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LJ and Copyright, Part 2

September 30, 2006

Okay, in my first post about LJ and copyright, I talked about the WIPO Broadcasting Treaty and LJ’s Terms of Service.  In this installment, we’ll be discussing concerns about publishing what you’ve already blogged.

I’m going to quote from the August 2005 issue of Writer’s Digest magazine.

Q:  Does having a story posted on a blog or an online writers’ forum mean that first-time electronic media rights can’t be sold to a publication? Does it mean that you’ve already used your first serial rights, too? What should I tell an editor when submitting a piece I’ve posted on my blog, even if only 50 people have read it? –Adrian Lankford

A:  If you’ve published something online, whether by blog or online writers’ forum, you can’t sell your first electronic media rights elsewhere, says WD legal expert Amy Cook.  It doesn’t matter if 10 million people see it or 50 people see it, it’s still been posted on the Web–other publishers don’t have a chance to be the first to print your work, online or otherwise.

“Technically, publishing online is having the piece published, so you may not be able to sell first rights at all,” Cook says.  “Most contracts require you to warrant that the piece hasn’t been ‘printed or published in any form.'”

As long as you notify an editor, however, you might be able to work something out with a publication.

So that’s scary news!  The thing is, there are whole books that appeared online in blogs first, such as The Broke Diaries by Angela Nissel or Baghdad Burning by riverbend, which was basically the publication of a blog in book form.

Is this the final answer?  Not sure.  I’m going to keep looking into this.  Obviously there are publishers out there who are willing to work out the issue of publication rights, but that’s why anything I write that’s original is now friends-locked.

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