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Ski magazines' may be without writers this year.

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
Interesting article in yesterdays newspaper. Seems like SKI and SKIING mags want to "own" work published in the mags rather than the author owning the work.

Interested in hearing from all the authors out there.
post #2 of 30
the key here is the last paragraph of the story.

"hey, you don't like the arrangement? NEXT!"

thanks, Kima. good one. will keep track.
post #3 of 30
wow. that's bad.
thanks for the heads up.
post #4 of 30
One of the things that has always made up for generally poor pay, and unpredictable sales for most writers - is that the one person in the world you can plagerize legally is yourself. I have many times re-written, re-used pieces of, or re-used entire pieces. Writers are not stupid about this, we want to keep editors happy - so if something recycled at all it is in a totally non-overlapping market. Maybe you sell an article on "Spring Skiing" to a small town magazine in Colorado, then next spring re-write it to fit a town in Vermont.

The thing I have the most backups of (on CD's, Tapes, Disks . . . around the U.S.) - is everything I've written in my life. I'm certainly no "big-fish" writer, but to me those hundreds of megabytes of sold and unsold writings are my lifes work . . . a diary of sorts, and even if in fact it would not hold much financial value, it is the most valuable thing I own.

I want my daughter to be able to look back at all those old stories if she ever wants to - and do whatever she wants with them.

So besides being a financial threat, the idea of doing writing and then not owning it is very personal. This is a terrible trend for the industry, lets hope the big businesses don't get their way in this.
post #5 of 30
Thread Starter 
Todd my question is what can we do to support you and others? skinet.com has a contact us section on the web page. Or perhaps a letter to the Boulder Corp Offices would be better?

I do not want to start anything here, but seems terribly unfair. As a skier and occasional purchaser of their mags would they be interested to hear any feedback?
post #6 of 30
ANY letter to an editor is NOT a waste of time. and a couple will get attention. a reasonably intelligent editor knows/assumes that a few speaking voices generally mean there are few who are thinkin' the same thing, just not talking about it. WELL-WRITTEN letters tend to get read twice. every little bit helps.

you might include, as i will, the fact that you DO frequent a fairly lively and intelligent "forum" such as this. word-of-mouth, since the web, moves significantly faster and reaches a lot of "ears."
post #7 of 30
The only author I will miss is Bill Kerig.
post #8 of 30
Interesting. Corporate mammon kinda like the companies that claim to own anything invented by their employees?

Reminds me in a way of academic journal publishing in that I as an author have to arrange for permission to revamp my own work in order to made it (presumably) a chapter of a book. I see this all the time, that chapter x previous appeared as y in journal z. I doubt they force the authors to pay for this permission (haven't asked yet, so I don't know), but that would bit because the only payment I got from my article was 50 off-prints of it, while permissions for the two photos I used probably set me back somewhere around $100. Hmm...


Dante non ha mai immaginato questo cerchio dell'inferno!
post #9 of 30
I think we should let our voices be heard.

editors@skiingmag.com is for skiing magazine
abigford@skimag.com is for ski magazine.

My concerns have been sent....

<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by dchan (edited August 17, 2001).]</FONT>
post #10 of 30
Sorry to hear the last few big magazines are turning on freelancers, but I think this is just a sign of the changing media environment. We all have to face it that advertising dollars are gradually drying up for traditional paper magazines, as cost conscious management teams realize that the power of the internet is available to them at a fraction of the overhead they have had to endure in the past. I hope some of the better writers that are writing things the public REALLY wants to read are busy devising ways to reach a reading public over the internet, and still will be able to make a living.
post #11 of 30
When this hit the fan, SAM mag. sent out a email headline in which many editors including Andy Bigford and others stated their sympathy and "between the lines" allignment with their writers.
The editors are as stressed by this like the writers and are caught in between.
post #12 of 30
Sorry to ask an obvious question, but what are the concerns for those of us who are neither writers or publishers? Freelance writers won a big decision in the Supreme Court on this issue not that long ago. The mag. publishers are responding in a logical and legal way, and writers are free to accept or reject contracts offered to them which would assign coptyrights to the publishers. Writers who accept such terms will adjust their price (upwards) to account for loss of the rights; those who choose to hang onto the rights to their stories will take less. How am I as a skier affected by the writer's decision to accept or reject such a contract?
post #13 of 30
Understandable, when you place it in the context of control and dollars.

The ski mags have not done enough to preserve participation and growth in the sport. They knucle under to the big advertisiers, the guys that write the big checks, because if they are making money, there not making most of it on subscriber rates or from the magazine racks. It is the advetises that drive policy, because they are the life blood of survival i.e. "cash flow."

Out of frustration of not being in control of their own destiney, they want to control something, pure and simple, and thus the onerous contracts for contributers.

