Is Payment Made For Re-Use Or Not?

In my reports in this newsletter on the case of Tasini v. The New York Times, I’ve stated that in my opinion the outcome of this case will determine whether a publisher can re-use photos (or text) for electronic use (digital delivery) without paying an extra fee. Re-use fees, of course, have historically been the norm in the stock photo industry. Along came the Internet, and somehow, many publishers assumed that they didn’t have to pay additional fees when they used a photo (from a previous one-time usage purchase or previous freelance assignment) on their website, in online databases, on CD-ROMs, etc.


The original trial court judgment of the Tasini case held that electronic publication of a freelancer’s work was a permissible “revision.” A three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals unanimously overturned that ruling in September 1999, and held that The Times and other publishers (Newsday, Time Incorporated, and Lexis-Nexis) were infringing freelancers’ copyrights by posting writing and photos on-line without permission from freelancers. The Appeals Court also refused to re-hear a counter appeal by The New York Times et al. The publishers then asked (and got) the Supreme Court to hear the case. As yet, no date has been set for the hearing of the appeal.



The Copyright Law (Title 17 of the USC [United States Code], Sections 201-205) allows the creator of a work (photo, writing, painting, song, etc.) to control and license that work for economic gain. All rights belong to the original creator, unless the creator has signed a written agreement ceding a particular right or rights. In other words, a client can’t contract with a photographer to use a photo (or series of photos) for the purpose of publishing them in a magazine or book, for one-time publishing rights, and then turn around and re-use those same pictures on their website without offering the photographer additional compensation. This applies to photos licensed to the client for one-time usage in the past, as well as future photos.

Note: The law is always open to interpretation. You can expect to hear different shadings of the above, by the attorneys for the publishers, in this case.



Either side stands to lose big on this case, if they’re the ones the Court rules against. Freelancers would lose not only on payments for photos unlawfully re-used in past years, but also in future re-uses. Publishers could conceivably be held liable for past and current copyright infringement.

Most photographer and writer organizations have expressed confidence that they will see a positive outcome for this case. They predict that freelancers, who will now have been thwarted in their attempts to instate their re-use rights for electronically published photos, will prevail. -RE


July 2001

Ed. Note: As it turns out, photographers and writers prevailed.

The question was, “Do print and electronic publishers violate the copyrights of freelance authors (and photographers) when they include the freelancers’ already-published articles in computer databases without the author’s permission?

Yes. In a 7-2 opinion delivered by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Court held that section 201(c) does not authorize the copying at issue. “The publishers are not sheltered by [section 201(c)], we conclude, because the databases reproduce and distribute articles standing alone and not in context, not ‘as part of that particular collective work’ to which the author contributed, ‘as part of…any revision’ thereof, or ‘as part of…any later collective work in the same series.’ Both the print publishers and the electronic publishers, we rule, have infringed the copyrights of the freelance authors,” wrote Justice Ginsburg.


Attorney Joel L. Hecker lectures and writes extensively on issues of concern to the photography industry. His office is located at Russo & Burke, 600 Third Ave, New York NY 10016. Phone: 1 212 557-9600. E-mail: [email protected]

Freelance Copywriting Rates: Getting Paid What You Deserve

Freelance copywriting jobs can mean fast business and a nice chunk of change, even for the beginner freelance copywriters. Of course, this is if the newbie understands ways to strategically charge for their freelance copywriting services. Setting a rate is often sticky and tricky, especially for beginners, because you don’t want to be forced to turn folks away and certainly want to get what you’re worth.

Why You Must Charge at Least $50 an Hour

Before we even begin, this is 2011. Do not work for less than $50 an hour. If you plan to, keep your day job and stop freelancing, because it’s pointless, unless you are doing this just because you like the challenge and you don’t need the money.

Seriously, if you don’t think your copywriting talent is worth $50 an hour, wait until it is, then start your business. More than likely, if some little bird told you that copywriting is what you should be doing, then you are already worth $50. What “little bird” do I mean: You have proof that you get this copywriting thing and have proof on some level that you’ve got what it takes because a client told you, or you have repeat business from a client, or because you asked and were told your work product brought in business. The bottom line is, anything less than $50.00 is insulting.

You also have to consider that there will be factors relating to running your business and getting your projects completed that will take time and incur expenses, like marketing your business, administrative work and minor outlays that will eat into your $50 an hour. That $50 when it’s all said and done, may end up really amounting to $25 to $35 an hour.

DON’T start out by undercutting yourself. Word gets around, and it will be harder for you to raise your fees later. Equally important: It’s not about your price; it’s about your value!

Please note: This is not the same as working pro bono to get experience when you have absolutely nothing to use to demonstrate your copywriting skills.

Flat Fees

For straightforward, run-of-mill projects, you can set a flat fee. A flat fee does not change. Charge a flat fee for example, when a client asks you to revise a flyer or create a sales letter and provides you with pretty much everything you will need to complete the job; or when you are asked to critique a web page or write a blog post, etc., for which you don’t have to do much research, and they are clear as to exactly what they want.

However, when you are uncertain as to the time it will take you to finish your client’s project due to uncertainty about the client’s objectives or you expect a series of delays and rewrites on their part, charge an hourly rate. Also, tell your client there is a minimum for which they will have to pay. In other words, you tell them, for instance, the minimum is four hours even if it only takes you an hour. This is not uncommon in business. Just make sure you are clear, up front and honest. And put it in writing!

