PUBLISHER'S TIP SHEETS
PWAC makes recommendations to members and their clients on a range of professional practices, including fee guidelines for various types of writing and suggestions on assignment terms and copyright. We strongly recommend the use of a standard freelance publication contract or letter of agreement, both of which may be found on this site. If you are not using PWAC's Standard Agreement, then we strongly urge you to issue a letter of agreement. Such an agreement creates a vital "paper trail" that can help resolve disputes that might arise between the freelancer and the client.
A letter of agreement can be issued by either party, but it should include the following:
- A confirmation of the assignment. This can be as detailed as required, but should include at least the following:
- agreed fee and expenses, plus when payment is due
- scope and length of assignment
- rights licensed to the client
- If the assignment is for a publication, freelancers should always include the phrase that they'll be licensing "one-time serial rights in English," unless a different arrangement has been made.
- The client should have the opportunity to give feedback. The confirmation letter should include a phrase such as "unless I hear from you by (give a reasonable date), you agree to the details outlined in this letter."
- The freelancer's invoice should accompany the completed manuscript/assignment. The invoice should always be sent to the client before payment and before the work is published.
- To protect their copyright, writers should include the following phrase on all invoices to magazine and newspaper publishers/editors: "Copyright licence: one-time serial rights in English only. If the article is not published within 12 months of submission, the licence is terminated. All other rights reserved, including syndication and electronic rights."
The issue of copyright ownership is of more concern today than ever before due to the advent of electronic media (CD-ROMs, World Wide Web sites and electronic databases). Professional writers negotiate additional compensation for additional use of their work in electronic form.
Freelancers and purchasers of freelance material need to be aware of how copyright law works in Canada. The Professional Writers Association of Canada Copyright Information Kit also includes a letter of agreement that can be used for most types of freelance writing assignments.