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Make sure your freelancer contract is air-tight.

In response to the article, "How to hire independent contractors" (NL/NL 7/15/00), which summarized National Institute of Business Management editorial director Annette Licitra's advice, Robin Cardwell, director of business development at London-based Marketletter (Publications) Ltd., wrote us:

"Thanks for the interesting article on freelancers. This makes a lot of sense, but there is an area that needs careful attention. We recently had some expensive litigation, when a foreign freelancer we have used for years dropped us in the mire.

"Out of the blue, an international publishing group accused us of plagiarism, a fact we strongly denied. We were then given unanswerable proof that this was true. The stories in question were written by this particular freelancer. You need to make it very clear in the contract that the freelancer will be held responsible for any such acts. There was a good article in a NEPA newsletter a year or so ago."

That Hotline article (5/17/99), by Tom Hagy, pointed out that editorial directors "find it wise to have a lawyer review the agreements and that all duties are spelled out. No surprises."

In the NL/NL piece, Annette Licitra also said it is imperative to have a contract.

"Key elements: Rights, including worldwide copyright in all media. Liability [which should cover the plagiarism charge that Robin Cardwell faced].... Rules governing the contract. Signatures, dates, and contractor's Social Security number."

In addition, specify who owns the contractor's work. Otherwise, the person who creates the work generally will hold the copyright.
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Publication:The Newsletter on Newsletters
Date:Aug 31, 2000
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