Freelance To Be You and Me with Katie Lane (Episode 76)


Katie Lane is an attorney who writes a blog called Work Made for Hire. She advises creative freelancers and artists on how to protect their rights and get paid fairly for their work. She recently took the plunge herself, going full-time as a self-employed person. We’ll talk about what led her into this specialized career and the kinds of things that people who want to or are pursuing work on their own should consider. We take a brief, deep dive into copyright, too.

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Show notes

The US Copyright Office has a circular that defines work-for-hire rules (PDF). Katie notes that regardless of what contract you sign, you can reclaim rights after 35 years. It’s a very specific process. This has been an ongoing issue with the rights related to early creators of well-known comics characters, like Superman.

The phonogram right is a set of audio rights separate from copyright. I explain it at length at the Economist. For extensive and interesting details about the duration of copyright in America, depending on what kind of thing is under discussion, when it was created or registered, and other factors, consult this chart by copyright guru Peter Hirtle at Cornell University’s site.

I wrote a pile of words on the tax and licensing issues (in America) around crowdfunding. You can apply for and receive an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS through a simple online process — no, I’m not kidding! It’s great!

The @for_exposure Twitter account is a riot, posting messages about people asking for work from others for free.

Katie recommends taking a look at these sites:

  • Zencash: Helpful best practices (and a service) for getting paid and on time.

  • Docracy: An open-source contract site, where you can examine others’ contracts and upload your own.

  • Shake: It’s a way to create, sign, and send legally binding agreements via an iPad or iPhone.

  • Contract Creator: A tool from the Freelancers Union that guides you through creating a model for most or all of what you need.