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Content, Writing and Copyright Forum

Paying for content.

 3:27 pm on Feb 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

I regretably don't have a lot of time to write content for my site. For the record it's a site similar to this only geared more towards computer programming and hardware support, etc... Anyhow, I am getting 'some' visitors, but very few stick around and visit the site on a regular basis.

In order to both gain more content and hopefully persuade people to use the site more and contribute more. I was thinking that I would setup the site so that those wanting to contribute more than just questions, but actually wanting to take some time and write out complete tutorials, reviews, articles, etc could submit them and depending on the response once a week, preferably day, I would select an article and feature it on the main page.

If a persons article was featured I would pay them, not alot, somethign like $10-20. I figure if I can boost traffic, adsense should cover the cost of this quite easily (hence I'd start out on a weekly feature article and at a lower payout to minimize risk if it fails)

Other than my concerns on wether this would work to build content and bring in more regular users of the site, I'm worried about people submitting work of others (copyrighted) and where the liability would lay.

If I made it quite clear with a disclaimer that Joe Schmoe submitted the article and that I was not liable if the work was copyrighted elsewhere would I be ok (as long as I removed offending material ASAP when I was notified of it)

I'm in Canada, so we are a little less litigiuos(sp?) than those South of the border, but I'd still like to know that I'm fairly safe from any form of legal action.



 3:51 pm on Feb 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

still like to know that I'm fairly safe from any form of legal action

Unfortunately, there are a couple of reasons why we can't offer this reassurance. First, we don't provide legal advice here, but most importantly, you are never safe from legal action. Even if you follow the rules closely, someone can still find grounds to sue you; they may lose in the long run, but you may incur siginficant expense getting to that point.

The odds of such suits may below, but as your site gains prominence the odds increase.

With that disclaimer, I'd say your approach doesn't sound too bad. One thing to think about - some potential contributors may prefer the publicity and/or a link more than the nominal sum you propose. If this were my site, I'd start with a call for contributions that didn't mention money and see what happened.

There may be a few writers who could bang out five or ten articles fairly quickly (perhaps recycling stuff they had written before) and perhaps make the paid submittals worth their while. Regardless of whether the submissions are paid or unpaid, I'd probably do some quick searches on unique phrases to check for obvious content rip-offs.


 3:56 pm on Feb 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

If you are only going to pay $10-20, I would recommend that you didn't offer money, but instead you could do something similar to what SitePoint did (they probably still do). SitePoint would give the writer a profile featured with each article, and the writer could add one URL. For some freelancers and small businesses, that's worth a lot more.

You can either give the writer a subject to write about or ask them for suggestions before they start writing something you might or might not want.

Just make sure that you read and edit all articles and profiles before they go on the site.


 4:09 pm on Feb 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

I was planning on a quick once over to check for ripoffs.

And a profile feature isn't a bad idea either.

I suppose I could offer a choice.

The reason I thought the $10-20 is while it's not much, money motivates.

And I'm not paying for every submission, but those that I choose to use on the site.

I guess I have some work cut out for me getting a online article editor/submission and tracking system coded.

As for the legal aspect, I wasn't looking so much for 'advice' I realize you aren't lawyers. More just suggestions as to what I should watch out for. I realize that you can sue for anything...even a bare nipple!


 4:18 pm on Feb 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

Gibble, it seems like Ivana's on the same track as I was - consider offering exposure and linkage in lieu of a very small payment. While I can't say for sure, I'd guess the kind of writing you'll get for that sum is not going to be great; you'll snag better writers with the non-monetary benefits.

I didn't mean to overstate the legal stuff, but it's important to realize that there are no absolutes. Should Google prevail over the parody site B**ble in trying to get them to turn over their domain name? Should they have brought suit to begin with? From a purely legal standpoint, perhaps not. From a business reality standpoint, Google can probably force a settlement in their favor.


 4:37 pm on Feb 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

The problem I see with exposure and linkage at the moment is I'm not getting the traffic for that to seem like a worthwhile option for people at the moment.

I'm sure in time it would be great, but currently, I personally wouldn't see the incentive.


 4:51 pm on Feb 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

People don't know how much traffic you are getting - some wannabe experts will be flattered to have an article with their byline, even if the only people that see it are the friends they send the link to! :)


 5:05 pm on Feb 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

one of the current trends in copyright protection is having not just a disclaimer but a process for people to follow who feel like you infringed upon their copyrights.

It is my understanding this is part of the US DMCA, but some websites are expanding its scope.

Google seems to have this worked out well


 5:14 pm on Feb 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm not in the US :) Oh crap...but my servers are...damn.


 5:18 pm on Feb 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

I realize you are not in the US, I read your prior posts.

Just because having a process for having a copyright claim is part of US legislation, does not mean it cannot be applied elsewhere.

Unless of course there is a law explicitly against it. Does Canadian legislation prohibit establishing a process for people who feel like their copyrights have been violated?


 5:24 pm on Feb 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

A clear reporting/removal policy should be a show of good faith even under non-US legal systems. Here's another example, close to home:


 5:34 pm on Feb 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

No, no, I agree that a clear removal process needs to be set up. I was just being a smart arse.

Sorry, the written word doesn't exactly convey that I was joking about the server locations mattering as much as the little voice in my head did.

Out of curiosity. If I were to make the monetary value more (after a successful trial run), what would a fair amount be? I really have no clue.


 5:52 pm on Feb 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

consider offering exposure and linkage in lieu of a very small payment.

This is exactly our approach and it is very effective. We get two or three "guest articles" each week now completely unsolicited. We do not accept everything sent and you still have to put your editors hat on and work over some of the material. People love the exposure – part of a good guerrilla PR campaign – and consider it far more valuable than a payment. Start by contacting local business people in your interest area. Often they have good material ready to go.

Here is the general guidelines we provide those that are interested. You would need to modify them for your use.

1. Articles should be focused on 401(k) issues of interest to plan professionals, human resource and benefit administrators, small business owners and/or plan participants. There is no problem with articles that reference specific products as an example that illustrate a point, but articles that are basically product sales pieces are not appropriate.

2. In this day and age, attention spans seem to be very short. So we are attempting to keep article in the under 1,500 words, but this is just a guideline. It is more important to provide good coverage of the issue than worry about the number of words. Shorter items are also acceptable.

3. All articles will be formatted as a separate HTML page on our site and carry the authors byline, a 25 word summary describing you and/or your firms with a link your website, and an invitation for readers to email you directly (with an email link) for more information on the topic or your services.

4. Since our site is a continuously updated site, there is no deadline. Generally, an article will be published to the site within 24 hours of final approval by our editorial staff. Once posted, it will also appear in the next weeks eNewsletter.

5. The best format for us to deal with is a Word document, but PDF files also work as long as there is no “cut and paste” protection.


 6:45 pm on Feb 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

Well, maybe I'll try a combination of the both for now, and see which is more successful.

Thanks for all the great advice and help.

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