So how do you think Bill got that rich?

MICROSOFT, whose founder epitomises entrepreneurship, doesn't make it easy for freelances to follow that lead and profit from their own creations.

An internal memo from Microsoft headquarters to editors at Sidewalk, MS's about-to-be-launched series of city Web-sites. It seems the company has six contracts, ranging from work-made-for-hire to somewhat limited rights. A page on the contracts' rights clauses explains each and tells editors how to negotiate with freelances:

"Pick the right contract with this simple rule: Start with #1 All Rights and work up to #6 Time and/or Product Limited... Use #1 for majority of Sidewalk contributors, especially writers and illustrators, and always for content that gives Sidewalk a strategic advantage... Use #2 if contributor wants print rights to their work and we have no interest in exclusive print rights... Use #4 if contributor insists that MS use content only in specific product(s), if there is little likelihood that MS will use content in other MS products and if content has little syndication value...."

The contracts differ chiefly in how much latitude the writer has to enjoy the pleasure of competing against Mr. Gates in marketing. Astute writer-entrepreneurs will decline the opportunity.

Freelances about to write for any Microsoft "product" - also including Slate, the travel site Mungo Park, Microsoft Investor, Microsoft Money and Financial Life -- are invited to ask ASJA (care of the Freelance) for further details.

BY Dan Carlinsky

ASJA, New York

May/Jun 1997

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