That's why everything they write about or evaluate, that is also advertised, we as readers must evaluate using the "grain of salt" method.
post #14 of 30
an obvious thing I see is if for instance, BobB writes an article and creates a graphic for it (as he has done for his book as well as us on this forum) the publisher now owns the article and graphic. he can no longer allow us to see it unless we purchase that magazine/publication even though he created it/wrote it. If it serves to help us understand what he is talking about Bob can no longer use it without violating the copyright. The affect it has on us the skiing inquiring public is it takes away yet another resource. I understand the authors might just raise their prices to account for the "loss in revenue" but now that particular piece of work that "belongs" to the author is no longer a viable piece of work for him/her anymore. If as it was stated that there is a "locked time" from when the publisher prints to the release of the "contract" then after the contract ends, the author could for print it for someone else or even post it on this web site as Bob B has done so graciously in the past.
This would be true of pictures, images, etc.
post #15 of 30
I'm sure there are other good writers out there, but what will the rates for a story be when the throatcutting begins? And how deep is the skisavvy writing community? Does anyone else remember the uninspiring entries of John Falkiner in Powder (and elsewhere?) a few years back? Here's a teacher, an adventurer, a "world class" skier who (even with editors) could not transfer his passion into passionprose. Finally, what has the Web/Net have to do with it? Are we going to have computer generated articles?
post #16 of 30
The idea that an institution owns the intelectual property and/or product created by its employees or sub-contractors is standard in the IT industry. We have people creating software all the time and they do not own it and cannot reproduce it for others - legally. However, nobody complains because the compensation is appropriate. Contractors in the software industry make $60-100/hour routinely.

Therefore, if magazines expect to own the articles created by freelance writers then I expect that magazines will have to compensate the writers accordingly. If free market supply-demand laws work properly, then it will happen. After all, I cannot see how freelance writers can survive with low pay and loss of ownership of the published work. Eventually there will be nobody writing articles and magazines will have to hire full-time writers (which will be very costly for a seasonal business).

In any case, it is sad that magazines want to break the backs of the people that give them the reason to be in business.
post #17 of 30
If the publishers paid by-the-hour fees to writers, provided their insurances, covered their research and material production costs, in other words, if they EMPLOYED the writers, it makes sense they'd own what the writers turned out on the publishers' time.

What this policy is going to result in is a reduced supply of voices providing thought, information and pleasure to the subscribers. I predict further reductions in the magazine business. Maybe there'll be a "new" subscription internet market???

The real shame is the loss of outlets for writers to sell to.
post #18 of 30
Depends on who is writing and about what...most of the travelogues are literary tripe...they are so in bed with resorts...I have had to lug too many around the mountain on fam tours. Just like the ski rankings...so what exactly are we going to miss? Just more space for ads.
post #19 of 30
As a photojournalist for 35 years I have followed and taken part in this "who owns the copyright" fight...National Geographic writers and photographers, as well as the ones at Time magazine and others went to court about re-publication rights and compensation, won in some cases, lost inothers.

NG put all their magazines on a set of CDs and their argument was "how far back to we have to compensate writers? To the 18hundreds?)" while Time/Life put out CDs of photos for sale as an image pool which can be used in advertising, etc.... Many before, and most articles now are provided by freelance writers and photographers. It is cheaper than keeping them on staff and paying insurance and medical for them and their families.

The courts basically held that if the writer did "Work-for-hire" then the copyright belongs to the publication. Anytime the publication assigns a writer to write about a particular subject or place, it is work for hire. It is not woork for hire if a finished article is offered to the publication on a "one-time publicaton rights" or "First publication rights only" basis.

My paper allows me to own the copyright to any images which weren't used in the paper and gave the copyright back to me on images which were used after two years...

I am now in the process to give the prints back to the people pictured via a web site I created just last week.If you are interested, it is at:


post #20 of 30
I have to think that an arrangement like Ott explains makes the most sense. I understand some publishers even had shorter than 2 years. more like 2 months for some types of images. I agree with the "work for hire" part and articles created and sold to the publishers could and should have a limited "copyright" time so that there is no "undue competition" for revenue while the publication is on the news stand and for a reasonable time afterwards.
post #21 of 30
Freelance writers are not employees, they are free agents. Right now they are in the drivers' seat. Unless they voluntarily contract away their rights, they own the rights to their creations. Some will choose to give up those rights, but of course will be smart enough to get something back for them. And others who want to publish the same story/graphic in multiple media will not. Its up to them. What a country!

So why are the SKi/Skiing frellancers crying? Well,they're in negotiations with the publisher right now and the negotiations aren't going as well as they might like. Prediction: they'll sell their rights for more money. and if they don't, I'll look forward to reading their stuff in Powder!

