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Clarification on First Rights (1 Viewer)

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Terra

Senior Member
Writing has been a 'dream' for most of my life, and it's only been in the last handful of years that I've really put any amount of effort into it other than journaling and writing scads of uncompleted pieces. I made a decision to tie the BJ (my ego) to a chair and tape her mouth shut (love this visual) and just write, even if my efforts are crap to begin with.

The only way to improve my writing skills is to write yes, but I also need to put my writing 'out there'. There are places in WF to submit pieces which are hidden from search engines and such, but what does that mean? If I submit a piece that isn't hidden from a search engine, I lose my first rights ... meaning? What about to other online call for submissions? I'm also submitting a piece to a chicken-soup-type publication in the next couple of weeks ... what happens if what I've written is accepted?

How do I protect myself in the world of writing? Advice please:)
 

Phil Istine

WF Veterans
Writing has been a 'dream' for most of my life, and it's only been in the last handful of years that I've really put any amount of effort into it other than journaling and writing scads of uncompleted pieces. I made a decision to tie the BJ (my ego) to a chair and tape her mouth shut (love this visual) and just write, even if my efforts are crap to begin with.

The only way to improve my writing skills is to write yes, but I also need to put my writing 'out there'. There are places in WF to submit pieces which are hidden from search engines and such, but what does that mean? If I submit a piece that isn't hidden from a search engine, I lose my first rights ... meaning? What about to other online call for submissions? I'm also submitting a piece to a chicken-soup-type publication in the next couple of weeks ... what happens if what I've written is accepted?

How do I protect myself in the world of writing? Advice please:)

All I can do is repeat what you already know - that the workshops are invisible to search engines so your first rights are protected. However, there's nothing to stop a plagiarist from copying and pasting to elsewhere on the internet where such protections might not exist. Of course, such a person would be banned from here if discovered and the publishing world would probably ostracise them, but that doesn't help the person whose work has been stolen.
If you stick to the Workshop areas on WF you should be okay, and if it's a story only submit samples for critique. Once you've completed a story there is an option for beta reading. By the time you get there, hopefully you've figured out who you would trust on here. Of course, if you write poetry, the option isn't really there for only posting samples due to poems being of relatively short length.
Losing first rights tends to mean that the work is regarded as previously published and many (most?) publishing houses wouldn't want the piece(s) - though self publishing might be a route to consider whether or not your first rights have been compromised.

No responsibility taken if I've made any errors in the above.
 

PiP

Staff member
Co-Owner
I believe darkkin, one of our members, had some of her poetry plagiarized at university... so it doesn't happen just on line
 

Pamelyn Casto

WF Veterans
Best of luck with your determination to write more, Terra. You're right that you don't want to lose your first publishing rights by showing your work in public places, places where anyone can read it. It's important that you guard those rights carefully. A lot of this also depends on the editor or publisher you're working with. Some want *nothing*that's already been shown . . . anywhere. Others are more accepting of closed-to-the- public online workshops. Some will consider pieces writers have placed on their blogs; others will not and consider work that's been shown (even on a blog) as ineligible for publication. And then some publishers will consider previously published work. It all depends. WF does have hidden-to-search-engines workshops so be sure to check those out. (Which means the public can't see your work through a search engine.) It makes sense that editors and publishers want fresh (unexposed) work. Some writers bypass the editors and publishers altogether by posting their work wherever they'd like, whenever they'd like (a lot of LinkedIn groups are full of such work) but I suspect not much of it actually gets read. Being a writer often means careful cooperation with editors and publishers.
 

luckyscars

WF Veterans
Writing has been a 'dream' for most of my life, and it's only been in the last handful of years that I've really put any amount of effort into it other than journaling and writing scads of uncompleted pieces. I made a decision to tie the BJ (my ego) to a chair and tape her mouth shut (love this visual) and just write, even if my efforts are crap to begin with.

The only way to improve my writing skills is to write yes, but I also need to put my writing 'out there'. There are places in WF to submit pieces which are hidden from search engines and such, but what does that mean? If I submit a piece that isn't hidden from a search engine, I lose my first rights ... meaning? What about to other online call for submissions? I'm also submitting a piece to a chicken-soup-type publication in the next couple of weeks ... what happens if what I've written is accepted?

How do I protect myself in the world of writing? Advice please:)

The legal definition of 'published' means the piece in question becomes 'publicly available'.

If what you've written is published, be it in paper or online format, you lose the ability to sell first rights.

