Writers are by nature creative people, but that doesn't mean they can afford to ignore the business aspect of their work. Writing isn't just about producing a wonderful article, an inspiring essay, or a best-selling novel. There are legal issues that writers need to be aware of as well. LoveToKnow Freelance Writing is here to help.
Top Legal Issues for Writers
There are many legal issues that writers should be concerned with when they start their journey as a freelancer. Ignorance of the ins and outs of copyright law and plagiarism, or simply ignoring these laws, can lead to loss of work and even legal liability.
Not only do writers need to know whether titles, names and logos are protected under copyright legislation, but they need to know how long the copyright on their work will last. Since more writers are finding freelance success online, a good understanding of copyright laws and the Internet is essential.
As a writer, you have rights under copyright law to challenge anyone who copies your work without permission. Unfortunately, one of the drawbacks of the internet is how easy it is for others to search online and make use of others' work without proper citation. Setting up Google alerts on your chosen topics can notify you of when this happens, and knowledge of what to do next can be invaluable to protecting your work.
Dealing With Plagiarism
Plagiarism is another issue with which writers need to be familiar. Not only is stealing someone else's work unethical; it is illegal. Plagiarism checkers and specialized software can help to ensure that your work is unique.
It's not unusual to plagiarize without even realizing it. Because writers are voracious readers and researchers, they can absorb a lot of information and wording that "sticks in their head." The best way to avoid plagiarizing others is to make sure you properly cite others' work if you've done any research, even if you feel you've rewritten everything with your own words and thoughts. Giving proper attribution can save you headaches later on.
Follow a Code of Ethics
One of the best ways to protect yourself is to know and live the code of ethics that professional journalists live by. There are several associations that provide information on best practices, and other journalists can provide mentorship and guidance to new writers as well.
Understanding Taxes and Contracts
Part of running your business ethically and legally is understanding how to keep track of your income and expenses to estimate your taxes properly. Having a good contract in place is also an important part of the business and protects both you and your clients.
Understanding Legal Issues for Writers
Educating yourself about these legal issues for writers is just as important as learning about writing styles and dealing with the business of freelance writing. You'll be glad you took the time to handle this part of your business.