When you set your copywriting rates, consider and apply the following important steps:

1. Justifying Your Copywriting Rates

People see the end result in their mind and don’t take into account all of the labor that goes into reaching that powerful result. Show your client the value they are getting for the money they are spending by detailing the individual tasks you have to perform in order to complete the assignment from the beginning of the project to the very end. Note the interviews, file organization, telephone calls, creating rough drafts, conferences, researching their competitors, reviewing background data and other material, editing, proofreading, redrafting, travel time, etc. Incidentally, this specific information should appear on their invoice, as well.

2. The Type of Copywriting Services or Type of Project Can Influence Price

The type of copywriting project you work on can shape your copywriting rates. A blog post, white papers, Facebook wall entries, brochures, newsletter articles, press releases, YouTube and PowerPoint scripts, radio ads, case studies, print advertising copywriting will require different types of preparation, the research methods and writing styles. Other necessary components that add value to your copywriting services, e.g., using HTML or designing a piece for search engine optimization mean you can charge more.

3. Subject Matter Can Affect Copywriting Rates

The topic will also shape your copywriting rates. A blog post written on a general topic, for example, may be charged at a lower rate than a blog post focused on a specialized idea. If your background is in a specialized field such as law, medicine, fitness, non-profit, bio tech, finance, botany and you have esoteric knowledge that a general copywriters don’t have, that adds value to your service and thus your price should be higher. Additionally, the more technical, involved and complex the writing is, the higher your rate can and should be.

Use the Following Price Ranges as a Gauge for Flat Fee Billing

Articles used as web content:
$50 to $500 for a 500-word article Press releases
$100 to $600 Sales letters
$200 to $2,000 per letter Flyers
$50 to 300 Case Studies
$500 to $1,000 Print Advertisement
$500 to $2000 Web pages
$100 to $500 per page Brochures
$50 to $300 per panel

Use the Following as a Gauge for Billing Hourly

Beginner $50 – $75.00/hour ($100 for specialized background)
Mid-level $100-$200/hour ($250 for specialized background)
Veteran Freelance Copywriters $250-$450/hour (unlimited for specialized background)

If projects are ongoing, you can charge a lower copywriting rate than you would for an assignment where you are hired on one-time basis.

As you can see, there are many factors that account for the rate charged by freelance copywriters, so think hard and take everything into consideration before blurting out a price that you’ll be stuck and unhappy with.

Living Off of the Grid – Five Vital Necessities

Living off of the grid may sound like a nightmare to individuals that have been surrounded by four walls, but for many people, this is a dream that they have been waiting on for their entire life. Living off of the grid means that it is just a person and their family, and all of the sights and sounds that they want. Before taking the plunge to embark on this drastic lifestyle change, here are some important things to consider.

A home

Travelling the country sounds fun, but not when nights consist of sleeping on the backseat of a car. Instead, individuals are encouraged to consider something along the lines of a caravan. A used one can be purchased a little bit on the cheaper side, and this will provide plenty of space to sleep at night. A larger motorhome may be more suitable for larger families with children. Individuals should keep in mind that these require money to maintain, much like a house does.


Going off the grid is the new dream, but it does still require a bit of money for things like food and toilet paper. Families are encouraged to look into their current finances, eliminate the bills that are currently caused by living in a house, like the trash bill, and then add in the costs of living on the road, like gas and site fees. This should provide a nice estimate on monthly costs.

Start-up costs will include things like purchasing solar panels, battery powered accessories and so on. This can easily cost thousands, but it is well worth it in the long run.

Technology allows individuals to live wherever they would like to and still work full time. Freelance writers can work anywhere that they have access to Wi-Fi. Individuals that are still working a boring 9-5 job may want to look into this possibility to make their dreams come true.


Having a source of power is vital to making a living. It can mean that laptops are charged and ready to go in the morning for work, and for school. Some families may choose to plug into shore power as often as possible, while others prefer an alternative energy solution, like solar energy, to keep them powered up when they are on the go.

Solar energy remains one of the most popular choices for caravan owners. Installing solar panels will provide families with an endless supply of power, and can make living off of the grid that much easier. Instead of families being forced to make their remaining battery power last as long as possible, they will be able to wake up and enjoy the simple things in life, like using the microwave and curling their hair when they opt for solar energy.


A caravan provides a small amount of space when compared to a full house, and that means that there will be less room for everything, including clothes and shoes. Before moving in to one full time, it is best to find a caravan first. Then, families can see how much space they will have, and begin to downsize accordingly. Often, caravans only have enough room for necessities and a few luxuries.

An Address

Before setting up life in a caravan, it is important to consider what permanent address will be used for things like car insurance. Those that are contemplating this lifestyle are encouraged to consider their future plans, and whether or not they require a permanent address. For example, most banks will not give a loan to an individual without a permanent address. Often, individuals that are living the dream are able to use a friend or family member’s address. A mail box number can be used for correspondence, if necessary.

Living this lifestyle full time is a dream for many, and it is closer to their reach than most would think. Once a new home is purchased and fitted with a few solar panels for energy, it is all about the freedom of the road and living life to the fullest.