A loophole with that is if you post it somewhere that the public cannot see it, find it on a search engine, or purchase it -- i.e. a secure area of a private forum -- it escapes the definition because it is not 'publicly available'.

Otherwise, yes, if you submit a piece anywhere, be it a tiny website or big four publisher, and it then gets accepted and printed it is no longer 'first'.
 

Terra

Senior Member
Best of luck with your determination to write more, Terra. You're right that you don't want to lose your first publishing rights by showing your work in public places, places where anyone can read it. It's important that you guard those rights carefully. A lot of this also depends on the editor or publisher you're working with. Some want *nothing*that's already been shown . . . anywhere. Others are more accepting of closed-to-the- public online workshops. Some will consider pieces writers have placed on their blogs; others will not and consider work that's been shown (even on a blog) as ineligible for publication. And then some publishers will consider previously published work. It all depends. WF does have hidden-to-search-engines workshops so be sure to check those out. (Which means the public can't see your work through a search engine.) It makes sense that editors and publishers want fresh (unexposed) work. Some writers bypass the editors and publishers altogether by posting their work wherever they'd like, whenever they'd like (a lot of LinkedIn groups are full of such work) but I suspect not much of it actually gets read. Being a writer often means careful cooperation with editors and publishers.

Thank you to all who replied to my questions ... still can't access the "how to reply with multiple quotes" so clipping on to PC's response.

I have a much better understanding of first rights now, and didn't even consider plagiarism which, as PI and PiP pointed out, can happen regardless.

I'm not close to publication by any means, although before I send anything for the chicken soup sort of book, I will get more information from the woman who approached me to submit a piece.

Another question ... does copyright help or is that a PITA?
 

Kyle R

WF Veterans
There are places in WF to submit pieces which are hidden from search engines and such, but what does that mean?
Meaning: You can post in those places, and they don't count as "published", since they're not visible to the public.

Terra said:
If I submit a piece that isn't hidden from a search engine, I lose my first rights ... meaning?
Meaning: If a piece is available online to the public, it's considered "published". Therefore, first rights are now gone.

"First rights" are what most publishers expect when purchasing/accepting a work for publication. This means they want the right to be the "first" to publish the work.

Terra said:
How do I protect myself in the world of writing?
If you intend to publish a work, don't post it publicly online. You can post it privately (such as the workshop here), and you'll be fine. :encouragement:
 

Phil Istine

WF Veterans
I believe darkkin, one of our members, had some of her poetry plagiarized at university... so it doesn't happen just on line

Indeed, I remember that quite well, because there was a story attached to the incident - but it's hers to tell if she so wishes.
 

TL Murphy

Met3 Member
Staff member
Chief Mentor
Writing has been a 'dream' for most of my life, and it's only been in the last handful of years that I've really put any amount of effort into it other than journaling and writing scads of uncompleted pieces. I made a decision to tie the BJ (my ego) to a chair and tape her mouth shut (love this visual) and just write, even if my efforts are crap to begin with.

The only way to improve my writing skills is to write yes, but I also need to put my writing 'out there'. There are places in WF to submit pieces which are hidden from search engines and such, but what does that mean? If I submit a piece that isn't hidden from a search engine, I lose my first rights ... meaning? What about to other online call for submissions? I'm also submitting a piece to a chicken-soup-type publication in the next couple of weeks ... what happens if what I've written is accepted?

How do I protect myself in the world of writing? Advice please:)

Terra, there is also a difference between a "submission" and a "post". A submission is when you send a piece of writing to a publisher for their consideration. WF has an online magazine called "Flashes" and you can submit work there. But it is not "published": unless they accept it and put it on their online website. A "post" is when you put a piece of writing on one of the Writer's Forums boards. If you post to the Fiction or Poetry Showcase, for instance, anyone online has access to that so it is considered published. But if you post to the Fiction or Poetry Workshops, they are private and only WF members have access, so your work is not visible to internet search engines and is not considered published.
 
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Pamelyn Casto

WF Veterans
To add one little bit to TL Murphy's post . . . Your work is copyrighted, copyright protected, the moment it's committed to writing form. So you don't need to bother with that copyright symbol (in the U.S. a lot of editors claim using that symbol is the sign of someone new to writing). A thief can steal your work anytime (and they will) but at least you have legal recourse if you desire to go through the expense of a lawsuit.
 

clark

Met3 Member
Staff member
Chief Mentor
Terra -- a little-known (I find) parameter of "copyright" (in Canada, at any rate, and I'm pretty sure elsewhere) is "oral" copyright. Let's say you give a talk or lecture pretty well anywhere on any topic. Someone in the audience clicks on a recorder and later uses your words . . .simply uses them in any way without your permission or knowledge. Perhaps they use a chunk of your talk in one of their own, or incorporate your words into something they write, with no acknowledgment of you as original "oral author." That is plagiarism, and if they accrued some tangible benefit, even partially, from your words, you could sue them.

