As a freelance writer, it’s important for you to understand rights and usage. The rights you sell to your clients have everything to do with where your writing, and perhaps even your byline, will end up in the future. Rights are always negotiated up front, before you sign on the dotted line.
Here’s a rundown of rights:
First North American Serial Rights or FNASR: This means your client, usually a magazine, newspaper, newsletter or website, only has the right to use your article one time or or one time only. They get first shot at posting your article and it will only appear in one issue. As you can imagine, this is a little more difficult for website writing. Many writers negotiate terms for website by offering content for a certain amount of days or by giving up rights to their content altogether. Also, as the name indicates, the publisher may not publish the article internationally, only in North America.
First Rights: The author can sell the piece internationally for one time usage. “First Rights” indicates the publisher will be the first client to publish your article or story.
Second or Reprint Rights: Second rights means you’re selling previously published material. Usually, this means you’re taking a lower rate since people have read this past before. One of the reasons many writers don’t like to sell all rights to their work is so they can sell it more than once, maximizing their profit.
All Rights: Basically means you’re giving up all rights to your work. You sold it to your client and may never use it or profit from it again. Your byline may still appear, unless you entered into a ghost writing contract. Also, the client can place the content anywhere he wants without permission.
Electronic Rights: This means you’re selling rights to publish on a website, but not an accompanying magazine, newspaper or other print publication. If you want to be able to sell your writing again, you can sell “First Electronic Rights.” However, it’s important to note most content is on the web forever so you’ll have to consider that when negotiating rights and rates.
Generally, an article earns the most money the first time it sells, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be used again. Many journalists have sold the same article several times over. Website owners prefer having their own original content and don’t want their writers selling a piece more than once. If you write for a content site, you’re expected to give up all rights to your content unless otherwise noted. If you’re selling to a private website, make sure you indicate whether or not an article can be used once during a certain period of time, or, sold to many different websites. If you’re selling all rights to your article, you may want to make it worth your while as you can’t profit more than once.