Last night I was setting up to publish a couple of articles on Triond. Well, one of these articles got rejected. Why? It seems it had already been published someplace else. Now I thought “Gee, this is odd – since I haven’t tried to publish this article yet”. But yet there it was, already published on Associated Content. Triond checks all incoming submissions for being original and not published elsewhere. If it is, they give you the link to where the content is published. And this is actually a good thing if your stuff gets taken out from under you unknowingly.
So, I bring up a new window in my browser, then copy and paste the link provided me. Lo and behold, there is my article….but under someone else’s name. I click on the headline to read the article, and find that – yes, this is my work word for word. Not one thing was changed from the original which still sits on my computer hard drive. The whole thing wouldn’t have been too bad if it had not been for the fact that I was commisioned to write that article by a “company” back in February of this year. The article was never paid for; so I guessed that it was either rejected or the rights reverted back to me. Either way, it was still my work. I figured that I’d write the author and ask them how they came to possess the article in quesiton. I also explained to the author about being commissioned for the piece, but never paid for it. I also explained that I was not calling her a thief, nor the person who caused me not to recieve payment.
Anyway, I decided to look up the other articles “written” by this author since there was a partial list of her work, as well as the option to ‘View All’ of her work. And then believe it or not, I find two more pieces I had written for the “company” back in February. Now those two articles had been paid for; so in reality they were no longer mine. But, the one thing I know about Associated Content is that they will not tolerate someone buying work and posting it as their own. So I wondered if they knew about this. I had decided that I would write AC and let them know about this. Yes, I know some people would call it sour grapes and all. But putting up content as your own, on a site that expressly forbids buying content and then posting it, after you bought it from somewhere……I’m sorry, that’s just plain wrong – and to me, extremely lazy.
So now I’m waiting to see what goes on here with that.
But anyhow, for those of you reading this – watch where your words go. If you go onto a site where you bid on jobs, such as any of the freelancing sites out there, there will be people out there looking to steal work away from it’s producers.
So, here’s a few things to watch for.
1. If you are contracted for an article – do not assume that it isn’t going under someone else’s name.
2. If you submit an article for payment – keep records of when and where it went to.
3. Keep all emails for those whom you write for; AND, keep those emails for a few months after you complete the assignment (especially if something goes wrong).
4. Keep track of all incoming payments – if one is missed politely inquire about it in a reasonable manner and time. Don’t let it pass as a missed payment.
5. If an article goes unpaid, find out why. Was it rejected? Is payment simply late? Watch if they seem to give you stock answers about how often payments are made and how they must wait for their clients.
6. If you can, sign up to Triond or one of the PPV sites like that. Then submit any unpaid or rejected work for publication. The reasoning for this is that the article should NOT show up as posted someplace else. If it does, there’s your stolen work.
7. Find a way to get Copyscape. This is not only a good way to make sure your work is considered original, but it also will tell you if your work is out there under someone else.
8. Realize that your words, once they leave your hands, can land just about anywhere out there on the Internet today. Be mindfull of the fact that you probably have no control over that.
9. If you are going to do any work for free, make sure you at least get credit for the piece.
If you really want to keep most of the control over where and how your words are used. Stick to the sites where you write under a bi-line or community setting (ie – Helium, Suite 101, Associated Content, Triond, etc.) If you don’t care, or are into mostly SEO or copywriting work, get paid for it. There are some people out there who form up a “company”, find work for hire, and then try to farm it out to writers either for free or next to free. You will know these types when you get burned by one or two.
Writing is not a bad thing. Writing is not an extremely difficult thing. But as with any service oriented endevor, there is unfortunately a business side to things. And there are those who know how to manipulate the business side of writers; or at least think they can.
Be proud to be a writer – but be careful of where your words will go.