I’m not a lawyer, but…

Like I suppose a lot of people must do, I just started sending unsolicited drawings to magazines in the hope that they would publish them (which to be fair, after 40 years of trying, they did). But then it emerged that my most important client publication has some very firm views about what else I can do with work they publish, which slightly limits my freedom. I don’t want to argue with them because the limitations aren’t severe, they are pretty accommodating when I ask for clearance to reuse the drawings in other contexts, and they pay well anyway in the first instance. But it raised a bigger point: I suspect that it is very rare for publications to inform would-be contributors of their terms and conditions for the use of unsolicited material, so in effect they don’t form part of the contract that comes into being when we submit work and they pay us. Because it’s a buyers’ market and publishers are bigger than us, we could end up defenceless if they claim more than just the right to reproduce our work once in a print edition. They could just wave their (previously-undisclosed) terms and conditions at the judge or arbitrator.

To try to deal with this issue, I wrote a default set of terms and conditions (see below) which is published on my web site and all my email correspondence has a link to it in the signature block. This should in theory put the publisher on notice that they can’t play fast and loose with my intellectual property. And should a case ever go to court, I feel I’d be in a stronger position, because the publication’s terms and conditions shouldn’t take precedence if I’ve shown them mine but they haven’t shown me theirs.

So for what it’s worth these are my published terms and conditions:

I understand that publishers of print media such as magazines may wish to use material that I have submitted unsolicited, and it will not usually be practical to agree the full terms of an individual contract at short notice if at all. Publishers may or may not have standard terms and conditions of contract which may or may not comprehensively cover rights and I may or may not be aware of them if they do exist. This page explains the default conditions which I will apply in the absence of written agreement to the contrary.


‘Me’ and ‘I’ mean Vilnis Vesma known also as Vilnissimo. ‘The work’ means a literary or artistic creation of which I am the author. ‘Publisher’ means a person reproducing any such work or contemplating its reproduction.


Publication of the work will have the effect of creating a contract between the publisher and me under English law unless such a contract already exists.

Reproduction rights

Subject to a consideration which I deem sufficient the publisher will enjoy, for the full term of copyright and any extension thereof, a non-exclusive licence to reproduce the work on one occasion world-wide in one form.

Moral rights

I assert my right to be identified as the author of the work. Pseudonymous attribution to “Vilnissimo” will be sufficient.

Subsidiary rights

I retain the right to reproduce the work in any other form.

Competing works

I undertake not to license any reproduction of the work in the same form by any competitor of the publisher for a period of three years from its first use by the publisher.


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