What to do about a "stolen" article?

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Leworthy

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I'm hoping someone with a little more experience as a writer (and maybe some legal know-how) can explain my options to me.

About two and a half years ago, I came across a large, professional magazine that accepted submissions without query. They paid fairly well ($600 - $750 AUD), so I wrote something I thought was in their wheelhouse and sent it off with a quick email.

Their site is quite clear about freelancer payment rates, and says that freelancers will be contacted to sign over copyright to the article in question. No one ever contacted me, so I assumed the story was rejected and the editor was too busy to get back to me. Not my happiest hour, but all absolutely fine.

Flash forward two and a half years - and I find out that they published it in February 2018 (a year and a half after my original submission).

So, they published my work without notifying me, getting copyright permission (do they need this?), and - crucially, from my perspective - without paying me!

I am not listing the publication here (yet), because I'm still willing to believe this is a simple error. I have emailed the editor and the publisher over the weekend, and am still waiting to hear back. I have said if they're simply willing to pay me what their guidelines suggest, I will be happy to sign over copyright and draw a line under it.

As the hours tick by, however, I am beginning to question whether or not I am being ignored...

Can anyone tell me what the hell I can do next? It galls me that this article has been published without my knowledge and I've been stiffed out of hundreds of dollars!

Sorry for the rant, looking forward to any help you may be able to offer. Oh, an additional fact: I am in the UK and this is an Australian magazine - not sure on the legal situation there.

Thanks
 

mrsmig

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Others will probably come along shortly with cogent advice, but I have to ask: did they give you a byline or other credit in the magazine? If not, you may have a real problem. If they did credit you, I'd like to think publishing it without contacting you (and without paying you) was simply an oversight. A gross one, yes, and one that should be rectified immediately, but an oversight.
 

Leworthy

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Amazingly, the magazine responded while I was writing that post!

Apparently the editor I originally submitted the piece left the company (which checks out - her email is returning an error message) and they've asked for an invoice.

So assuming this pans out, no further advice is needed! Thanks anyway.

If it doesn't pan out, obviously I will be naming and shaming!
 

mrsmig

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Leworthy

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Thanks for the reply mrsmig - see my last post.

Yes, they did give me a byline. That was the thing that made me think it was an error in the first place - it didn't look like theft.

Assuming they are willing to correct the mistake (they seem to be) I am happy to let it drop. No one is perfect!
 

mccardey

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Sorry, we can't give legal advi-oh.... :Sun:
 

CameronJohnston

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Wait...a happy ending to one of these things? That's unexpected :) I'm betting the document was sitting in a folder and during the changeover they thought the editor in question had already sorted all of that including payment.
 

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