Andrea participated in an online writing workshop.
One of her stories was selected for publication.
The contract presented gave the workshop full
rights to her story. She was told all profits from
publication would go to a particular charity.
Andrea signed the contract.
The hard copy was published and there was
Andrea’s story. A screen writer read her story
and liked it. He could would easily morph it
into a number of episodes in the television
series he wrote for.
He contacted the site owners, was assured
they had the rights to the work, and bought
He rewrote the story slightly, putting the
dialogue into the mouths of the set characters,
tweaking the action to match his vision, etc.
Anita, watching her favourite programme on
television, sees her story.
She contacts the Website, is told that they sold
the rights to the screenwriter, and contributed
the money to the charity.
Andrea is upset, but informed her name did
appear on the opening credits as:
‘From a story by Andrea’,
in tiny little letters.
Andrea has no case.
She ‘sold’ the rights to the website which then
sold them to the writer. The writer gave her
So the fact Andrea can’t pay her light bill but the
website is hailed as this great charitable organ-
isation for donating so many thousands to their
pet project, is perfectly legal.
When you are offered a contract, as was Andrea,
in which you give up all rights to your work, unless
you are well paid, do not sign it.
Do not participate in competitions, workshops, whatever
they are called, which demand you relinquish your rights.
Always imagine how you would feel if a person or cause
you do not believe in gains the rights to your work and
does what it pleases with it.
Or a famous screenwriter pads his bank balance with
a story you wrote, and you don’t even get an offer to
write an episode on your own.