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Freelance writers ink for Web payment

Contentville, NWU come to terms

A group repping freelance writers has struck a deal with Steven Brill for payment to the writers for resale of old articles, somewhat like residuals for television shows.

The board of the National Writers Union approved a deal Thursday with Brill’s Contentville.com site, under which writers who have work for sale on the site will receive 30% of the download fees paid by site customers. The pact calls for the royalties to be paid through the union’s Publication Rights Clearinghouse.

NWU said it believes the clearinghouse will serve as a model for writers and media owners. “What this means: Your articles have value and we must fight collectively to maintain the rights to our work!” the NWU said.

NWU, which reps over 5,000 freelancers and is affiliated with the United Auto Workers, said the mechanics will take some time to implement but told writers they should search Contentville.com to assert ownership of work that may be for sale. Writers will have the option of receiving royalties or removing their work from Contentville.

The pact comes nearly a year after a federal appeals court found that publishers cannot include freelancers’ work in their databases without permission of the writers. Time Co. and the New York Times Co. have said they plan to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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