As can happen sometimes, one of the stories licensed to Black Denim Lit has been re-posted on another website without permission or attribution. The original author contacted us to say that there was no permission at all granted for the other “reprinting site” to reproduce this story. We acted quickly on the author’s behalf to get the post removed.
In this case, there are several reasons why the reprint violated the author’s rights:
- All content on that site was made newly available under Creative Commons license “BY SA” which is insufficient to protect this copyrighted material (from being propagated for profit or being modified)
- The posting of the story was missing the author copyright notice
- It was missing the correct attribution to the author
- It was missing the attribution for the source publication
- The reprint site solicited for financial compensation (a gratuity), implying there was an agreement between the author and the reprint site, which there was not
- The posting listed an email for the original author on the site’s domain, which was not under the actual author’s control. Also this appearance would incorrectly imply to a casual reader that the author is a contributor for them, which he wasn’t.
In the beginning, we at Black Denim Lit were able to acquire the author’s story under paid license for First Rights only. Anyone reprinting without permission from the author is a misappropriation. In other words that act infringes on the author’s control of copyright that were never licensed to anyone.
Specific to us as a magazine, copying the material from Black Denim Lit threatens our ability to assure our authors that their works remain their own and that they have all other copyrights over what they have trusted to our magazine first.
In general, during the story acceptance process I tell authors not to agree to publishing stories without understanding what rights exist over their work and how to grant or license the rights to others. Advocacy sites such as www.pw.org can help. For our part we enforce a terms of service link on the site. Among many simple points of law and common courtesy, it advises site users that they aren’t supposed to be reprinting without written permission.
In the end, I asked that the reprinting site remove the story immediately and they complied within a day, providing an indefensible explanation and tepid apologies. They offered no means for the author to be given any funds that were solicited from the public on his behalf. Lastly, they severed their relationship with us, withdrawing all their articles about “Black Denim Lit,” which is arguably unnecessary, but probably for the best.
It was an unfortunate situation, but copyrights are important and should not be thrown down casually for the sake of exposure or ignorance of what is guaranteed by law to be fair.