Writers can now afford butter with their Toast
December 18, 2014 2:00 AM Subscribe
Contributors to The Toast are paid a flat, one-time fee of $50 on publication. No further compensation is due, even if The Toast re-publishes the contribution. The Toast also reserves the right to edit at will.MeFi favourite The Toast came under fire on Tuesday, as according to Writer Beware, it turned out they paid their contributors a flat $50 fee for all rights in perpetuity. This is not surprising behaviour for an internet content farm, but what may be surprising was the resolution.
These aren't ideal provisions, but they're not uncommon. What is uncommon: contributors must hand over copyright and waive all moral rights (including the right of attribution).
Writer Beware is a blog run and sponsored by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and the story was quickly picked up by activist writers like Nick Mamatas on Twitter and John Scalzi.
Only a day later The Toast responded:
So, with that said, we’re changing our contracts to ask only for First North American Rights (so rights revert to the writer after 6 months), as well as online serial rights so that we can retain the work on our sites in perpetuity. We’re also writing into the contract the promise that we will revert rights in the case of a book deal, so that what we’ve always done in practice will be spelled out in writing. I feel pretty good about this!With the issue now resolved, there remains the conclusion to be drawn from this, as articulated by Natalie Luhrs: "nice" doesn't pay the bills:
But that’s the thing–it actually doesn’t matter if they’re nice. Nice doesn’t pay the bills. It doesn’t matter how nice they are if their contracts are (were) written like that. Nice is not an excuse or a reason. It is completely orthogonal to the issue at hand. (Also: so is being new to publishing writers and paying them–again: Pavich is an attorney. He has the resources to set up an LLC and handle the business end of things, he has the resources to create a standard contract that doesn’t suck.)
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