A few months ago, someone tweeted at me. It said, "Great article, @gsosk" with a link to a post I had written quite a long time ago for a company. I'm always deeply flattered when people share my content -- especially if it's something that's come out a while ago.
But this time, I didn't know how to feel.
See, this article was written by me and published long ago for another company ... but it had been recently reposted by the company without my permission on a third party site under my name. The post was the same, but my bio wasn't up to date.
I felt icky about it. While I stand by everything I've written (I wouldn't write it if I didn't), the company had some tiny bit of control over my "personal brand" -- that thing that helps me make connections with others in my industry, land future gigs, and you know, generally support myself.
And that icky feeling got me thinking. Legally, the company has a right to use the content I created for them in any way they choose. They hired me and paid me to write it. It's like with any other transaction -- they paid for it, so they own it. But because my name is on the content, should I get some allowances in the whole ownership thing? In a world where your name or byline gets you your next gig, should companies completely own the content you're creating?
It's a tricky situation that most of us will start to face as more people publish content for companies online. So, as the writer I am, I thought it'd be best to sort this whole shebang out through blogging.
Introducing the Great Debate
To figure out this whole mess, we decided to host a day-long debate here on HubSpot's Inbound Hub. Each post on the Marketing and Insiders sections will discuss the issue -- but each post will be from a different perspective in the whole content ownership game. Here's who will be joining us:
Joe Chernov, future VP of Content at HubSpot, will weigh in from the employee perspective at 11:00 a.m. on the Marketing section. Check out Joe's argument here and subscribe to the Marketing section here.
John Bonini, Marketing Director at IMPACT, will argue from the company perspective at 11:00 a.m. on the Insiders section. Check out John's perspective here and click here to subscribe to the Insiders section.
Lisa Gulasy, Content Specialist at Kuno Creative, will weigh in at 2:00 p.m. with the ghostwriter perspective on the Insiders section. Check out Lisa's argument here and click here to subscribe to the Insiders section.
Barry Feldman, President of Feldman Creative, will give us the freelancer perspective on content ownership at 2:00 p.m. on the Marketing section. See Barry's perspective on the whole debate by clicking here and subscribe to the Marketing section by clicking here.
Pick a Side in the #GreatDebate
We don't just want our contributors to weigh in on this issue -- we want to hear what you think. How much ownership -- if at all -- should employees, freelancers, and ghostwriters have of the content they create? Have any of our contributors won you over?
Leave a comment on one of the blog posts or tweet at us with the hashtag #greatdebate embedded within each post to let us know what you think. We'll be doing a roundup at the end of the day featuring top comments, tweets, and blog posts about the issue as well as answers to some questions you may have for our contributors.
So go on, weigh in! The Great Debate has begun.
Also be on the lookout for an additional post discussing this issue from the media's perspective on Up and to the Right at 12 p.m.