I have a question that may or may not be simple regarding "ghostwritten" articles. This question has to do with both ethical and professional concerns.
I have written quite a technical articles, ranging from blog posts, to tutorials, to professional and research materials through Upwork. I generally like to post my work on my personal website, and I'm wondering/concerned about an ethical/professional question.
However, the vast majority of the works in public domain do not contain my name as author (which seems common here). I'd like to be able to post these on my site; very few have NDAs.
For works where my byline appears, the answer is simple, I like to post those.
My question is, for those that don't have my name or byline, assuming there is no NDA, how would one go about listing these (ideally with a link). I'd divide these into two groups:
- unauthored works (e.g. those that have no author listed but appear on a business or organization's blog)
- authored works with someone else's name on them ("ghoswritten")
Does anyone have any thoughts about these? Some of these are what I consider some of my best work and I'd like to show them on my site as part of my professional portfolio, but I'm curious of how one would handle this? My current portfolio is extremely out of date, and I want to flesh it out a little.
a) list them with a brief mention saying they were written for someone else (this seems easiest for category 1, but I'm still unsure),
b) just a title a description with a comment such as "provided upon request" with a stated comment saying "written under someone else's byline" (less ideal, as these are some of my best works, and I'm willing to bet that in 90+% of these nobody will ask)
c) don't list them at all (very frustrating)
d) some other option (such as creating a section specifically for these on the site available only with a password or something)
I'm aware that if I list articles under category 2, it's a bit awkward since they explicitly have someone else's name, and even with permission, it looks weird and dishonest, but some of these are really my very best work (including one that is a 30+ page PDF including creation of a testing model, research and application of that model)
Another thought is raising my rates for those which are not self-authored, but that doesn't seem ideal as I'm willing to be a lot of potential clients would balk at that.
I gather the answers may be different for categories 1 and 2, or the same
Looking for honest opinions/professional advice.
Solved! Go to Solution.
You really shouldn't put ANYTHING in your portfolio that you don't have permission to put there.
And you should not "assume" permission.
If you wrote something for yourself, for your own entertainment of specifically for the purpose of putting it in your porfolio... Then you own it! Go ahead and include it.
But if you wrote something on behalf of a client - somebody who paid you to write it - then the default Upwork contract stipulates that the paying client owns ALL property rights. That means you don't actually have the right to put it into your portfolio. BUT: You can ask clients for permission to include the item in your portfolio. And if they say yes, go ahead and do so.
There is even a way to include an item in our portfolio with an official link to the job, identifying it as a project you did via Upwork, and setting that up will automatically cause Upwork to request permission from the client.
If you don't relish the idea of including writing in your portfolio with SOMEONE ELSE'S name listed as author, then simply request permission from the owner (client) to display that writing in your portfolio with YOUR name as the byline.
Or (if you get permission to include the item in your portfolio), strip out the byline completely.
I don't believe that answers my questions.
Are you suggesting that I can't even put links to public articles with my byline on it without client permission? That seems absurd, and outside the realm of anything I have ever heard.
Yes, I have a pretty solid understanding of copyright law, regarding contracts of ownership, such as with academic journals.
Can you address the other questions I have? I thought I carefully spelled it out, including several options, such as options b) and d)?
At the very least, listings of a bibliography are legal, with authorship otherwise academic cv's posted on someone's website would be illegal, which they are most certainly not. Bibliographic information is normal, and with modern citation rules, weblinks are considered part of any bibliography, and expected. This means a link to the website.
Maybe I wasn't clear. I'm not talking about posting the entire article on my website. I'm talking about a page of links.
If somebody has posted something on the web, I don't see any reason why you couldn't include a LINK to it.
I can include a link to their article from my personal website. There is no ethical or legal reason not to do so.
BUT... If somebody has posted an article YOU wrote and they have removed YOUR name as the writer and replaced it with another name.... That's another matter. That makes a difference. Because by putting a link to that item from YOUR portfolio, you are saying that you wrote something (which is true), but you are in effect usurping the actual owner's right to claim authorship of the piece.
Ok, just so I have it clear (and because I am somewhat "left-brained' if we accept this sort of designation):
The following is ok:
- Links to posts on a public piece with my name listed as author
- Links to posts on a public piece (that I wrote) with no name listed as author (just the company website). (This is how I've been doing it for past articles)
The following is not okay:
- Links to any public place where someone else is listed as an author, where no permission was given
The following is okay, but questionable:
- Links to a post where I wrote the article, and permission is given. (If they give permission, which seems unlikely, but it seems like it would be okay, but seriously awkward unless a designation could be provided)
The following is a gray area:
The remaining question, which to me seems like it would be okay which might solve part of my problem so as to expand my bibliography for those in the grey area:
- A listing of articles (maybe not even the original title) and description, with no link specifying the website, under a section entitled "unavailable" or "private" articles.
This last section could also include B2B articles and projects. Again, these would be unnamed (at least not with the actual title) but just descriptions of the work.
Does this make sense?
So you are publishing content that you wrote for someone else on your blog in full without asking first? I don't think that's a good idea, friendo. If that's true, some client is gonna find their content on your site and they gonna rage. If they rage to Upwork, that could be a problem.
Im starting to think my writing isn't as clear as I thought. As I said this several times.
These would be links to content on their website. I would never publish
the articles on my site without permission. That would be a clear violation
For contents written Under your own name, it usually does make no difference to the company if you post an excerpt and link it to the original article. In most cases if you ask, client would be willing to give you permission.
For Non-Author Content it depends. For Example- If a company claims they are an expert on cerain things,they would certainly not like their customers to know that some of their best technical content was done by a freelancer. It will look as if they do not have enough competent people in their area of expertise. Though that ofcourse will not be true for all non author work and for some of them client may not mind if you put a link to it and claim it was written by You.
For Ghost Written article, it is most likley a NO as they were ghost written for a purpose.
The one thing that is common in all the three situations is that You cannot assume permission , you should ask for it.
It is not just about pasting a link of an article on your website. Its about claiming that you are the author, which may or may not in line with what client wants it to look like.
I am not getting into debate of legality etc but I would certainly consider it desirable that the permission is sought from the Client who owns all rights to the product and is deemed to be the author. That would be much better than the client coming to know of it from someone else.
You can even ask for the permission at the time of commencement of work itself. That would keep the clients and you on same page from the very beginning and avoid situations that may escalate into legal issues, besides burning the bridges.
What you may not do, however, is to put any of your contact information in your portfolio or any contact information on your website. You can give this information to a client in a proposal, but its against the rules and regs to display it publicly, or give links to it.
When the client pays you for the material, it's HIS and no longer yours. Do not put it in your portfolio or anywhere else without express permission from the client. Do not link without permission. As for NDA's, treat everything you provide your client as if you signed an NDA, whether you did or not. It's the ethical thing to do. Yes, it can be frustrating. Some of my best work now belongs to someone else, as well. I have asked permission to put a couple of pieces on my portfolio and been denied. I respectfully comply. It's how this game is played, and I knew that going in.