Stand up, stand up for your rights

Apart from the obvious advantages of insisting on copyright, I have found that editors tend to click their heels and salute and say "Yes, Sir!" if you put that "C" in a circle at the end.

One editor I will not embarrass them by naming them - said over the phone "Uh... I see you've reserved copyright."

"Yes." I replied.

A long silence followed.

"We don't normally have that arrangement."

"You don't normally have that arrangement," I repeated.

"Oh... uh, alright then."

The piece came out with the copyright © symbol in front of my byline, and those who saw it (including some other editors) were impressed that I - as a relative nonentity - had managed to retain copyright in such a prestigious publication. It was only then I realised that the conversation above may have happened because the editor wasn't totally sure what the copyright symbol meant, and wasn't totally confident in their knowledge of its implications for our contractual relationship, but didn't want to admit that they should have known better.

In my brief experience, putting the copyright symbol and your name at the end of your copy - especially if you are relatively new to freelancing - shows that you're deadly serious, that you're not desperate to get into print (even if you are). People will respect you more if you routinely assert your copyright.

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Last modified: 25 February 2004 - © 2004 contributors
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