Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What happens after you die?

To your online content I mean. This isn’t some existentialist, religious or spiritual question. I know what can happen to some content. I have stored all my passwords for messenger, e-mail, Facebook, etc. in a safe place so that if I die it can all be accessed and updated/deleted, depending on what the site allows. And that’s all well and good for sites like that, where my existence was minimal at best - I don’t have a big online persona outside of writing content and most people forget I have Facebook or other things (I do too) - and I don’t earn money on them.

But what happens to your content on the sites you write for? What happens to the income generated on that content after your death?

You might be surprised to find out that with online writing, your content and earnings may transfer to the site you submitted to if you didn’t give a family, friend or other loved one the passwords for your accounts so they can go and deleted content. And on almost all sites - every site I’ve encountered so far - revenue share content will no longer earn for you or your family; the money on any content not deleted - or content unable to be deleted due to the rights it was sold with - will be kept by the company.

This is all new ground legally and though you can put your online resources into your will, no company online company really has to honor that, as it would require a great deal of things to be transferred including the copyright of the articles, the ownership of the account you wrote under - which is against the TOS of most sites anyway - and the changing of tax information which is usually stable and unchangeable for a writing site.

There’s been a push on by members who want to have all these rules changed, who want to be able to transfer writes and earnings in the case of death. This was brought up many months ago but was virtually ignored save for a half-hearted “I’ll take this to legal” that was then never updated. The thread discussing it was then deleted. But the people will apparently not be silenced when it comes to ways to take care of family after death because it was brought up once again. We still have the “I’ll take this to legal” answer with no update, but at least we know it’s not forgotten.

Start fighting for your posthumous rights, freelance writers of the world! If you own your content and especially if you make revenue share profits you and your family deserve to be able to continue to earn on it!