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Thread: Is this a reasonable copyright agreement?

  1. #1
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    Is this a reasonable copyright agreement?

    I've always been into writing fiction, but have never done anything seriously about it. But recently I decided to give it more of a go (I didn't have to buy a typewriter, isn't progress wonderful? ) I googled about a bit, and decided to check out shortbreadstories.co.uk. It's a site where you can upload short stories you've written and read stuff by other members. It looked nice, has regular competitons, so I decided to join. I signed up, uploaded a couple of short-short stories I'd written in the past, then read the Terms & Conditions (duh! Yeah I know, wrong way round).

    A section of the T&Cs deals with copyright.

    4. For a period of two years from the date of this letter (the “Exclusivity Period”), the licence set out in Clause 1 is granted by you to us on an exclusive basis and, during the Exclusivity Period, you will not yourself do, nor shall you permit or suffer anyone else to do, any of the activities in respect of the Story which we are permitted to do. After expiry of the Exclusivity Period, we may continue to use, make available to the public and/or have broadcast any sound recordings or text versions of the Story made by us during the Exclusivity Period. If we confirm to you that we do not intend to publish the Story then this Clause 4 shall not apply.
    I'm interested to know: is this reasonable, considering the site is for wannabes? Or should I put on my rms hat and quoth "Nevermore!"
    "All people are scum. No matter what they look like." ~ Spider Jerusalem, Transmetropolitan #4
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  2. #2
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    Re: Is this a reasonable copyright agreement?

    I have no experience in this area but it seems to me that you are granting them perpetual (I can use big words, as well) - everlasting exemption from copyright. Exclusive exemption from copyright for two years but continual exemption from copyright forever after. Furthermore, it grants them virtual copyright over broadcast recordings, sound recordings, and text versions of your work that they have made during the first two years.

    What do they say about royalties? Are they prepared to give you royalties during either of these two periods? Is there a clause that allows either of the parties to renegotiate the agreement?

    In my opinion (my Lord) a reasonable agreement would end after two years with an option for them to negotiate a deal for their continued commercial use of your intellectual property based upon accounts records of the profits made from your intellectual property.

    Regards.
    Last edited by grahammechanical; April 18th, 2013 at 03:04 PM.
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  3. #3
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    Re: Is this a reasonable copyright agreement?

    Generally speaking, magazines won't be interested in buying any short stories that have been published before, especially online for free - since there's a pretty good chance that a lot of their audience will have read it already. I would say that should be more a concern than this site's Ts&Cs.

    It really comes down to: do you think that whatever service they provide will be worth giving them work for free?
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    Re: Is this a reasonable copyright agreement?

    Quote Originally Posted by t0p View Post
    I'm interested to know: is this reasonable, considering the site is for wannabes?
    It is an all encompassing grab for all rights that might generate revenue at any point in time.

    I wouldn't touch it, because it grants them all economic rights, with no royalty payments.

    jonathon
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    Imploring you for your kindness.

  5. #5
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    Re: Is this a reasonable copyright agreement?

    If you just want a kick out of some anonymous persons reading your stories, then it's irrelevant. If you hope to someday make money off your stories, then don't publish them for free anywhere. Keep hacking at it till someone buys it.

    (PS, I'm writing this from the context of someone who has been published.)

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    Re: Is this a reasonable copyright agreement?

    Is it reasonable? I would say it's nonsensical, immoral, and even stupid of them to expect such a scott-free, royalty-free exclusivity of your writings, for essentially forever. (Especially when other sites out there don't have such a ridiculous catch to them.) Show 'em birds from both hands and never look back on that site.

    If you enjoy posting stories online for other people to read and critique, while still fully owning them, I'd check out FictionPress; it's a sister branch of another fiction site I've been too. Their terms of service is infinitely more reasonable.

    http://www.fictionpress.com/

    Quote Originally Posted by pinballwizard View Post
    If you just want a kick out of some anonymous persons reading your stories, then it's irrelevant. If you hope to someday make money off your stories, then don't publish them for free anywhere. Keep hacking at it till someone buys it.

    (PS, I'm writing this from the context of someone who has been published.)
    Second'd, that's great advice, and it's nice to see some insight from a published author. ^^ I don't think any publisher would be half as interested if the story was already out there for free.

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    Re: Is this a reasonable copyright agreement?

    Wow. Personally, I'd stay away from it if your writings are anything you care about. It could be useful for small things that you don't care about publishing, just to get your name out there.
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    Re: Is this a reasonable copyright agreement?

    They claim to offer 'mentoring', so it might be worth it if you don't think your writing is up to the standards of publication. That's really up to you, though - I'd say that you'd be better off finding a local writing class or writing group, generally speaking.
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    Re: Is this a reasonable copyright agreement?

    Thanks to everyone who replied. I think I'm gonna go with the general consensus and not use shortbread.

    I don't really expect to make any real money from my writing, it's generally for my own enjoyment. But I do want other people to read it and give me their opinion/advice, and as I use the internet so much I think one of these kind of sites is a good idea. I enrolled in a writing class at the local college several years ago and it was not what I wanted. So, I will give another site/sites a go. I will check out FictionPress as suggested by johnluke728.

    I don't expect to make money from my writing, but if I ever finished my novel (I bet loads of people have "a novel" they've been working on for years) and actually got published, I would be very unhappy about someone else being able to make money from my earlier stuff without express permission (and royalties, if appropriate). That's why the copyright thing is important to me.

    As for publishers not being interested in work that's been published before: Irvine Welsh got a collection of previously-published short stories published on the back of his success with Trainspotting... and I think Trainspotting includes parts that were published before as short stories. I know that the internet rather changes the playing field, but the principle is the same - I want control of my own work. That's a perfectly acceptable standpoint. But if I don't show my work to other people, I'll get no constructive criticism.

    Anyway, thanks to all!
    "All people are scum. No matter what they look like." ~ Spider Jerusalem, Transmetropolitan #4
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  10. #10
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    Re: Is this a reasonable copyright agreement?

    Nobody should ever get exclusive rights to your work without an exchange of money.

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