Popular Woodworking Magazine (who have the rights?) is that really ok?

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Blog entry by mafe posted 02-18-2011 09:00 PM 15212 reads 0 times favorited 67 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Popular Woodworking Magazine
be careful with readers contributions, ‘Tricks of the trade’.

Hi LJ’s.

I have an experience I want to share with you; unfortunately I can’t say it was a good one, but not the end of the world either…
All of you, who know me here on LJ, probably know I’m not a complaining kind of person.

Some months ago I was contacted by Popular Woodworking Magazine (PWM), they asked if they could bring one of my posts here on LJ in the magazine (They had found it them self).
I was of course proud, and said yes! (Imagine little me, Danish MaFe in an American woodworking magazine that was a fun story to tell my friends about, even my LJ friends).
Then I send them the stuff they needed, and explained my project, this took me some time, an hour or two, but I thought it was worth the effort and the fun.
Then app. a month later they wrote me again, this time that they wanted to bring five of my projects! Five!!!
Again I thought it was fun, and they told me I would participate in a competition about money for tools, and also I would receive 75-100 dollars for each contribution.
So now we were getting somewhere I was thinking, this could even pay a part of an airplane ticket (I was thinking of South Africa – DIV). As some of you know I’m retired due to an operation in my neck, so I could also use the money.

But something told me to check what was written with small letters, and nothing was written with small in the mails I had received, so I looked in the magazine (I am a subscriber), and then I had a wakeup call.
In the magazine, they write that the contributions will be their property after! Their property!!!
So I wrote them back, and asked what the meaning of this was? If it was also the case when they had contacted me? And if they found it fair not to tell me if so?

This started a series of mails, where they thought they could, perhaps not, perhaps, and so.
They did excuse for the lack of information.

One of my last mails was this:

I’m only happy you ask.

I think that if you want to own the rights of people’s ideas, yes then you should pay them a proper fee, something equaling to the time spend.
But if you post print them and hold the rights to re print and so on, I think the prices are fair, as long as you don’t try to take over the rights of the project, and then it’s what is called a win – win situation.

I say that I can give you the right to print my projects for the mentioned prices, and re use them for books, videos, and whatever, but not give you the right over the projects, this is the offer from me.
If I want to make a video, a book or whatever I want of curse the right to use my own project as I want, I put them on the web to share, and I will put them in your magazine to share, but I will not give away the rights like that.
I’m an architect, so I usually get royalties for the projects I sell, that’s a different story.
But you can ask the magazine if they will swap ideas, then I can get some of yours, at the same price… Smile.

No please take me serious, I try to be reasonable with you here.

Best thoughts,

(I only post this one mail to show that there was a good tone between us and that I tried).

This was as large as I could get, but it was not enough (think I made quite an effort).

At the end they had to ask the editor (Mr. Schwartz I suppose), and then the answer came that they insisted to have the right on the projects they bring!
Quote: (As you have discovered, this is common practice for magazines to ask for the rights to tips. In fact, other publications ask submitters to sign contracts…).

They did say, that they will not ask one to remove the post from LJ, but it can’t be used any other place…

Is that ok?
Is that really fair to the contributor?
Where I come from this would never happen, of course it’s not the publishers right when he asks you to send in a ‘Trick of the trade’, and pay you a symbolic price for it. (I worked with commercial for seven years).
But perhaps the land of the free, are not free anymore, at least when money are involved?

I have been waiting to see what offers they made me, but none of the editors called and offered me some of their projects for 75 dollar… Perhaps I should give Mr. Schwartz a call and ask if he will sell me some of his projects for 75 dollar, I don’t know why, but I think I know his answer. lol.

So where do I want to go with all this?
I just want my LJ, buddies to know that if you are ‘offered’ to be man of the month in PWM you also lose the rights to your own ideas and projects.
This is of course a choice; perhaps for some five minutes of fame are worth 75 dollar, to me it is not!

