try to negotiate a compromise (rights transfer upon complete payment, or you retain the right to use the work on your portfolio site, etc.) or—and this is key—you can decide not to work for them. In any good contract, both sides will feel like they gave up something. But if you feel like you’re being taken advantage of, and the client or publisher refuses to negotiate important terms, just walk away.

4. gently caress you, pay me

http://vimeo.com/22053820?utm_source=swissmiss

Watch this video. Then watch it again, and take notes. Then watch it again. Mike Monteiro knows what he is talking about.

The more you try to make a living on creative work, the more likely it is that people will try to screw you. They will try to take advantage of you and your skills. They will try to make you work for free, or at unfair rates, or far beyond your agreed commitment. They will do this willfully if they are jackasses, or through ignorance if they don’t understand how to run their business or work with creatives. The important lesson to remember here is that creative work IS meaningful and important in the business world. Your work product has value, and you deserve to be compensated for your hard work and expertise. Take the time to protect yourself legally with a contract, and when the payment is due, don’t take any excuses.

gently caress you, pay me.

When they do agree to pay you, please try to make it legit and safe. Don’t meet them at that sketchy McDonald’s by the onramp and accept a burlap sack of homegrown beets or a baggie full of wacky tobaccy. Don’t accept stock options, lottery tickets, sexual favors (ew), or empty promises. Make sure the amount they’re paying you is the same as what’s on the invoice.

5. Taxes and W9s

In order to pay my vendors, I must have official documentation that verifies their identity. For US citizens and corporations, this is a W9. For foreign vendors, a W8.

This is a W9 form: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw9.pdf
It’s handy to have one already filled out, signed, and scanned, so that you don’t have to do it every time you work for a new company.

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, RETURN YOUR W9. It is not scary, I promise. All you have to do is fill out your name, address, and SSN, then sign it at the bottom. Yet so many authors and publishing companies neglect to do this simple task, requiring me to hound them for months. Even when this is the only thing standing between them and their payment. If someone said to me that all I had to do to get a couple hundred bucks was write my name and address on a tax form, I would fill that poo poo out twice and ask if I got paid double for duplicates.

“But what if I don’t want to give out my social security number!”
Then you’re a big naïve baby and I hate you. Thanks to Citizens United, Obama-mart Inc. is already coming to your house to detain you indefinitely in Guantanamo on the flimsiest terrorism pretext, so you might as well get paid before the next SOPA clone shuts down the whole internet and Arizona bans speaking with a Mexican accent. Or move to a commune or whatever artists-who-don’t-actually-want-to-make-any-money do. Just fill out your W9 first.

Please note: you have to declare any wages and royalties on your taxes. This can be an unpleasant surprise for freelancers at the end of the year. The company you worked for is legally required to provide you with a W2 for the previous year by the end of January.

If you are a foreign person or company (aka foreign vendor) working for an American company, you may have up to 30% of your payment taken out in taxes. Ask your contact if this is the case in your situation. If so, the way to fix this is either to charge them more to make up the difference (please note that you’ll need to charge up to 45% more on your invoice to make up for a 30% tax rate, because of how percentages of totals work), or you can obtain an American EIN (companies) or ITIN (individuals). If anyone really wants this information, we can go into it later, but suffice to say, it’s dealing with the IRS, which is always a clusterfuck.

If you’ve ever dealt with a corporate accounting department, you’ll know they move slowly. If your contact is acting in good faith and trying to pay you, it still might take a while. By all means, remind them that you exist, but understand that your poor editorial contact likely does not have much to say about when a check is cut after she’s submitted it.

6. Be contactable

If someone sees your work on the internet/in a magazine/on the evening news and they want to ask you permission to use it, they need to be able to find you. So throw them a bone—an email, a website, a fax number, anything—and remember to check it regularly. Throw up a Wordpress blog with the information, or better yet, a personal website with your clips. If you’re an artist or photographer, enter your info in the metadata. Everyone, insist on including crediting for your work (see below), or contact information in your bio.

I know it's all “authentic” to hide out in a unabomber shack and bang out your novels in the mountains, but for god's sake make your contact info searchable. Even if it's just your bullshit aol email, I need to know how to contact you (and when I send a reprint request, answer it!). You're only screwing yourself out of money if you don't.

Designers, this means having a portfolio website, with contact information on it. Preferably your own site, with your name google searchable, not some bullshit DeviantArt account. Photographers, watermark your photos and put your contact info in the metadata.

Similarly, if you get contacted by someone at a publishing company, keep their information. It should be in the signature of their email, but if it’s not, write it down and email it to yourself. When you have a question, or your payment is late, or something has gone horribly wrong, it’s important to have an ally on the inside. Otherwise, in even a middling size company, they can disavow knowledge that you even exist.


II. Advice for Designers (by pipes!)

1. Bill in Phases
If you follow any of the advice here, holy poo poo do this: Don’t collect only upon completion of the project. In the Statement of Work, define the phases of the project that you will be involved in (for site design it’s usually something along the lines of Research, Define, Design, Deploy), and bill a portion upon the completion of the milestone. Not only does it not put all of your eggs in one basket, but it also conveniently serves to involve the client more in the design process. You aren’t just a person hitting the Photoshop button; in interacting with the client through the various phases you help communicate the specifics of your work, with the added benefit of gaining additional context about the project that you otherwise may have never had the opportunity to learn. This makes for far better design, a more healthy designer/client relationship, and a much smaller chance of you being completely screwed.

