Why I won't be recapping Glee this season (and why you should care)
I was all set to recap Glee again this season for AfterElton.com/AfterEllen.com. And then the massive corporation that owns the sites, Viacom, sent me a little love note via the subsidiary that’s managing their freelancers, letting me know that, if I wanted to continue to contribute to the sites as I have for the last 7 years, I’ll have to sell them my soul.
Okay, they didn’t actually ask for my soul. They did, however and in so many words, ask for my thoughts and ideas, throughout the universe and for all eternity.
In case you believe I’m exaggerating or engaging in hyperbole, I’m not.
I have posted the “rights grab” clause in the contract they sent me at the end of this entry, but it essentially states that anything I do in the line of creating articles for them, including my notes, ideas, suggestions, processes, stories, “whether or not reduced to writing or other tangible media,” created before, during, or after I’m writing the article for them, “whether or not actually used by Company on or in connection with the Site,” belongs entirely to them.
Not, as with everyone else I write for or have ever written for, for a period of time (usually 90 days), but “irrevocably, exclusively and perpetually all rights of every kind in and to the Material and any and all of Artist’s right, title and interest in the Site and any other works now or hereafter created containing any of the Material. … in perpetuity throughout the universe in all media and all forms and all formats, and/or any methods of delivery, in any and all media now existing or hereafter devised.”
So, you may not care about my ethical stance on this obscene rights grab, and/or may not like my recaps and be glad someone else will be doing them. That’s fine. I’m a big girl, and I was definitely not writing for AE/AE for the money, since they pay approximately 10 percent of what I make for the other publications I write for. I did it for fun, and because I think we need to examine what popular culture says about us as members of the LGBT community. It was a labor of love.
But if you care about reading things people have written, and want artists, writers, and other creators to be able to make even a small living producing creative works, then you should care, and care a lot, about large corporations leveraging their publishing power to force their contributors to sign contracts like this.
As a freelance writer, rather than a staff writer who gets a salary and benefits, you simply cannot survive if every idea or note or thought you have about something you’re writing for a publisher belongs to them in every usage for all eternity. I routinely turn interviews into multiple articles, go to conferences and write about what I saw or learned there for years.
I blog — including here — about “outtakes” from my articles on AE/AE. I come up with ideas all the time while I’m writing articles, which I then turn into other articles. This is how I make my living. Without that freedom, without my own thoughts, without the flexibility of the kind of freelance contracts I’ve been writing under now for my entire career, I could never have made a life as a writer.
And young writers, who are forced to go along with these disgusting agreements because they need to be published and need the money, are going to be increasingly disempowered, robbed, violated, and marginalized.
Furthermore, established, proven writers and journalists, photographers and artists, will no longer write for sites like AE/AE, because we don’t have to sell our souls to pay the bills — and who would sell their soul if they didn’t have to?
All of which will have a profound chilling effect on the quality of the work you are going to be seeing out of any publication that forces its writers into these kinds of contracts.
On a personal note, I’m truly heartbroken to be leaving AfterElton.com and AfterEllen.com. I care for and respect many of my fellow writers there, I want to write about popular culture and LGBT issues, and I definitely wanted to recap Glee for them this season. I am really sad, and full of resentment at Viacom for forcing me to this point.
5 Famous Online Copyright Crusaders Who Are Total Hypocrites
Shortly after the Vice.com story broke, the congressman’s team had his website taken down, just like a dirty, copyright-infringing criminal would deserve, according to Smith’s own proposed legislation.
“Take my own picture? Of trees? You’re mad, sir.”
"Piracy-stricken" Viacom CEO tops pay-raise charts
By Cory Doctorow at 9:09 am Tuesday, Nov 8
Philippe P. Dauman, CEO of Viacom, led the executive compensation raise chart this year with a $50.5 million raise that brought his total annual compensation up to $84.5 (much of the 148.6% raise came in the form of stock options). Meanwhile, Viacom continues to argue that it is in danger of capsizing unless radical changes are made, starting withtaking away the right to privately share videos of our personal lives on YouTube.