To end this, I will say PWM has been polite and always responded in a good tone (The editor of ‘Tricks of the trade, especially) even they did not know their own rules when asking.
But I have decided not to renew my subscription to the magazine, since I can’t support a policy like this against the readers and contributors (sorry I was otherwise happy to read it).

Fine wood working Magazine

I have spoken with Fine wood working Magazine, and they have explained me their terms for contributors, and this is not at all what PWM calls the ‘standard’, they write me:
If you were to submit a proposal for an article or a department submission—for which FW would also compensate you with payment—FW does ask your for the rights to do whatever they’d like with it in the magazine (you’d receive this in a contract), and that material would be given full rights for use in FW. However, FW has full rights, but not exclusive rights, to the material. This means that any ideas, text, etc that you submit to us are yours to use elsewhere as well. The only thing that FW asks is for there to be a 90 day period between the time that FW publishes, and when you post that same material elsewhere. This is mostly for strategic reasons, to not diminish the power of the publishing time. Once the material is out in the world for 3 months, it is usually fine to post things elsewhere. Here is more detail:

-if the photos for a final article were taken by you or a freelance photographer who you paid yourself, you own the full rights to those photos as well of course. (again, we just ask for a 90-day wait period before further publication.)
-if the photos were taken by the FW staff, they do belong to FW. Any use by you of the photos should be cleared through our administrator. This would happen once the article or department submission is completed. One thing which we often give to authors, however, is the first page of the article, much as you see on our website. This means that readers will be able to read the first part of the text or quite often see a very nice first-page photo of the item or jig, etc. You can use this as promo, link to the main article, etc. as you wish, I believe (Betsy can inform you further).

-submitting a proposal, and any materials with it, does imply your permission for FW to use that material as it sees fit. What this really means, is that we use it for determining if a further article or submission can be considered. We do this at frequent proposal meetings, and if you wish to submit anything, please feel free to do so directly to me, and I can move it along the process as quickly as possible.
Here is a full online version of our author guidelines, and the official version of what I told you is there:
You might also like to see this page:

This is to me fair treatment of the readers and contributors, and no I have no connection to them or any other magazine, just had to react, so I think I will try a subscription.

My thoughts now:
Perhaps after all the time has run away from Woodworking magazines, perhaps it’s time for new ways to share ideas, show projects and sell project plans on demand and at a fair price.
Perhaps it’s time that we look at the possibilities of the web, solutions where people who are willing to share their ideas can do so, and when they make a project tutorial and plans they even get a piece of the cake, and don’t lose the rights to what is theirs.
I have a feeling that we here on LJ are taking the first steps, and after this episode I intend to do more myself for a more democratic approach to woodworking knowledge.

For me at the end, the answer was quite easy to find in my heart, so as I said in the beginning ‘it is not the end of the world’.

If someone needs more info of the mails, then I’m a open source person, so feel free to ask.

Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

67 comments so far

View mafe's profile


13294 posts in 4302 days

#1 posted 02-18-2011 09:01 PM

Please leave your comments, thoughts, big and small, agree and disagree, I think it will be interesting with a deabate on this subject.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View TJ65's profile


1425 posts in 4262 days

#2 posted 02-18-2011 09:12 PM

well thanks for that Mad. I will certainly have to look deeper into my idea of gettting published in a mag. the vase I posted just recently I had all intentions of wanting to get it published- well maybe not now! I might just have to go thru my husbands agent first!
Thanks for the heads up it has come at the perfect time (for me).

-- Theresa,

View Steven Davis's profile

Steven Davis

118 posts in 4127 days

#3 posted 02-18-2011 09:13 PM

(Some) Companies will try to get as complete rights as possible. I had a similar experience when I wrote my book – the publisher insisted that they keep the copyright… I said “No” and there was no book until new leadership came in and revisited the topic, now they have exclusive rights for several years until the book goes out of print.