2. Revisions Limit
Client Amend/Revisions are a natural part of the design process. Specifying in the contract the number of revisions, and what constitutes a revision, is paramount (unless you enjoy an endless parade of “little changes” that hang over your head forever). Remember: the more revisions you perform out of scope, the less you’re technically worth (since you're putting in more man-hours for the same price). Taking on further revisions past the ones specified is completely acceptable, so long as you’re willing to do it, but it will necessitate a renegotiation of terms.

There’s also the question of perception and professionalism: You have specialized knowledge and talents in your field of choice, and are hired to employ them. Knowing when and how to say no is an important skill to learn.

3. Agile Deadlines
Someone else’s lack of organization shouldn’t be your problem. If a client (or a subcontractor) fails to deliver you content required in the time outlined, your deadlines should adjust accordingly. Similarly, if the content delivered isn’t up to snuff, your deadlines should also shift to reflect the time it takes to properly format it (if you have to do it, make sure you charge for it). Employing agile deadlines also helps to reinforce to the client that what you do takes time and effort without actually having to say it, and is is also nicer than just walking away from the project completely (although you could if you wanted to, provided the legal documentation supported it).

4. Termination Clause
A lot of design contracts don’t include these, more because a lot of designers don’t know it exists. Also known as a Kill Fee, the Termination Clause outlines a proportionate amount of compensation for work commissioned and undertook, but ultimately canceled. It ensures that the time you spent on a project, whether or not it is completed, is compensated.

This may seem harsh or unethical to some (until you have your first crazy client that tries to back out of paying you), but the Termination Clause can also be good insurance against any work you take where you have a weird feeling about the client’s reliability. Personally, I have a pretty aggressive kill fee by default (I consider it an rear end in a top hat Tax), and adjust it on a case-by-case basis, tempered by length and quality of relationship and instinct. My time is valuable. So is yours.

5. Ownership and Deliverables
Establish who gets what and to what extent beforehand. Does the client get the source Photoshop source files alongside the delivered code? poo poo, do they even get the source code? Remember, the client having access to the building blocks will enable them to expand upon what you’ve made (potentially good), but also find someone cheaper to continue expanding (bad). Also remember that your reputation is tied up into the work you produce; if delivering source files leads to them wrecking your design, it may affect your future business prospects.

Speaking of which, you have the right to display your work in your portfolio as a method of advertising your abilities. If clients demand that you don’t show your work (and there are ways around disclosing sensitive info), you need to receive compensation enough to make up for the loss in potential business.

As a rule of thumb, avoid Work for Hire scenarios. It’s a shitshow that empowers corporate slavedrivers to remove most of the rights discussed here and it will leave you cheated and miserable.

6. Don’t work for stock options/exposure
Hey, wanna buy a bridge in Brooklyn?

7. Legal
People are terrible and don’t communicate well with each other, even on the best of days. On a long enough timeline, something will fall apart somewhere, and then you need the courts. Get a lawyer to look over your contract, and then any time any significant adjustment/update is made to it to ensure it’s watertight. It might be a little pricey upfront, but it will save you in the long run (especially if you plan on making freelancing your main source of income). Copy/pasting legalese boilerplate from bobloblaw.biz may initially look legit, but any competent lawyer will gleefully rip it to shreds.

Be sure to include:
Limitation of Liability
This prevents your client from suing you for damages beyond scope. Translation: cleaning you out because of bad blood/any convenient excuse.

Arbitration
Avoid court if at all possible, especially for petty disagreements.

Choice of Law
Give yourself the home court advantage. If you take on a project from a client located across the county, make sure that if it comes to court, you don’t have to travel (and pay out-of-pocket to do so).

9. Contests, Crowdsourcing, and Spec Work
Don’t. Just don’t. I could go on and on about how these things are awful and degrade the entire industry, but someone has already captured what needs to be said far more comprehensively than I ever could: http://www.no-spec.com/faq/

Edit: new video explaining why spec work is bad, in easy to understand language (especially for non-designers)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DsstOs-K7gk

10. General Advice on Rates
I know this is what everyone wants to know, and unfortunately, there’s no one magic bullet answer. There is no standard rate for design work (consider scope, skill, location, etc.), and all design projects are different. Still, you should have a ballpark idea of what you want to charge based on how much work it will take, over how much time, and how difficult it will be.

One good tactic is to check out the competition. Check out similar creatives in your area/scope of work, see how much they’re charging, and adjust your rates as needed. An uncomfortable truth about business is that once you graduate past retail level, there’s seldom a concrete price tag for anything; here haggling and negotiation are king.

Other (relatively) helptful starting points:
How Much Does A Website Cost?
AIGA|Aquent Survey of Design Salaries
Pricing Strategy for Creatives

Photoshoots: Charge by the Hour. You will not regret it.

Some general flat rates for photographers publishing in books, by format or print run:
● Stock photos/illustrations (interior): ~$150-$300
● Stock photos/illustrations (cover): ~$500-$600
● AP photos: ~$85-$150 by print run
● Reuse fee (image repeated on front and back cover, or on a second edition of the same title: ~50% of original cost


Selling your work to stock agencies:
If you, unlike Defenestration, have photography skills, and you have some nice photos from your vacation/hometown/women-laughing-with-salad-colony sitting around on your hard drive, you might consider submitting them to stock photo sites. Every place is different, but you’ll earn a percentage every time the photo is licensed for outside use. Read the contract carefully to see what the terms are, and under what circumstances your take would change. Avoid selling exclusive rights to one single rightsholder if possible, unless the fee is an offer in, say, the 5-digit range. Think of it as giving up all the potential earnings that photo might have made you over a lifetime, and consider if the deal is worth that.

