Day 92 Reporting – 2,024 Words/Day Process Log – Copyright and Magazines

I don’t see a world where I don’t need to keep expanding my knowledge on copyright. Currently, I’m taking a class through WMG Publishing called Bite Size Copyright. It’s a series of videos on copyright that are typically under 5 minutes long. This means that I can listen to them easily every morning or whatever time of the day I can snatch 5 minutes like lunch.

When I first started thinking about writing about this topic, I was going to stress how important it is for writers who work with small presses to learn copyright. I’ve been in a situation where my work was reprinted simply because the people who were running the magazine didn’t know that they had not secured reprint rights. It was unintentional.

After notifying them of the possible mistake, the magazine made things right and it was all settled. But one thing that I’m reminded of about the situation is that there were other writers whose work had been reprinted who didn’t say anything. I’d hoped they would. I didn’t want to be “that girl.” So, I waited for about a week before I sent the email to the magazine after much anguish and hemming and hawing and many group texts. After all, this magazine and their editors had a whole lot more clout in that particular community than I did.

What if I was wrong and misread the contract and they actually did secure reprint rights?

What if I was seen as being difficult?

Why didn’t someone else who had a better writing resume than me who this affected say something? I’m leaving this last question in here because even though that’s how I really felt at the time, it didn’t make sense. I’m responsible for my career and my work. I don’t know their contracts. Perhaps they licensed non-exclusive reprint rights. That’s none of my business. Keeping control of my copyright, however, is.

Side Note: Different contracts are offered to different writers. It depends on your name, your agent, your relationship with the magazine and various other factors. I didn’t quite understand back then how much a contract varies per author. If I did, I wouldn’t have been stressed out about sending that email. It’s possible that I am the only author who didn’t license reprint rights to the magazine in their contract. Knowing what I know now, it is imperative as an emerging writer to know copyright and negotiate your contract. Best believe if there are certain versions of a contract, you’re getting the worst one.

This kind of thing only hurts the first time, by the way. If I came across this again (which probably wouldn’t happen because most short story contracts will negotiate for non-exclusive reprint rights at the time of securing first rights), I would send the email immediately.

Then there was the case of a friend who sent me a contract to review. I looked at it and there were just too many things that seemed strange. Turns out that the magazine sent them the wrong contract.

Things like that happen because we’re dealing with human beings. Most folks who spend their energy and free time creating literary and genre magazines do not intentionally steal copyright. They just don’t know. And because they don’t know, I have to make sure that I do.

Keep moving forward. Keep getting better.

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Tracking

As of Day 92, – 4/1/24

# of Words I Wrote/# of Words Written To Be on Track/Year Goal

163,378/186,208 / 740,784

About Irette Y Patterson

Irette Y Patterson is a writer of fantasy, science fiction, and romance. She has been published in FIYAH, Strange Horizons, Translunar Travelers Lounge and on the website of The Saturday Evening Post. When not writing, you can find her digging around in her garden or catching the latest musical in the theater.
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