I think your approach was fine and Fine Woodworking’s seems sensible (it is probably because they are also a book publisher).

It is good to read the fine print in all contracts!

Best of luck.

-- Steven Davis - see me at

View levan's profile


472 posts in 4192 days

#4 posted 02-18-2011 09:23 PM

I think you handled the situation perfectly. I do hope you get into ffw magizine. It sounds like pwm needs to change their policy. I’m sure they don’t give out free subscriptions. Thanks for sharing.

-- "If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right". Henry Ford

View toolchap's profile


150 posts in 4133 days

#5 posted 02-18-2011 09:28 PM

I have only 3 words for you. “Good on you Mafe, well done and good luck…and all good stuff!”

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 4321 days

#6 posted 02-18-2011 09:29 PM

First, let me say congrats Mads for your work being recognized, for good or ill, by a woodworking publication. No matter the outcome, the quality of your projects was (and is) recognized.

I think it is important to know the distinction between a company paying you for the use of, rather than the ownership of work that is submitted. If you ever plan on using the material to publish a book per se or create a video of a woodworking tutorial, problems might occur. I think the power play you are seeing from Popular Woodworking revolve around concerns that they are paying you for an article that they fear might show up in another magazine at the time they release it. Very competitive market in the woodworking magazine world. One thing you might try to do in the future is negotiate a contract where you retain rights but would not release the material for one year after their publication date. This way, their concerns about immediate competition can be alleviated and you still retain your document.

I don’t believe there was any intent to deceive on PWs part. In business, most departments don’t talk to each other. In other words, the person who admired your work just thought “Wow, cool stuff. I bet this would make a great article…” The contract sent to you was just the standard stuff written by lawyers who want to make sure they don’t get sued, that the company doesn’t pay for an article featured in 6 magazines at the same time, and something that insures they can republish in the future or put it in book form whenever they want. This would not be in the mind of those that put the magazine together. Your question, though polite and definitely within reason, was not one they were prepared for and so you are getting the aftermath of the questions to the attorneys, the editor, and the business staff from the creative staff so it usually comes out sounding argumentative, unprepared, or lame.

Thanks for sharing and, again, congrats on being recognized.


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View Div's profile


1653 posts in 4153 days

#7 posted 02-18-2011 09:39 PM

My brother in the North! You acted well, I’m proud of you. $75 for exclusive rights is a joke! Anyway, in my opinion FWW is a much better magazine. I get the feeling that you are busy cooking up something else…!
Sell them your nice cartoon for $100 !!

-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 4371 days

#8 posted 02-18-2011 09:45 PM

It really depends on the publisher.

I’m an astrophotographer and I create real space-images. I’ve had many images published in magazine’s and books. In most cases, there is not a “formal” contract stipulating it. If you consent to usage of the image in a magazine, you simply say so, normally by email, and they will send you a check for single usage of it. Of course, the parameters are usually outlined in the magazine or on their website, but it’s usually the same typical usage-agreement.

In doing so, you will likely consent to offering them full-permission to its usage, meaning that if they want to use it in multiple publications then they do not need permission. However, they still must pay you another usage fee for each occurance.

It’s not typical that you would yield exclusive-rights to an image (or project/tip in this case)...and truthfully it doesn’t benefit them in anyway other than that they won’t have to go through the administrative process again should they decide to run the same content in another publication. This is actually to YOUR benefit, since you don’t have to go through those hassles…you just start receiving checks.

But, definitely read the fine print and ask your questions!

-- jay,

View Kerry Drake's profile

Kerry Drake

169 posts in 4233 days

#9 posted 02-18-2011 10:08 PM

Maybe its just me, but I don’t see a problem with the FW stuff as posted above. FW explicitly states it does not take “exclusive” rights, and simply asks that you do not use the material anywhere else for 90 days…

Am I missing something here?