If anyone has any inside tips on being successful at the stock photo game, please post and we’ll add them to the OP!

III. Advice For Writers

1. Contracts
As I said above, contracts do not have to be tomes of heavy legal jargon. For writers, it should include:
● The scope of the work (Do they want to reprint a particular short story of yours? Do they want you to write sets of encyclopedia articles, or thousand-word law firm profiles?)
● Which rights you are granting the publisher and which you will retain for yourself. (The rights you grant are a key part of the negotiation. Make sure you know what you are granting!)
- It’s best to keep the rights to your own work whenever possible, however this is rarely the case when you have been contracted to write work-for-hire content for a company or website
- What territory and languages can they publish in? Do they have print or electronic rights, or both? Do they have the right to sell subrights licenses for foreign language editions? Do they have the right to sell derivative works (aka custom books) using your content from this edition?
- Literary magazines often ask for what is called First Serial Rights, which means they have the right to be the first to publish your story, and also to keep using it future printings of that volume. But after it appears in the first serial journal, you are free to take it elsewhere and, for example, publish it in a collection of short stories. (Note that most literary journals do not accept previously published work.)
● The date you will provide the manuscript by
● What the payment will be, and when it will be due
● The name and title of the person signing the contract on behalf of the publisher (also very important if something goes wrong)
● You might also want to include a clause that says the publisher may not make and publish any edits to your work without your approval. Otherwise they might chop out large sections for space consideration, or otherwise change the message of the piece with their edits.


Note that a book contract is much more complicated, but these days, if you’re getting a book published at a non-vanity house (with the exception of some technical or niche market houses) you’ll have an agent to negotiate on your behalf.

2. Fees
Writers, your situation is a little different than our friends the graphic designers. The basic principles still count, including Don’t Work For Free. But the reality is that most literary journals don’t pay their contributors. It’s still important to publish whenever you can, to build up your clips. This doesn’t mean you should let publications get away without giving you some kind of compensation (contributor copies, a year’s subscription, etc), and you definitely shouldn’t do work-for-hire on spec.

When you get published for actual money, know your rates! Don’t lowball yourself or assume that the publication can’t pay.

Here is a quick guide, but please remember that there is no “standard” rate for written work.

Ways to charge:

● Flat rate (per format or by print run—can be doubled for including print and e-rights, or larger print runs [over 10k cc], or multiple territories [World vs North America]):

○ New York Times articles: $380 per format
○ Any single Hemingway short story (print run irrelevant) in a book: $2,000.
○ MLK Jr.’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail” in a book: $~500-$1500 depending print run and how the heavens are aligned that day.
○ Big-name poetry: ~$10/line or flat fees slightly lower than short stories
○ Haikus: $25-50

● Per page per copy:
Some publishers like John Wiley or Taylor & Francis charge a per-page-per-copy fee. These are inevitably the most expensive. So if you really want to gouge your licensor (and they have big enough pockets to pay), go 7-10c per page per copy.

● Most favored nation (I want what he’s getting):
MFN is more common in the music industry so I’ll get quotes like this when I permission song lyrics. Basically it means that you want to be paid either X amount OR the highest amount that any other comparable contributor was paid for the same publication. Use sparingly if at all.

● Students:
Student essays are actually in demand as examples for textbooks. Especially English and composition textbooks. If you are a student and they want to use your essay, you WILL be lowballed. They’ll offer you $50 or $100 which, as you can see above, is way below market. If you know your rates you can negotiate up!

Print runs can range from a couple dozen (university copy centers making coursepacks) to fifty or a hundred thousand for a national edition. The larger the print run, the less practical a per page per copy fee. I do want you to get the best price possible for your work, but be aware that if your quoted charge is exorbitant, and you show that you’re not interested in negotiating, publishers may well cut your work out of their book and leave you with nothing at all.

● Freelance work-for-hire
If you’re not just allowing reprints for finished work but actually writing work-for-hire then the price structure is a little different. You also won’t be able to retain the rights to your work, or get paid again if the publisher uses it in other books. This can be good if you’re freelancing for regular work, but you’re not going to get rich on it, by a longshot.

Rates for work-for-hire:
Most will be by the hour or by the article. By hour is better for longer jobs, by the article is better if you’re doing shorter jobs like writing quiz questions or exercises.

○ By article: depending on length. Full-length articles at least $100-200 (see flat rates above)
○ By hour: $20-$30 an hour on the low end
○ By word count: rare. (don’t ask for $10/word. Even Dickens didn’t get that kind of scratch. $1-2 a word is more likely, but I know most places prefer to pay in flat fees. Longer articles should pay more, just not counted by how many words longer.)

If you’re taking on a freelance contract, make sure to include a minimum amount (this way you can’t get shafted if they simply stop assigning you work). Also be aware that you will likely not retain the rights to your work after you have written it. The publishing company will be able to reprint it in every edition of the textbook, online, in other books, you name it, without paying you again. This isn’t in your best interests, but it is unavoidable in doing freelance work.

If you really have no clue how much to charge for your work, it’s not a terrible idea to ask the publisher what rates others have charged for similar length works and print runs. They might still lowball you, but you might be pleasantly surprised at their quote (and you can always negotiate from there).


