I research, report and write stuff. Whoever commissioned it publishes it, or uses it in whatever way we planned. I get paid. Keep it light, keep it moving, everyone’s happy.

The legal bit is straightforward.

  • I own what I write.
  • I give permission to the commissioning organisation to do with it what we agreed—a licence.
  • If the possibility of another use comes up, we discuss it. We agree a plan, and if there’s money in it, we agree who should have what.

It’s all harmonious, professional and pretty obvious. I don’t try to sell what I’ve written to someone else. And neither does the commissioner.

I seem relaxed about this, because basically I am. It’s not a problem.

However, for the sake of clarity, I’m including this here.

I do not assign all rights. I only license for particular uses. I own what I produce.

Of course, there are times when large organisations get their lawyers to write stuff that seems to make it look as though I’ve assigned all rights. I take a pragmatic approach to this. I appear to go along with it for the sake of a quiet life. But quietly, I insist on my legal position as described above. I think their insistence has no legal validity because it is manifestly unfair, bullying and an abuse of their power.

So if it comes to a legal dispute (which is very unlikely, because no one wants a retread of a feature of mine), I will insist that the above is operative.  I will say you hired me, you had a chance to read this. Unfair practices are invalid and inoperative.

Thank you for understanding.

PJ White
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