How freelance writers can protect their copyright — and why it matters - Deepstash
How freelance writers can protect their copyright — and why it matters

How freelance writers can protect their copyright — and why it matters

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The importance of copyright

The importance of copyright

Content created in one medium can spark a variety of spinoffs. For example, "Hustlers" (2019), "Blue Crush" (2002), and "Fast and the Furious" (2001) are all movies inspired by articles first published in the New York Magazine, Outside, and Vibe. The right to turn those articles into films and who gets paid for it stems from the copyright.

You don't need to keep the rights to everything you produce. Still, understanding copyright and developing best practices can allow you to revisit your work in podcasts, books, and other media.


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What "Copyright" means

  • Copyright protects the creator of an original work of art, such as images, visuals, literary works and any other type of expression.
  • Copyright doesn't protect ideas but how the ideas are expressed - for example, text choices, visual decisions, or movement choices can have copyright protection.
  • Copyright automatically belongs to the creator unless otherwise specified by a contract.
  • Copyright also covers how the work can be displayed, reproduced, and distributed, including any work derivative.
  • Creators tend to build an Intellectual Property Portfolio of copyrights of all their works.


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Why brands/clients want your copyright

The copyright of any work produced automatically belongs to its creator. Clients, brands, magazines need permission from the creator to use the work, but they tend to hold more power and leverage and typically look out for their own best interests.

The copyright section in a contract is often transferred to the employer in exchange for what they are going to pay you.


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Ways to protect your copyright

There are two strategies to protect your IP Portfolio:

  • License your work. Instead of signing over the copyright, a creator can license the use of their works for a set time (2 years, 5 years, etc.) The client can still use the work, but the right to the work will remain with the creator, allowing them to continue gaining from their work after the license expires.
  • Limit the use of your work to a specific medium. For example, stating in the contract that an article can only be published in a digital format.


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