3. If you have an agent
Great! Make sure they are working for you. The second most frustrating thing in my job (and it’s only second to failure to negotiate because it doesn’t happen that often) is when I’m making a reprint request to an agency and they ignore my emails, or respond way after our publishing deadline, or fail to provide a W9 so I can cut the check. Agents aren’t just for selling your book to the publisher: they continue to represent your business interests while you’re in your unabomber shack writing novel #2-10. Make sure you’re getting royalty reports on a regular basis, at least once a year.

4. Don’t work for Free Redux
As we’ve discussed above, working for free is bad, though not always avoidable in the low-profit world of literary journals. Here are some things NOT to do:
● Don't pay money to enter publication contests. Especially not “if you win, we'll publish your book” type contests.
● Do not pay an agency “reading fees” to look at your manuscript. Any reputable agent has more slushpile submissions than they know what to do with, and no dearth of interns to read them. The agent/writer relationship exists in order to make you both money. They should not be charging you for their attention; they should be excited about their clients’ work and the prospect of placing it with a good publishing house.
● Do not work for free for corporate publishers. If they’re Big Six, they can bloody well pay. Heck, if you’ve heard of them before, they can probably afford to pay. If they’re going to make a profit off your work, then they definitely need to pay.

IV. General advice on copyright and ownership

Here is a very good primer on copyright from the US Copyright Office, including a list of what is and isn’t copyrightable http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ01.pdf

And here is a list of FAQs about what copyright protects (apparently people call the US Copyright Office about their Elvis sightings?) http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-protect.html

If you are a law student and/or a masochist, you can read the full text of US Copyright law here: http://www.copyright.gov/title17/

Below are a few bullet points we felt were important to share:

● If you wrote it, you own it.

From the minute you created your work, you own the copyright on it. You don’t need to apply at the copyright office, you don’t need to get it notarized. (This is not a patent or a trademark we’re talking about here). You especially don’t need to do any bullshit like mailing it to yourself (a common myth: this is not a legally binding practice). If you are a minor, you can still claim copyright. In the U.S. this copyright currently lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years. Unless you transfer rights to someone else, it will belong to your or your estate long past the time when it can be of any use to you.

● If you own it you have the exclusive rights to (and to authorize other people to) do the following:
- reproduce the work
- prepare derivative works (adaptations) based upon the work
- distribute copies of the work
- perform the work publicly
- display the work publicly

● If you own it, third parties have to ask you if they can use it.
I know this doesn’t happen very often when it comes to the internet, but even if you’ve posted your content on the forums and your blog and your deviantart, willy nilly for all to see, companies still need to ASK PERMISSION to use your content. Profit or non-profit, it doesn’t matter.

If you find some company/individual/pet shop/congressman using your work without having gotten permission, you have the right to ask them to take it down, properly credit you, or compensate you for its use. (Note that you don’t need a lawyer to ask. You might want a lawyer if they refuse.) This is where watermarks and credit lines are useful: you want to be able to show proof that you own the rights to this work.

● Credit lines

A credit line appears on the content or in the crediting/© acknowledgement section of a project, and attributes the piece of work to the author/artist/photographer/etc . Examples include:
○ Reprinted courtesy of Defenestration. http://www.mywebsite.com
○ Copyright © 2011 by Defenestration [note again that you don’t need to do anything special like registering to claim copyright on your own work]
○ Reprinted by permission of the author. Defenestration is an honorable-mention-winning writer, and wants you to publish her book. [So true.]

Your work should always be credited when it appears in third-party texts. This is how people know it belongs to you, and to come to you to ask permission for it in the future!

● Creative Commons licenses

I would not advise Creative Commons licenses for writers, but they seem to make a lot more sense for programmers, and designers in certain contexts. There are different kinds of Creative Commons licenses. Using them does not mean you give up all your rights to your work. In all forms of Creative Commons licensing, the party reusing your work must credit you. Remember that crediting is key for self-promotion and contactability. You can look at the cc licenses and decide which if any is best for you here: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/

● Fair Use (what it actually means)

A lot of people have a lot of terrible to disingenuous ideas about what fair use is. Let us therefore quote from the US Code: “…Including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.” http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.html

So you can block quote a paragraph or two in the middle of your blog post/term paper/book review (properly cited of course), or quote a celebrity’s tweet in your gossip column, or draw a mustache on the Mona Lisa, that sort of thing.

Fair use does not include “oh I am only using one line of this song, that’s cool.” It doesn’t include “well, I don’t have the money to pay for this, and I’m using it for a good cause.” It doesn’t include “well, everyone else on the internet is using it, so I can too!” It does not include “well, I’m not making very many copies, and my website doesn’t get a lot of visitors, and I’m not making a profit” and it definitely does not include “oh I’ll just use this, she’ll never find out.” Seriously, just stop stealing poo poo and make your own stuff.

We’d like to reiterate part of that, since it is a big problem that drives us nuts when dealing with clients and editors: Just because it is on the internet doesn’t mean it is free.

Teachers making copies for their class is “nonprofit educational purposes” until they start making those copies into coursepacks and selling them in the school bookstore. Then the content is no longer fair use and becomes permissionable material. See Basic Books v Kinko’s (1991). Really, once you start doing anything for-profit, all of your copyright compliance needs to become super tight. When you’re an individual, non- or not-for-profit, you should comply with copyright because it supports artists and to do otherwise is Really Dick and Still Illegal.

● Public Domain

In the United States, copyright lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years. After the copyright has expired, the work is considered “in the public domain,” at which point we are all free to use and republish it how we see fit without asking the author’s estate for permission.

All Federal Government publications, including court cases and laws, are in the public domain. This is not necessarily true of state government documents (varies by the jurisdiction).

