On Usage Terms


So a few of you know that I’ve got a Skillshare class on contract writing for creatives. It’s a short series of lectures the ins-and-outs on contracts, writing a scope of work, and what’s most helpful in these documents. Recently I’ve been getting more questions on usage terms and I wan’t to define them here for anyone who isn’t already in my class. Terms you say? Yes, ze legalese. Jargon. Let’s dig in. Afterwards, there is a spelling bee. (Not really.) But, if you want to learn more, then sign up for my Skillshare class! On discount, even! 30 coupons available for 50% off. Limited availability, so get on it STAT. Code is: MONEY.

Moral rights:
The ability to have rights to your work in the manner you choose. Comes from the Visual Rights Act (1990) that states you can claim authorship, prevents the use of someone else’s name on your work, right to prevent your name being on works of yours that have been modified in a way you don’t like, right to prevent anything that would prejudice your name/reputation, right to prevent derivative works.

Derivative work:
Anything that is a rip-off of your work. What constitutes a derivative work varies by situation, what sort of rights and terms are applied to the usage license of the work in question, and by country. Wikipedia actually has a great explanation of what constitutes a derivative work.

First rights:
This a general term for the most commonly used form of rights. When someone is referring to “rights” it is shorthand for first rights. However, “first” means that it’s the first time it has been published. Be careful of the distinction if you are a photographer, illustrator, or a writer and ever want to sell that piece of work elsewhere in the future.

One-time rights:
Good for writers, photographers, and illustrators. Means the person gets to use your work just one time. A non-exclusive, one time right would mean you can sell rights of the image to multiple magazines at one time, for example (ie- it is “not exclusive” to that magazine). Be mindful of competing companies, a news outlet would not love having the same front page image or story as someone else.

Second rights
= aka reprint rights. A book could have different rights on a re-printed edition. Also, if the work has already been licensed to someone else, then you must disclose this to the client/potential buyer. Typically 2nd rights pieces are sold for less because they’ve already been “used” one or more times. Often original publisher will also want to be credited as well.

Electronic rights:
If you’re ever making work for an electronic medium, make sure to specify the what type of electronic medium the work will be, or can be, used in. App, ePub, website, etc. A one-time non-exclusive internet use, would mean then that your article can be published once on that website, only on that website, and you retain the rights to sell that work to another source if you want.

All rights
= you can never sell that piece again, though you do keep your ownership of it. This is a more expensive type of rights use, so charge accordingly.

Work for hire
Muy importante!! If you are signing a contract with a work for hire mention, it means you’re signing away all rights AND copyright to your work. They don’t have to include your name at all in the final product. They get to edit, alter, reprint, resell your material. Be aware that you could be liable for copyright infringement if you publish another piece that too closely resembles your own “work for hire” piece. Sometimes these also come with non-disclosure or non-compete agreements. Typically design firms contracts have of these things if you are working onsite with them, but increasingly magazines and other publishers are including it as well. Know what you’re signing up for and take it case by case.

This is also called buyout or full buy out = same thing as selling “all rights”.

Force Majeure:
Latin for “superior force”. Protects both you and the client from being liable if a big events like cancer, death, accident, war, earthquakes, etc happens. Something that is out of your control and may infringe on either party’s ability to turn the work around.

And there you have it! Now go forth and make that cheese. Don’t forget the discount code is: MONEY as in, make some, for yo self.

– Margot

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