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What to do if a former client stole my byline and attributed a dozen articles to someone else?

tlsanders
Community Guru
Tiffany S Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
BEST ANSWER
11 of 13

It's the realities that are harsh, not the people who share them.

 

A bit of elaboration on the rights issue: Upwork's default contract terms transfer sole rights to the client upon payment. Unless you and the client entered into a written contract that overrides that term, you have no rights to assert. (It sounds like you may have had a supplemental contract term re attribution--I'll  circle back to that in a moment).

 

When Jenn says "you have no damages" she doesn't mean that the issue isn't important to you or that you haven't suffered disappointment. She's speaking from a legal perspective (as is appropriate, since you're looking for a legal remedy). Were you to pursue this legally, what monetary damages would you assert, and how would you prove them? 

 

There is one issue left unaddressed in the two previous responses, and that is the possibility that you reserved the right to be credited on the work in a written agreement with the client that supersedes Upwork's default terms. If in fact that was included in the offer the client sent and you accepted, then they may have breached your contract. 

 

But, that brings you back around to Jenn's point. Upwork can't help you with that. And, enforcing specific performance of contract terms is difficult and expensive. If you are willing to invest several thousand dollars and 9-18 months in pursuit of that goal, it's possible that you could force the client to use your byline--IF it continued to use your work at all. But, as all of the experienced freelancers here are telling you, it is an expensive extreme long shot.

 

Generally, it's a very poor idea to reduce rates for bylines, since most bylines aren't worth much. The client can edit your work into a form that you don't want displaying your name, for example, or the quality of other content on the site may create a poor impression of you by association. But, if that is something that is important to you, make sure it is a clear contract term. 

 

You might gain more by reserving the right to use the pieces as samples.

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juliework6
Active Member
Julie W Member Since: Jun 22, 2015
12 of 13

Thank you Tiffany, for a well-thought-out answer that is not flippant. I think the people who answered previously were harsh and impatient. And in that case, I wonder why they bothered to answer in the first place. 

I am not trying to take legal action. That wasn't ever on my mind (or in my original question). I was simply trying to find out if I could protect other freelancers. But somehow, in a moment of insanity, I forgot that I am on a platform that doesn't care about anything but making money. Silly me. 

This Upwork "community" is a place I dip into about once a year or so and almost always regret it. I should know better than to expect improvement--as if the people here would somehow be different than anywhere else online, or different (kinder?) than they were previously. 

But you have been generous with your information and I appreciate it, Tiffany. Thank you. 

colettelewis
Community Guru
Nichola L Member Since: Mar 13, 2015
13 of 13

 

 

 


Julie W wrote:

Thank you Tiffany, for a well-thought-out answer that is not flippant. I think the people who answered previously were harsh and impatient. And in that case, I wonder why they bothered to answer in the first place. 

I am not trying to take legal action. That wasn't ever on my mind (or in my original question). I was simply trying to find out if I could protect other freelancers. But somehow, in a moment of insanity, I forgot that I am on a platform that doesn't care about anything but making money. Silly me. 

This Upwork "community" is a place I dip into about once a year or so and almost always regret it. I should know better than to expect improvement--as if the people here would somehow be different than anywhere else online, or different (kinder?) than they were previously. 

But you have been generous with your information and I appreciate it, Tiffany. Thank you. 


____________________________________________________________
There is absolutely nothing to suggest altruism and the wish to help other freelancers in your original post. 

"I worked for a former client for low pay with the agreement that I would get attribution for my articles. He's now changed them on his website and given credit to someone else--essentially stealing my work. Do I have any recourse? Can I report him or have him blocked as a client here on upwork? I've already reached out to him and asked him to change it, but he hasn't responded." 

And later, only that you wished for the client to be suspended in order not to cheat other freelancers. Something that is not likely to happen

 

On the other hand, Tiffany's advice, which  would probably cost $$$$ from a B&M lawyer, is also advice that very much benefits other freelancers.  

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