This is a question about an ongoing negotiation, so I'm only posting the question as a hypothetical.
Let's say a blog network wants to hire you to contribute to an already established blog. They compensate you by giving you a share of the revenue generated by advertising placed on your posts. Your share can range from 75-100%. For simplicity sake, let's just say it is 100%.
You know that about 10% of the really excellent posts on this blog can earn as much as $15-30 per month. But the other 90% of the posts probably earn less than $1 a month (if that). The blog is constantly growing so you have expectations that the revenue will increase over time.
In addition to the revenue sharing, you get to join a fairly established blog (it is a top 10 blog in its field), and the blog network provides tech support, hosting, ad sales, marketing, etc.
Now you are negotiating with the network about who owns the copyright. There are some possibilities:
Option 1 You own all the copyright. You are free to resell your content or take away your content at anytime.
Option 2 The network asks for exclusive Internet rights, which means they are the only ones who can publish your work online.
You still own the non-Internet rights, like the right to publish the book offline, make it into a movie, etc.
Option 3 The network owns non-exclusive rights to your work, which means they can publish your work anywhere (online or offline) but you are allowed to sell your work anywhere else as well (of course, other buyers will pay you less because they cannot have exclusive right to the content).
Option 4 The network owns exclusive rights to your work for a period of time (a year maybe) and after that period they only own non-exclusive rights.
Option 5 The network owns all rights. You cannot resell your content anywhere.
Of course option 1 is the most appealing from the blogger's point of view.
However, considering the benefits of joining this blog, would you consider any of the other options? Which options would you find reasonably acceptable and which options are definite deal breakers for you?
If you have other suggestions on how the rights can be fairly divided, please feel free to share.
I write freelance for wisegeek.com sometimes, and their only option is that they own copyright to whatever I write for them. At first, it seemed like a big deal, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the chances of me ever wanting to publish a 500 word essay about palletizing machines elsewhere was about zero.
I get paid for my work, and if they really want to publish "Chicken Soup for the Palletizer's Soul" and I don't get any money out of it, I think I can live with that
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Well, what it comes down to is this: How confident are you that you can sell your content for profit in other places?
If you definitely feel it can and will sell on other websites AND in print media, then option 1 is your best bet.
If you feel other websites won't pay, but book/magazine/newspapers will, then option 2.
If you're PRETTY sure you can sell elsewhere, online and off, but not 100%, you can hedge your bets with option 3. You lose immediate profit, but gain possible venues later.
If you're patient, and your material is timeproof- still relevant and timely a year from now to interested buyers- then option 4 is good for you.
If your work is, shall we say, pigeonholed to a particular time or audience and wouldn't survive a transition to another venue or time, then go with option 5.
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MightyCow: Hey, I've read quite a few excellent articles on Wisegeek. Nice work.
Sacrip: Thanks for that breakdown. It is a very useful way of thinking about the problem. I think option 2 is fairly realistic.
Dagonee: Great analysis Dagonee. Publishing a book off a compilation of the best posts on a blog is probably a goal that many bloggers have (including this one).
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