From a different perspective--and this next point gets murky--some publishers would regard your talk, if you later worked it in whole or significant part into a written document, as "previously published" by virtue of being presented orally to an audience. Who knew, eh?

Safe rule: if you think you might want to submit a piece to a journal for consideration . . .post it in the Workshop, as other forum members have already advised you.
 

Pamelyn Casto

WF Veterans
Related to what Clark brings up is self-plagiarism. I was asked to write an essay on flash fiction (I'd written quite a bit on the topic already). But the publisher requesting my new essay had me sign a contract stating that I wouldn't plagiarize myself. I had to be really careful to word things differently in the new essay. I'd never really considered self-plagiarism before. (But in thinking about it, it does make sense. The publishers want to protect themselves and want to provide new material.)
 

vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
Here's the practical answer:

Is it important? Is notice of the work likely to promote prestige or become profitable?

If yes, spend $45 and register it with the copyright office. Then, if you are plagiarized, and the plagiarization accrues income, you can sue to collect damages.

EVERYONE'S work activates copyright on first publication in any public manner. If you are submitting the work to any online entity which date and time stamps your submission, your proof of copyright is essentially absolute. Keep track of where you post it.

If you're just playing around and aren't serious about publishing for profit or prestige, but just crave any notice, don't sweat it. Anyone who plagiarizes isn't capable of individual creativity. You are. Your next work will most likely be better than your last. The plagiarist is already done, and when found out, will be banned.
 

Terra

Senior Member
I sent an email to the lady who is seeking submissions for a chicken-soup-type book entitled, Through My Eyes, Stories of Survival, Strength and the Power of Believing, asking for clarification on some of same questions I posed in this thread. This is her reply:

The story is yours to tell and share and you retain rights to your story. There is no contract between us and there is no fee for your story. I absorb the cost of getting the book edited and published stage. You get the benefit of having a piece published in an anthology and can add that to your writing career. I am aiming to get it published by spring of 2021. All contributing writers will be kept in the loop as we progress. The book will be available on Amazon and as well we will promote on FB. It is exhilarating to show people your story in a book for sure. I have been published in two Chicken Soup for the Soul books and it is exciting.

While I have stories to tell that would fit quite well with the theme of her collection, I've decided not to submit anything because those stories are a hefty part of My story in a book I've been working on this year. It IS exciting to consider being published in any way, shape or form, but being impulsive and going about it in a helter-skelter way could easily backfire in my face.

I'm so glad I asked for feedback here. The information helped me make an informed decision, and my gut tells me it's the right one. TA!!
 

Sir-KP

Senior Member
If you're unsure, you can always do the classic way of 'timestamping'. Print your work at least three times, then mail each of them to your own address. :p

Anyway, I completely understand your feeling about plagiarism. As a frail newbie to writing myself, there are stories that I would absolutely hate to get plagiarized.

I agree with "plagiarist isn't capable of individual creativity", that's correct. And with that plagiarism comes in wide range of style from outright copying except the names (noob plagiarists) - to grasping the root to make what essentially the same craft (skilled plagiarists).

At this point, it's pointless to worry about them. They're like flies and cockroaches; they just appear. Just take precautionary actions and make people know that this work of yours exists.
 

vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
If you're unsure, you can always do the classic way of 'timestamping'. Print your work at least three times, then mail each of them to your own address. :p

Anyway, I completely understand your feeling about plagiarism. As a frail newbie to writing myself, there are stories that I would absolutely hate to get plagiarized.

I agree with "plagiarist isn't capable of individual creativity", that's correct. And with that plagiarism comes in wide range of style from outright copying except the names (noob plagiarists) - to grasping the root to make what essentially the same craft (skilled plagiarists).

At this point, it's pointless to worry about them. They're like flies and cockroaches; they just appear. Just take precautionary actions and make people know that this work of yours exists.

I don't wish to be argumentative, but the old "mail it to yourself" advice is a common and long-held fallacy. It has no legal standing whatsoever. One reason is people could mail themselves an empty, unsealed envelope, then fill it and seal it at any time.

100% onboard with the rest of the comment, especially since you quoted me. LOL
 
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