Note that while many works of art are old enough to be in the public domain, photographs of those works of art are copyrighted, and belong to the photographer or agency.

You might be asking: Why does copyright last for so goddamn long after it has ceased to be any benefit to the author, and exists only to line the pockets of spoiled heirs and multinational corporations?

Mickey Mouse, that’s why.






Conclusion:
So concludes our presentation for you, citizens of Creative Convention, on the business of art, copyright, and getting paid what you’re worth for the work that you do. May you all use this information to become better businesspeople, and better able to make a living doing artistic work that you love.

If anyone has questions, further resources, experience, or horror stories on this subject, please share!

Defenestration fucked around with this message at Jun 28, 2012 around 03:23

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Defenestration
Aug 10, 2006

This title certifies that Defenestration knows something about literature.

Other resources


The Graphics Artist Guild
https://www.graphicartistsguild.org/

Kerfuffle posted:

Def put up info about joining the Graphics Artist Guild. They'll have your back in legal situations. You also get a copy of the GAG Priceguide book with your membership.

Here's a useful pdf about copyright myths: https://www.graphicartistsguild.org...opyright-myths/
UPDATE: Sorry, you have to sign up to get the myths now. https://graphicartistsguild.org/too...copyright-myths


Books
Business and Legal Forms for Illustrators***
***Not a substitute for good legal representation. It's always best to have a lawyer look over your contracts and templates. But of course, sometimes that is not an option.


Children's Authors (and illustrators)
http://andyelkerton.wordpress.com/2...-step-one-dont/

Children's publishing is a strange beast, with a much higher slush to gems ratio. Most of what I know about it is rumors, so if anyone has any advice, feel free to share.

Estimating Tax Payments for Freelancers
by Josh Fruhlinger (the Comics Curmudgeon)

http://thebillfold.com/2012/09/here...or-freelancers/


Rates for Editorial Work
By the Editorial Freelancers Association

http://www.the-efa.org/res/rates.php

Freelance Writing

Who Pays Writers? - "A place to list whether, and how much, magazines and websites pay their writers. We'll post 'em as you report 'em. Intended to be informational, not judgmental. "
http://whopays.tumblr.com/

Money talks
"How to find out what other writers are paid so you know how to set your own rates"
Article by Ann Friedman (of editorrealtalk)
http://www.cjr.org/realtalk/money_talk.php

Defenestration fucked around with this message at Oct 30, 2014 around 04:31

Defenestration
Aug 10, 2006

This title certifies that Defenestration knows something about literature.

Found a more in-depth article about Fair Use. It's in the context of posting sports clips, but the fair use tests are still relevant.

http://www.citizen.org/Page.aspx?pid=5391

Molten Llama
Sep 20, 2006


Defenestration posted:

This is a W9 form: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw9.pdf
It’s handy to have one already filled out, signed, and scanned, so that you don’t have to do it every time you work for a new company.

This is actually even simpler: A W-9 generally does not need to be signed. Download the fillable PDF from the IRS, fill it out, save it, and you're done. No printing, no scanning, no trying to coax large scanned files through corporate email servers.

AlexanderVenturi
Apr 1, 2012


This makes perfect sense! I'm just starting to get interested in the selling side of things, so it's good that I read this - quite fortuitous!

cosaine
Feb 1, 2009

by angerbot


Hey, read the OP but just curious, if I was to sell artwork, even to random people, not businesses, would I need to account that into my taxes(NY)? Thanks in advanced.

Chitin
Apr 29, 2007

It is no sign of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.

cosaine posted:

Hey, read the OP but just curious, if I was to sell artwork, even to random people, not businesses, would I need to account that into my taxes(NY)? Thanks in advanced.

It's income, so yes.

Beat.
Nov 22, 2003

Hey, baby, wanna come up and see my etchings?


Chitin posted:

It's income, so yes.

I don't sell enough personally (less than probably $5,000 a year) and almost all my transactions are cash. I'll never claim any of that on my taxes. At the point where I'm actually pulling in money that's hitting my soc (through a bank account/1099/invoice/po/etc) I will claim that amount plus any related expenses. But most people at the bottom end have no real incentive to go through all the bullshit related to taxes when the likelihood of any audit at that level is practically zero.

Chitin
Apr 29, 2007

It is no sign of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.

Oh, well yeah. I thought he was looking for the legal answer, not the practical answer.

lord funk
Feb 16, 2004



Beat. posted:

I don't sell enough personally (less than probably $5,000 a year) and almost all my transactions are cash. I'll never claim any of that on my taxes. At the point where I'm actually pulling in money that's hitting my soc (through a bank account/1099/invoice/po/etc) I will claim that amount plus any related expenses. But most people at the bottom end have no real incentive to go through all the bullshit related to taxes when the likelihood of any audit at that level is practically zero.

You should be declaring it, not just to be honest, but to save money. The benefit is that you can claim lots of expenses against that small amount of income, and operate at a loss (i.e. - you're spending more money on the job than your earning). This will have a tangible benefit on your tax bottom line.

I finally found an accountant that deals specifically with musicians. I deduct all of my music related expenses. Concert tickets, travel expenses, equipment (sooooo nice to be able to deduct this), etc. Ask your accountant for a full list. You'll be surprised.

Nessa
Dec 15, 2008



Back when I first did my taxes, I printed off all the email invoices I sent for comic flatting work, but the tax guy said it wasn't necessary. I was making less than $10,00/per year which made me technically unemployed and none of my invoices counted. I was told that minor freelancing work like that didn't count.

I regret not trying to write off the computer I bought that year.

