Imagine for a moment you have been working hard on your writing all morning.
You stomach is empty and your eyes are aching.
You step out for a break at the local coffee shop.
You have thirty five dollars in your wallet. You can almost taste the confections displayed in the glass case and you can smell the fresh coffee brewing on the bar.
Suddenly a threatening stranger demands that you turn the contents of your wallet over to him.
Would you quietly do as you are told only to go hungry and watch as he spends your money on a stack of tasty snacks?
Web content mills demand that freelance writers hand over their Intellectual Property, their copyrights, for free.
When a writer signs either electronically or on paper a “Writer’s Agreement” or similar so-called “contract” agreeing to submit work acting as an independent contractor or freelancer and that agreement includes a clause that requires that the writer upon submission release all copyright interests he has in his work regardless of subsequent approval and payment he falls prey to the content mill’s copyright high-jacking scam.
He routinely works with clients on an independent contractor basis.
Mark decided to work on a particular client’s project without a written agreement or contract stating the terms of the association.
The client later refused to pay Mark for his work.
The client then began to freely use Mark’s work claiming (1) there was no written or verbal contract for services and no “course of dealing understanding” between them and (2) and that based on the lack of any formal agreement Mark retained no copyright ownership interest or rights in the work he contributed to the project.
Mark feels the client not only ripped off his creative input and artwork but he seems to have been able to misappropriate the copyright interest in his work. Mark has proof his client is using his artwork.
Creative agencies are increasingly shrinking the number of in-house or staff creatives and opting to rely on freelancers to perform a multitude of tasks from pitching ideas to sustaining an advertising campaign.
The sluggish economy has stressed many agencies causing those employers to suffer difficulties in covering the cost of maintaining staff employees.
It costs a lot these days to maintain a regular employee on staff (payroll taxes, healthcare, insurance, etc.).
Outsourcing of Freelance Work on the Rise
Some employers hoping to pinch a few nickels have turned to hiring freelancers and specifically designating them workers under agreement or “independent contractors” to function as part-time, intermittent and offsite workers that in truth provide the majority of the agency’s day to day creative needs.
Unfortunately, these employers wrongly conclude that simply claiming an employee is an independent contractor even if he is supplying regular, ongoing and predictable company tasks will relieve an employer of his responsibilities to State and federal taxation authorities.
It will not, and worse, this action could be considered intentional tax fraud.
If they could only see and hear the state and federal agency tax-collecting accountants slowly pursing their lemon-sucking lips into a shape that only slightly resembles a smile. “Penny wise and pound foolish,” they’d sneer in response, “Do these people think we were born yesterday on what? Audit that company.”
Copyright Ownership & Transfer, Employees and Independent Contractors