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Could use some advice. Options
Aleita-34941
Posted: Sunday, September 18, 2016 12:29:55 PM

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Joined: 1/21/2014
Posts: -1
Hello all,

This has nothing to do with Zerys, but I need help determining what I should do. I have written articles for a local print magazine for about a year and a half, including a steady stream of web articles. They are ALWAYS slow to pay and still owe me some money. I think the publisher is sucking the company dry and they're probably going under soon.

A couple of months ago I wrote a really good piece about "city living" that I know I could sell to someone else. Even though they conceived the idea and asked me to write it, I doubt it will ever be published and I want to pitch it elsewhere. Since I haven't been paid and it's not published, can I consider it my intellectual property and sell it? 

Frankly, I am fed up with these people and never liked the editor anyway. I don't plan on writing for them again but I don't want to burn any bridges.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. 

Thanks!

Aleita
Darcie-17660
Posted: Sunday, September 18, 2016 5:46:18 PM

Rank: Advanced Member
Groups: Member

Joined: 3/5/2013
Posts: -5
Have you signed any type of contract with them? I'd check the fine print on everything. If you can't find anything to determine who owns your work, I'd send them a letter letting them know that if you haven't received payment for the article by whatever date, you'll consider it your property and have a buyer for it elsewhere.
Nancy M-49020
Posted: Sunday, September 18, 2016 10:35:10 PM

Rank: Advanced Member
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Joined: 1/7/2015
Posts: 70
Location: Los Angeles
Did you submit it and they haven't paid? What I've done in the past is write to someone and give them a deadline - 5 working days say - to pay or otherwise I would assume they have no intention of buying it, and I would be retaining ownership. They may have come up with the the "idea" but they don't own your written words until they pay for it. Do you have a contract with them? I have those terms spelled out in the contract I use for my clients. That's not to beat you up for it if you don't, but you might want to think about doing one for the future. There are tons of examples on line. You can find an attorney who will probably answer your question for free - or ask on Avvo. Good luck!
Kayla-70194
Posted: Monday, September 19, 2016 9:08:31 AM

Rank: Newbie
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Joined: 6/23/2016
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Location: Tennessee
I would love to hear what everyone else has to say about this, but I would personally give them one last chance to pay what they owe you. If they didn't do so promptly, I would go ahead and sell it to someone else. You don't owe that to them, but I think that would prevent the "burning of bridges." If you had an hourly job and they stopped paying you, you wouldn't come back and continue to work for nothing. I see no reason to work for them for nothing. I think they forfeited any rights to their idea for this article when they chose not to pay you for previous work.
Aleita-34941
Posted: Tuesday, September 20, 2016 9:28:49 AM

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Joined: 1/21/2014
Posts: -1
Thank you so much for the feedback! Funny thing is, the publisher called me the day after I posted this. He is always very apologetic and a nice guy, but I told him I would need prepayment going forward, which he said he can do for web articles, and pay 50% up front for print articles. They get the majority of their money from advertising, so I understand that part.

However, I also talked to the web editor I've worked with (who I love), and they still owe her $900. I think that's really crappy. The publisher kind of threw her under the bus saying, "I didn't know the volume of articles J was having people write and publish, that's why we got behind." I ain't buying it, and it's become more of an ethical conundrum because it's just not right to not pay someone for the work they've done. The paltry amount they were paying her for the amount of work she was doing is outrageous. Meanwhile the print editor is kind of a jerk and doesn't seem to do much.  

I know I shouldn't consider other people part of the equation, but if he treats someone who has worked for him for five years this way, I feel like I don't even want to be associated with him. There is a positive side: I enjoy the work, and it's good for building my local business. I'm still confused!


Nancy M-49020
Posted: Wednesday, September 21, 2016 2:53:32 PM

Rank: Advanced Member
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Joined: 1/7/2015
Posts: 70
Location: Los Angeles
I try not to work with people whose ethics I have a problem with. That said, it's much like not knowing what truly goes on in someone else's relationship. I'd have a contract in place to make sure I was protected. Small claims court is an option I've used in the past, but I'm mostly set up now to avoid people who don't pay their bills. I do the same as you seem to have done here - payment or a healthy advance before I start working.
Colin-73866
Posted: Monday, February 6, 2017 9:59:20 AM

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Joined: 10/11/2016
Posts: 5
Location: South Africa
I thought I'd chip in on this as mercantile was one of the subjects I studied, albeit many years ago. 

For a contact (whether it be written, verbal or implied) to be valid, all the terms of the contract must be adhered to. Non-payment is a breach of contract. Of course this can be tricky - what is reasonable time period to wait for payment? If there is no set agreement to when you're supposed to be paid, the default time (in most countries) is 3 months. This means if you haven't been paid with in 3 months after submitting your work, this can be deemed as breach of contract. 

It's always best to notify the client in writing of your intentions, if they don't respond, then they'll have can have no legal to your work as you've met all your obligations. 
Eleanore-66344
Posted: Monday, April 3, 2017 12:22:32 PM

Rank: Newbie
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Joined: 2/2/2016
Posts: 2
I always provide terms of service that includes a writing timeline and terms of payment clearly outlined. 
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