Vaporware
May 22, 2004

Still not here yet.

Anyone have recommendations for books/articles about the various ways of running a design department? I've already researched Scrum, and read a bit about management in general.

My particular case is I am now running the in-house design department for a large company that does training animation and technical documentation.

I supervise 5 people, so I'm not totally lost. But, I know expanding a shop and doing it well is totally different from keeping things afloat. I'm in need of advice on how to communicate with sales on projects ($1M+ contracts), Management of designers, hiring, etc.

DaveP
Apr 25, 2011


Vaporware posted:

Anyone have recommendations for books/articles about the various ways of running a design department? I've already researched Scrum, and read a bit about management in general.

My particular case is I am now running the in-house design department for a large company that does training animation and technical documentation.

I supervise 5 people, so I'm not totally lost. But, I know expanding a shop and doing it well is totally different from keeping things afloat. I'm in need of advice on how to communicate with sales on projects ($1M+ contracts), Management of designers, hiring, etc.

Might I suggest this could be a good opportunity to pursue a more formal (part time/night school) education in business & management? It sounds like you're in a situation where you're starting to move above the realm of the craft you studied in to another kettle of fish -and perhaps a book is not the golden bullet you'd be searching for

Beat.
Nov 22, 2003

Hey, baby, wanna come up and see my etchings?


I'd suggest seeking a mentor or mentors before a business program. Outside of certain elite programs most business schools are just cash cows for universities and you really would, both financially and intellectually, be better off reading books. A mentor in your field will give you practical advice and help build your network in different directions.

Vaporware
May 22, 2004

Still not here yet.

Thanks, I've been looking into MBAs for a couple days now and I would love to go back to school, but I just can't make the time.

Thanks for the suggestion, I'll look into talking to the people I know at adult swim. Maybe they have a tutorial or something they can share.

Anyone have a starting point author, even if it's just about design, not about management? I'd like to hear more like Mike Monteiro's panel. I watched a bunch more from that convention. Very interesting.

Kerfuffle
Aug 16, 2007

The sky calls to us~


Def put up info about joining the Graphics Artist Guild. They'll have your back in legal situations. You also get a copy of the GAG Priceguide book with your membership.

Here's a useful pdf about copyright myths: https://www.graphicartistsguild.org...opyright-myths/

Also, illustrators: be wary of self publishing authors that want *you* to illustrate their totally awesome book. I have gotten more insulting offers from self publishing authors than any other client type. Don't accept royalties as payment for your work. You are not a bank. Always get an advance and don't sell yourself short for "a great portfolio piece".

e: I'm still horribly new at taxes, but one of my legal forms books said that unless you're getting more than $600 from a single client in a year don't bother reporting. Is that true?

Kerfuffle fucked around with this message at May 11, 2012 around 21:13

Stuporstar
May 5, 2008

One day, cock of the walk. Next, a feather duster.



Kerfuffle posted:

Also, illustrators: be wary of self publishing authors that want *you* to illustrate their totally awesome book. I have gotten more insulting offers from self publishing authors than any other client type. Don't accept royalties as payment for your work. You are not a bank. Always get an advance and don't sell yourself short for "a great portfolio piece".

As a good baseline, I know of one cover designer who charges $400 for a front cover design, and that's photo manipulation, basic graphics, and text, NOT illustration. For a proper illustration, you should be charging more.

Kerfuffle
Aug 16, 2007

The sky calls to us~


Stuporstar posted:

As a good baseline, I know of one cover designer who charges $400 for a front cover design, and that's photo manipulation, basic graphics, and text, NOT illustration. For a proper illustration, you should be charging more.
I've been getting terribly underpaid for my jobs lately and I know it. Usually for $200-300 less than what I should be getting, and they absolutely won't budge on their given estimate (lately estimates have been given to me up front, making it harder to negotiate). Granted this is from individuals, not companies, but still. The market is so bad and it really feels like people are taking advantage of this, I just really need money, ugh.

Not getting that extra $250 is one thing, but it's another when people come along thinking they can pay me $300 for a 32 page book. And I'm getting the deal of a lifetime!

I really like this blogpost a lot concerning dealing with self publishing authors: http://andyelkerton.wordpress.com/2...-step-one-dont/

I'm also going to echo the sentiment about never, ever working for friends/family members without payment/contract. I stupidly ignored my own knowledge of this, and I regretted it for the entirety of the project. It still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. You'll ALWAYS be taken advantage of.

Defenestration
Aug 10, 2006

This title certifies that Defenestration knows something about literature.

I put up Kerfuffle's info on the Guild and that children's illustrator post. Thanks Kerfuffle!

If you all have any more resources, post them here and I'll add them to the second post

Authentic You
Mar 4, 2007

Listen now this is your
captain calling:
Your captain is dead.


Kerfuffle posted:

Also, illustrators: be wary of self publishing authors that want *you* to illustrate their totally awesome book. I have gotten more insulting offers from self publishing authors than any other client type. Don't accept royalties as payment for your work. You are not a bank. Always get an advance and don't sell yourself short for "a great portfolio piece".
I got something like this the other day. Someone PMed me on DeviantArt saying they really liked my art and wanted my work for their album cover (I'm presuming some aelf-produced thing), but didn't have any money (yet) to commission a new piece and asked if they could use an existing piece. (Because since I already made it I wouldn't charge money for its use..?). I responded that I'd be happy to license the use the work in question. Haven't heard back. So many people just don't understand the commercial side of art and that it's not the same as personal commissions/requests.

