This blog introduces you to my special brand of BIKE. I show you how to find your Best self, access your Inner strength, tune in to your Killer instincts, and use your Expressive voice. It's inspiring, spiritual, quirky, and it's all in your head. It's about ATTITUDE, not exercise, though that might be a side benefit.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Make 'em earn your trust

Trust. It's an issue on my mind today as I think about a publication that I once wrote for fairly regularly and now have crossed it off my list. The reason being: lack of trust.

This is a highly regarded magazine. It regularly receives top honors. I thought these people who headed up the magazine were my friends. But the new editor is not a contributor's friend.

My words are my commodity. I sell words to make a living. When I enter into an agreement with an editor or a publisher, I sign a contract and expect both parties to abide by this agreement. For this particular publication, I've never had trouble with them before and never expected to have...until the last few years when they've experienced editorial changes in leadership. These new leaders, apparently, don't respect their contributors very much, as they seem to think what they've purchased to print in the magazine is theirs to use as they like. That's just not true. Copyright is a very delicate and important issue. It's importance becomes even more apparent when it's violated, as I'm learning now.

We, this publication and I, had to deal with this several months ago, when I discovered they'd violated my copyright by printing an article of mine (that they'd purchased for one-time online use) in a different publication altogether, that they had sold it to this publication, without my knowledge, without my agreement, without paying me for this additional use. And they weren't making any effort, that I was aware of, to let me know. I found out by accident.

When I found this out, I called them on it, and they subsequently paid me for their gaffe. But I did have to go into a lengthy explanation about the copyright they had originally purchased, and I had to listen as they tried to convince me they had a right to use the article has they had, which I knew, in fact, they did not. I spoke to one of the editors with the contract in my hand, going over it with him. To top it off, I was stunned to discover they didn't quite get it. But after several conversations, they seemed to understand. I was eventually asked what I'd charge for this second use. So I quoted what I thought was a fair price, and after several accounting issues, I was paid. That was that.

But no, that's not exactly the case.

The copyright issue has come up again, only this time, with different articles. I have recently discovered the magazine has gone digital, and my print stories are now online. In this case, the opposite has occured. These articles were sold to be used in print only, not in digital or online format. Ugh!!! I do understand that publications are, more and more, buying all-rights, and this is making it difficult for writers like me to be able to sell reprints, but at least we know what we're getting into when we sign these contracts. There's no secretiveness involved. But this particular publication, again, had not been doing that when I was writing for them regularly. It seems they're going that way now but forgetting that one minor detail--the contract.

At this point, I'm thoroughly disgusted with the editors on this magazine staff right now. They have proved they do not respect their contributors. They have proved they do not care one whit about rights. They have proved they only care to work at saving a publication that has been losing subscribers for several years now--by going digital, I guess they must think they'll attract more readers. But they're going to lose their writers and perhaps their photographers.

So here comes my BIKE to the rescue.

I am using my Best self to move forward on this issue. I'm also using my Inner strength to hold off from reacting, to work on my response, instead. I'm using my Killer instincts in realizing I have rights, and they once again violated them. And, finally, you can bet I'll be using my Expressive voice to let them know they will not get away with this.

I gave them my trust after our first controntation. I assumed they'd earned it at the time. I believed they had simply made a mistake, as they argued. I believed they should have known better, but I chose to believe their "excuse." The second time, not so much. I am inclined to believe they knew exactly what they were doing the first time and were only trying to get away with as much as they could. Same with this second instance. It's disgusting. They've trashed the reputation of a perfectly good magazine for me. I will no longer be able to see it in the same light. I will no longer subscribe. And I will no longer submit ideas to them. Not that it will matter to them one bit, which is too bad, but it should. And I'm sure I'm not the only writer to feel this way. In fact, I know I'm not. Again, our words are our commodity. It's how we earn our keep.

Bah! This is all so unfortunate.

So I ask you: Has there ever been a time when your personal integrity has been violated in this way, when the trust you too easily gave someone was broken? How did you respond?

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