Should I Assign Copyright For Online Blog?
I'm a health professional and have the opportunity to write for an online publication, a monthly column/blog.
This is my first writing experience. I would not be paid for this and have been asked to assign copyright to the publisher. As a novice, is this a good move?
First of all, congratulations to you! You are taking an important step in solidifying yourself as an expert in your health-related field.
Secondly, thank you for asking this question. It's one that many writers -- both novice and professional -- struggle with at some point in their careers. The answer, as you probably surmise, isn't clear-cut, as there are many factors to consider.
To begin, ask yourself why you are considering taking advantage of this opportunity. Is it because you want experience writing? Is it because you want to move into the world of advice-giving? Or is it just to help others? If you simply want to write in order to test your mettle and assist others with health-related problems, perhaps a copyright isn't important to you. However, if you're looking to parlay your column/blog into something bigger, you may want to pursue a different copyright arrangement.
For instance, you could always agree to give the online publication limited rights to your work, allowing you to publish the same postings at a later date either for another publication or on your own site. This gives you some flexibility and maintains ultimate control with you.
Of course, if the online publication has a standard copyright agreement, they may be hesitant to give you any leeway in terms of negotiation. The one point that you have in your favour, though, is the fact that you're writing for free. Therefore, they might be more open to allowing you to retain all rights to your material in exchange for your expertise. Regardless of what you decide, you need to get the arrangement in writing; having a verbal agreement only may result in problems later.
Copyright laws are definitely foggy territory for bloggers and online writers. But there's one thing that's crystal clear -- if you're not happy with your arrangement, whatever it may be, you shouldn't accept the position. If you feel a nagging sense that you're "giving away" your words or that you are being taken advantage of, you won't be able to give your column your heart and soul. So proceed wisely and knowledgeably.
Thanks again for your question and good luck with your endeavours!