Hello writer's weekly and writers. Thanks for this forum.
Subj: I had an article published without my knowledge or contract.
Eight weeks ago I learned that a UK yoga&natural health magazine, based in london, published my article in their may-june 2004 issue.
They never contacted me before putting it in print.
I never had the chance to discuss contract and rights.
They did include byline and bio.
Background: In feb 2004 I had emailed a query, with article attached, and full contact info.
I never heard back. Then, may 2004, I received an email from the editor, to "Congratulate you on the feature that you did for our May issue."
I was shocked!
Despite repeated requests to please call to talk it over, they refuse to call. When they finally agreed to schedule a phone appt, after 7 weeks of asking, they were a no-show.
Now they don't respond to my emails requesting to reschedule.
My article is a feature article in their current issue on newstands in the UK and US.
Is this a form of piracy?
This magazine is using my work without buying it. It’s on the newstands and they are telling ME how much they'll pay for it. I can’t afford to hire a lawyer. They won’t give me the courtesy of a call. I submitted an invoice and contract which is ignored.
If my only solution is to accept the magazine's low fee (187$ for 1500 word feature story), after they published my work without contract, it seems a sour solution indeed.
It would be unfair to me, their "vendor."
It would keep unfair treatment under wraps, with no public censor on this type of behavior. For instance
1. A publisher could publish writers’ work all the time, without contract or rights and get away with it, and never have a consequence.
2. A publisher could always set lowest fee, after the fact, and never have to negotiate before publication.
I like to look on the bright side and think a terrific editor will read the article and commission me!
But the unprofessional behavior is really distressing, and taking too much time and energy.
I know its not worth the hassle to deal with unprofessional people. But that's like acting like a bully so people tiptoe around you.
They are avoding me although the situation was caused by their Mistake.
They could show cool professional instincts (and make a friend) if they had picked up the phone to say, "We are so Sorry! We made a BIG mistake. Let's put our heads together and resolve this fairly." What a difference that would make.
I recently wrote the National Union of Journalists in the UK. Here is their response,
"When a magazine publishes your work without permission you would have the right to tell them what your fee is. If they did not agree, you would be able to pursue them legally. However, as you live in the United States, the cost of coming to the UK to sue someone is probably much greater than the fee you are seeking" –NUJ
Feedback and advice is much appreciated. Many thanks,