FW has full rights, but not exclusive rights, to the material. This means that any ideas, text, etc that you submit to us are yours to use elsewhere as well. The only thing that FW asks is for there to be a 90 day period between the time that FW publishes, and when you post that same material elsewhere

-- Kerry Drake, Loudon NH,

View mpounders's profile


1004 posts in 4108 days

#10 posted 02-18-2011 10:10 PM

Thanks for posting this….it may come in handy sometime for others with great projects or ideas!

-- Mike P., Arkansas,

View daltxguy's profile


1373 posts in 5127 days

#11 posted 02-18-2011 10:15 PM

Well, congrats for having projects good enough to be considered for any magazine!

The publishers are probably running scared now with the internet, forums, blogs, self publishing – all of these things now possible through the internet and technology. Magazines are probably having to rethink their approach and/or have not yet reacted to the changing landscape of publishing. Maybe even $75 was a lot of money at one time, it’s worth about a coffee and a bagel now.

The interesting question also becomes this however: if I post on LJ who owns it? While LJ is offered as a free service, it is nonetheless now owned by a corporate. Corporates are interested in only one thing – making money and the only way for publishers to make money is either by selling advertising (offering viewer’s eyes) or by selling content (books, magazines, DVDs, whatever).

Who owns the content on LJ and what rights do you give up when you post here?

-- If you can't joint it, bead it!

View itsmic's profile


1419 posts in 4331 days

#12 posted 02-18-2011 10:24 PM

Very interesting subject, I think you are a very patient and understanding man. You are deserving of any and all rights to your own work within the law, if you where deceived, intentionally or not, that does not sound right, I hope this sort of thing is not wide spread.

-- It's Mic Keep working and sharing

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 4321 days

#13 posted 02-18-2011 10:28 PM

Steve, that would probably be a question best given to Martin. Since we sign no contract, our writings are our own. I for one am confident that my “brilliance” is not at risk and LJs will not make a billion dollars from my writing.


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View mafe's profile


13294 posts in 4302 days

#14 posted 02-18-2011 10:37 PM

Hi all,
Kerry, FWM are doing right in my eyes and I give no critics but positive to them.
But PWM are not only asking for these 90 days, they want the full rights.
Jay, in Europe we also are more used to trust, not to ask for something for nothing (close to).
DIV, I look forward to test FWM, they seem to be more woodworking and less ‘image’, but as a Dane, I had to try first.
I don’t cook on a lot myself in this way, but I do have some plans for a web site but it will not be a new woodworking site, but a place to help people who are less fortunate.
David, I have got so much recognized here at LJ, so it was more as a luxury bonus pack!
And to be honest a few words from a fellow LJ are more worth to me, than to give my rights to a magazine, that after my standards are not treating people fair. I think PWM should look at how FWM are dealing with this. I agree that of course they don’t want to see the article in other places at the same time, but to take the rights are not at all fair.
They do take these rights so they can make videos, web based publishing, and books. But is this fair? That they pay this little for using it so much? I would be happy they used my ideas, I believe in democracy of knowhow, especially in this web world. I don’t think PWM tried to deceive me, they simply made a mistake, and have a policy I think is too much one way, and try to take advantage of peoples need for five minutes of fame.
I did write those several mails asking if they were sure in this, and they ended up saying they were.
Toolchap, ;-)
Lynn, this is also how I see it.
Steven, ;-)
TJ, yes we have to be aware, trust is not a thing we can expect, even it makes me sad. Where are the good old fair play?
Best thoughts and thank you for the comments, I’m happy to hear that it is not only me that feel something is wrong, I was a little worried to blog this since I know how web based critics can be read wrong,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View mafe's profile


13294 posts in 4302 days

#15 posted 02-18-2011 10:41 PM

Mike, ;-)
Steve, yes I think the problem is greed and fear, but in this new world of information, I think openness are the way, not to take rights from others, and sit with the arms closed.
The second part is for Martin to answer, I have asked him once and was smiling after the answer.
Itsmic, thank you.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

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