As for resources, my mom (an attorney) bought this book for me after I low-balled my first commercial illustration job and didn't negotiate the terms of the contract:

Business and Legal Forms for Illustrators

It's a good guide to everything to look out for in commercial jobs and contains form contracts you can customize and checklists of things to negotiate and look out for in contracts. There are other books in this series concerning graphic designers, fine artists, etc.

Physical
Sep 26, 2007

by T. Finninho


I don't get the mickey mouse copyright law thing. Did Disney just keep lobbying to keep extending copyrights?

Juanito
Jan 20, 2004

I wasn't paying attention
to what you just said.

Can you repeat yourself
in a more interesting way?


Physical posted:

I don't get the mickey mouse copyright law thing. Did Disney just keep lobbying to keep extending copyrights?
Yep, Disney is pretty much responsible for screwing up copyright law, and extending the copyright period for a ridiculous amount of time.

qirex
Feb 15, 2001



Juanito posted:

Yep, Disney is pretty much responsible for screwing up copyright law, and extending the copyright period for a ridiculous amount of time.

If they hadn't taken the lead on that I'm sure Fox/Universal/Warner would have teamed up for a similar result, it's just that Disney's incredibly old work still makes up a huge volume of their current revenue. Kind of ironic given that the vast majority of their films are based on existing public domain works.

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


I was curious, the gf is getting her first paid internship (well interviewing) for a graphic design gig. They told her to send a salary requirement along with here references for her interview on Monday. The dilemma is she has no idea what to pitch back to them. She doesn't want to lowball herself, but she's afraid because it's only an internship if she goes too high they might just pass on her and go for someone else.

This is in California, LA county, for factoring in living.

Doctor Dope
Oct 4, 2005

timey-wimey fruity booty


How do I go about pitching college essays to a textbook publishing company? I've tried a few different searches and all I get for results are sketchy essay mills.

TheBigBad
Feb 27, 2004

Madness is rare in individuals, but in groups, parties, nations and ages it is the rule.

Noah posted:

I was curious, the gf is getting her first paid internship (well interviewing) for a graphic design gig. They told her to send a salary requirement along with here references for her interview on Monday. The dilemma is she has no idea what to pitch back to them. She doesn't want to lowball herself, but she's afraid because it's only an internship if she goes too high they might just pass on her and go for someone else.

This is in California, LA county, for factoring in living.

There are various job titles that are similar. Junior Graphic Designer. Level 1 Mouse Pusher... so figure out what companies are calling similar positions.

Do a search on payscale.com and salary.com and to some extent glassdoor.com and they can limit by region. Give more allegiance to duties assigned.

If they did not list the duties assigned in the job post then take the most common duties and make your salary case based on those. i.e. It would depend on the duties assigned to the position- if they are comparable to these then I would be interested in a salary of blah.

You will want to land in the median depending on what you bring to the table.

So that's not the answer you were looking for, but its how to find it.

Defenestration
Aug 10, 2006

This title certifies that Defenestration knows something about literature.

GonzoRonin posted:

How do I go about pitching college essays to a textbook publishing company? I've tried a few different searches and all I get for results are sketchy essay mills.
Are you trying to pitch a book of essays, or just sell your own as one-offs?

Because if it's the latter, I've never heard of it being done that way (like a magazine pitch process). Either the professors who are authoring the book will have examples from their own classes/department that serve a particular pedagogy, or the publishing house will have freelancers write them.

Doctor Dope
Oct 4, 2005

timey-wimey fruity booty


Defenestration posted:

Are you trying to pitch a book of essays, or just sell your own as one-offs?

Because if it's the latter, I've never heard of it being done that way (like a magazine pitch process). Either the professors who are authoring the book will have examples from their own classes/department that serve a particular pedagogy, or the publishing house will have freelancers write them.

The English department head at the school I just graduated from actually wrote/published his own English textbook using student essays as examples. I don't know if he or anyone else at the college is writing another one, but I thought it might be worth it to at least email the guy with a few examples of my work and ask, but I want to make sure I won't look like an amateur moron first.

Defenestration
Aug 10, 2006

This title certifies that Defenestration knows something about literature.

GonzoRonin posted:

The English department head at the school I just graduated from actually wrote/published his own English textbook using student essays as examples. I don't know if he or anyone else at the college is writing another one, but I thought it might be worth it to at least email the guy with a few examples of my work and ask, but I want to make sure I won't look like an amateur moron first.
Ok, that's a better situation than I thought you were in. Did you have a mentor or favorite teacher on the faculty who could go to bat for you? It might be less awkward that way than you querying the author directly.

They'll probably be looking to update the textbook for a new edition (as teachers and publishing companies love to do), so don't worry about whether they're looking for essays or not. Be prepared with pieces in the department's pet genres: does every freshman comp class do a compare/contrast essay? An editorial? A research paper?

Nessa
Dec 15, 2008



I'm disappointed. I thought I had an alright colouring job lined up, but they said they don't really "do" contracts.

Edit: I sent an email last night stating the reasons why a contract is good for both parties and that it's very important for a long term project, so that both parties have proper expectations about the arrangement. I just asked if he could write out a set of terms about when I will get paid and how many pages they need in a given time frame, so I'm able to schedule my time effectively. I also wanted to know about their printing process and how the files needed to be prepared.

I just got a pop-up saying that all the files have been removed from my Dropbox.

They claimed that I could send low-res jpegs until I got paid, but I now have the sneaking suspicion that they would have just tried to print the jpegs to get out of paying me.