Two articles I've really enjoyed in the Sept ski mags--the article on skiing the Coast Mtns of BC in Powder and the article about Whiteface Mtn in Skiing (the author of that one took the bobsled run while pregnant!--every bit as crazy as the Morrison and McConkey antics in the Coast Range).
post #22 of 30
JW, don't you wonder why the mags want to own the copyright? Why would they want to pay more money now since an article published in a magazine wouldn't be touched by another competing magazine with a ten foot pole, and should the writer be so foolish as to submit the same article to two or more competing publications at the same time without telling them, and God forbid it should be published by two of them in the same month, that writer may as well change professions because he will be blacklisted for life.

So what's the advantage of owning the copyright vs. one-time publication rights?

Besides, do you know how little they pay for an article? Ask Todd.

post #23 of 30
EpicSki, the Magazine!!!!
post #24 of 30
Well, we have some of the best ski instructors in North America, some boot fitters, ski techs, a Fitness instructor, a physical therapist, an historian to give people perspective.... Oboe nd Pinhead, you guys may be on to somethng!<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Lisamarie (edited August 19, 2001).]</FONT>
post #25 of 30
Just got back into town from weekend travel, this turned into a big topic! Very good information!

Questions about pay: well it varys wildly I'm sure everybody else here who has written knows. But in general, a big name writer might be able to negotiate 5 figures for a lead feature story . . . in a big magazine. But in general its more like hundreds instead of thousands for article writing. And if its like a monthly local paper or small magazine, you might be taking more like $50-$100 for an article (that when reselling is important) In that low range, if you've only spent two hours total on the article - thats not too bad of pay if you only cyle it once. But if you've actually put real time and research into an article, being able to at least resell revisions of it becomes important to making a profit. As far as book publishing? Bob B's turf not mine!

I found a good information source on this to be this recent article:

I would guess that writers don't a chance against the kind of firepower big money companies like AOL/Time Warner bring to legal battles. But writers also are used to dealing with media - and maybe collectively can scare up enough trouble to win. Who knows? It will be interesting to watch how this unfolds.
post #26 of 30
Gee, as I understand it, the legal battle is over (can't go further than the US Supremes!!), and the good guys won. Hey, its Miller Time! The authors can hold their rights or sell 'em. Its just a negotiation over $$ at this point.

Hey Ott, good to read your post. How's the summer going? Why do the publishers want the rights? I'm guessing of course, but my bet is that in-house Legal just sent memos to the publishing brass explaining that things didn't work out as they'd hoped in the Supremes; and that, if they don't bargain for an assignment of the author's rights in the contract, they are at risk of seeing part or all of that nice article they just published on Whiteface Mtn appear in the Travel section of the Sunday Philadelphia Inquirer. Now as a subscriber to all 3 national skiing magazines, I guarentee you that if I start seeing Ski articles re-appear in the local paper or here on Epicski, I'm dumping my subscription. Buying an article without the rights, that would be nuts, in light of the recent Supreme Court decision.

I can think of at least one other reason why the mag. publishers might want to take assignments of rights to articles about ski resorts/mountains--to compile them for a where to ski book. (Don't really think the gear articles, or the gee-whiz stunt skiing articles lend themselves to this--too short shelf lives on that stuff). So if I am a writer of ski travel stuff, I'm angling for a royalty on re-prints. <FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by JW (edited August 19, 2001).]</FONT>
post #27 of 30
Does anyone know if TPS has the same policy?
post #28 of 30
like Ott mentioned, there can be limitations of how long there is a "black out" on the use of an article. If you had to wait 3 months to read the article and that would put you "out of season" for the article I don't think there would be too much problem. Also writers I think should get royalties for additional reprints while the publisher has the "rights" to the article for how ever many times it article is "run"
post #29 of 30
Here's something for instructor/writers to think about. There is a website for fitness trainers called Personal Training on the Net. http://www.ptonthenet.com

Its a paid membership website, which contains over 400 research articles, as well as exercies with video demonstrations. Trainers can make a file of various exercises and email them to their clients.

This could work really well for skiing, giving people more than what they can get in a magazine. For resorts, you can do mini videos. Ski instuctors, for a fee can design skill related files to send out to their students. You can even have the students send you a video of themselves,and you can comment on them.

Just a few wild thoughts.
post #30 of 30
Maybe we should all kick in a few bucks to buy the rights to these ski magazine classics, to ensure that they are never again published or reprinted:

Working Girls, The oldest ski town profession.....SNG, 1/00
Waren Miller's Ode to Stretch Pants, Ski 2/01
The World's Sexiest Skiers, Ski 2/01
The Man Who Won Womens' Gold, Ski 3/01
One Bourbon, One Cliff Drop, One Beer, SNG 3/01
The Pick Up Guide, SNG 3/01

Come to think of it, last year's Feb and March issues of Ski and Skiing had to be the nadir of ski writing. Hope they aren't wasting too much time fighting over the rights to this stuff.
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