Nessa fucked around with this message at Jun 4, 2012 around 16:24

qirex
Feb 15, 2001



Nessa posted:

I'm disappointed. I thought I had an alright colouring job lined up, but they said they don't really "do" contracts.
It sounds like you dodged a bullet.

RGBRIOT
Apr 19, 2009

"Beauty, packaged for a digital world."


Thanks for posting this. It's been a very interesting read. One of the things I'm constantly struggling with is balancing making sure my clients are happy with their final products with out being taken advantage of in regards to extended revisions, additional non-agreed to additions to the project, and ever changing expectations.

Luckily so far, much of my client base is from SA and the majority of them have been awesome to work with. But having some new ideas on how to manage the other ignorant or malicious clients is great. Thanks again for the info!

readingatwork
Jan 8, 2009

Probably neither reading nor working.


qirex posted:

It sounds like you dodged a bullet.

Echoing this. Though if you are still going to go foreword at least make your terms clear in an e-mail (make sure you keep all the rights you don't absolutely have to give away ) and get them to send you a reply confirming that they agree to them.

Also watermark the poo poo out of those jpegs and send them in at almost their lowest quality. Don't send them the good stuff until their check clears. Be sure to write up their freakout here after the fact.

Nessa
Dec 15, 2008



readingatwork posted:

Echoing this. Though if you are still going to go foreword at least make your terms clear in an e-mail (make sure you keep all the rights you don't absolutely have to give away ) and get them to send you a reply confirming that they agree to them.

Also watermark the poo poo out of those jpegs and send them in at almost their lowest quality. Don't send them the good stuff until their check clears. Be sure to write up their freakout here after the fact.

I didn't even get a response from them! I just got a notice saying that all the files were taken out of the dropbox they set up for me. It was only 2 pages in there, but a whole bunch more in references, the script and so on.

I had asked the guy if he wanted me to do up the first couple pages as a test run before he wrote up a contract, and got the "we don't really do contracts" response.

Well, at least it wasn't even for a job I applied for. I had a few pages up on ComicArtCommissions.com and sometimes get email responses through there (usually from people who can't read that I'm a colourist). I was just asked my rate and turnaround time, so I thought it was legit at first.

Edit: Hahaha, I finally got an email response back saying that they have "neither the time nor the resources to contact a lawyer to draw up a contract for a 12 page job" (I wasn't even told that it was a 12 page job, I was under the impression that it was a long term, multi-issue gig) and that they "don't want to play this game", so they will be assigning the work to someone else. And then they namedropped all the big artists they've had work for them without a contract.

Nessa fucked around with this message at Jun 5, 2012 around 06:18

Chitin
Apr 29, 2007

It is no sign of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.

This is hilarious because they don't need a lawyer to draw up a contract for a small job. A contract is just a document that states what both parties agree to; they should have a stock one that can be altered.

pipes!
Jul 10, 2001


I think any feelings you're having right now about the lost business are a drop in the bucket compared to any issues that would have arisen from working without a contract. Your stuff getting yanked from the Dropbox folder is also incredibly sketchy. Be sure to be on the lookout for it and Tineye/Google Image Search every three or so months to make sure it's not being used without your permission.

In short:

qirex posted:

It sounds like you dodged a bullet.

Nessa
Dec 15, 2008



pipes! posted:

I think any feelings you're having right now about the lost business are a drop in the bucket compared to any issues that would have arisen from working without a contract. Your stuff getting yanked from the Dropbox folder is also incredibly sketchy. Be sure to be on the lookout for it and Tineye/Google Image Search every three or so months to make sure it's not being used without your permission.

In short:

It was all their files in the Dropbox. I hadn't coloured a thing yet.

I sent a response back saying that a lawyer isn't necessary for a contract and that one could be drafted up as a template in about half an hour. Some of the contracts I've signed have just been typed on a single piece of paper. I mean, so long as the terms and conditions are clear, I don't really care.

Nessa fucked around with this message at Jun 5, 2012 around 16:36

Defenestration
Aug 10, 2006

This title certifies that Defenestration knows something about literature.

Found a neat video on why spec work is bad.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DsstOs-K7gk

Easy to understand for anyone

Authentic You
Mar 4, 2007

Listen now this is your
captain calling:
Your captain is dead.


Defenestration posted:

Found a neat video on why spec work is bad.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DsstOs-K7gk

Easy to understand for anyone

This is great. I especially like the comparisons to other industries. I'd really love to see it posted in SA-Mart or otherwise see SA-Mart raise awareness of the shittiness of design spec work. I've been trying to pick up small projects (since my job is going to poo poo), and I think, 'Hey, I could do a great website banner for that price so let me link my portfolio and.. oh, it's another loving contest..'

I avoid design contests out of principle, which limits the work I can do through SA for goons (and elsewhere online) because most calls for design work are contests rather than the buyer directly soliciting designers and choosing a designer to work with.

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Defenestration
Aug 10, 2006

This title certifies that Defenestration knows something about literature.

Authentic You posted:

This is great. I especially like the comparisons to other industries. I'd really love to see it posted in SA-Mart or otherwise see SA-Mart raise awareness of the shittiness of design spec work. I've been trying to pick up small projects (since my job is going to poo poo), and I think, 'Hey, I could do a great website banner for that price so let me link my portfolio and.. oh, it's another loving contest..'

I avoid design contests out of principle, which limits the work I can do through SA for goons (and elsewhere online) because most calls for design work are contests rather than the buyer directly soliciting designers and choosing a designer to work with.
Pipes, what are your thoughts on some outreach?

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