Work For Hire: Proper Attribution Vs. Blatant Content Theft

There...  Now It's Mine!

Kids, just because you say it’s yours does not make it so.

There’s a disturbingly large contingent of delusional people that feel that a consultant’s work is automatically “work for hire”.  These are the folks that feel they can buy an image for $5 and maintain exclusive rights or pay a web developer $100 and have a web site that is unique, professional, and functional.  What’s worse is that they assume that ownership of rights of use (think Creative Commons licenses) means full ownership – there’s a world of difference there, kids!

Personally, I feel the term work for hire is a dirty phrase.  The average client has tight budgets and can’t pay for full ownership and exclusivity yet the expectation is that a consultant or freelancer always offers their services as WFH.  This is simply not true, nor is it fair.  It’s bad business for all parties involved.

So, WTF is “work for hire”?

I’m no lawyer but I’ve dealt with lawyers and legal jargon enough to understand that there are explicit and implicit rules for establishing ownership to intellectual property or content of any sort.  “Work for hire” essentially means you work behind the scenes and maintain no rights.  When I do work as a ghostwriter, I get paid large sums up-front for the right to give up any credit.  This means I can’t make any claims to the work, not even on a resume, unless I keep it anonymous.  Ghostwriting is the exception to the rules stated herein and, unless you sign an NDA or NC contract that stipulates ownership explicitly, the rights to content and end products are shared as far as I’m concerned.  Am I wrong in thinking this?

Consulting is tricky because there are no real standards for billing rates but pretty much every client will try to underpay if they can get away with it.  This is understandable: everyone wants more profits and savings.  The typical assumption is that you do the work, then it’s theirs, and you move on until you’re needed again.  This is what I call “one and done” work – it’s a real grind and rarely worth the effort unless you’re desperate.  These days, I do not bother with work for hire projects because…

  • It rarely leads to referrals or future work (unless maybe I beg).
  • It is not very profitable, nor is it efficient use of time.
  • It pulls me away from things that create long-term value for my brand(s).

I appreciate the fact that everyone is looking for a deal and wants to maximize investments but no one wants to be an indentured servantProject parameters and boundaries must be set to protect all business interests and circumvent any squabbles.  I’m all for giving freebies and value-added services but I’m not going to work for peanuts and neither should you!

…And now for story/rant time with Yogizilla!

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Why It Might Be Time To Dump Facebook

Everywhere I turn, a friend or colleague tells me Facebook recently sent them a nastygram about spammy behavior.  Each time, we have a laugh about it..  until someone gets suspended for the most asenine of reasons.  I have not been a fan of Facebook for a while but now it is only getting worse.  Let’s just say I am glad I did not put all my eggs in one basket…

As a free platform with full functionality out of the box, Facebook was a strong social network.  It started as a site for college students to network with each other and turned into something much bigger and better.  Facebook has blown up and become bigger than I am sure they originally anticipated.  In my humble opinion, they became too big too fast.

Due to the rapid surge in growth (and selling out with their IPO, which means now it’s all about keeping shareholders, not users, happy), Facebook has scurried to find ways to monetize.  Their strategy has been what we see so often: take away what we were already getting for free and water down the rest, essentially forcing people to pay if they want the same functionality.  It’s the old bait-and-switch at work.

The Facebook Bait-And-Switch - Make Friends, Then Pay For Them

Facebook – you don’t own my friends and fans!

The Facebook model is brilliant yet tragically commonplace: give it away for free, create a dependency (or addiction), then monetize and take our candy away.  On Facebook, we make friends and get fans only to find out they are Facebook’s property.  Fan Pages are almost completely useless now as only a small percentage of your subscribers will see updates unless you pony up some money.

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Cutting Off Ties: The Painful Cost Of Success

Lately, it feels like there has been a long string of personal development content popping up, mainly focused on the things you need to do to succeed, how most of us have it all wrong (BTW, we ALL have it wrong), and the things we do to hold ourselves back. Quite a lot of it makes sense but I wonder if maybe we over-complicate matters and stifle our growth sometimes. Maybe, for some, the cost of success and true fulfillment in life is too high.

What is the cost of success, really? Does it have to be so hard?

For those that like short and sweet answers, here’s an emphatic YES.

True success is hard and the cost is high, especially for those that like their comfort zones. When I say true success I mean the type of life that goes beyond the mundane and what everyone thinks you should do. I’m talking about the lifestyle where work and life flow together and you follow the beat of your own drum. I’m talking about resting easy at night, knowing you’ve found your calling, your purpose.

In a few words, I’m talking about the level of success that requires cutting off ties, leaving behind the world as we know it and the things that shackle us into restrictive or destructive ways. If success were easy, everyone with great ideas and strong opinions would win big.. But we know that’s not the case.

Allow me to rant here because maybe, just maybe, you may be in this weird place in your life… Continue reading

Some Rants And Gripes About The Challenges Of Working From Home

It’s time for a real rant. I’ve been inspired by Dino Dogan’s “take no prisoners” approach to business. He’s a modern-day business Spartan. I’d like to follow his lead by being part insultant, part consultant here (more than usual).

Working from home can be a real pain. As I’ve discussed in my “Work From Home Success” series and related articles, independent work can be very rewarding but it is not without it’s drawbacks. Really, it’s not for everyone.

What really grinds my gears is when people don’t get what you do. It can be your fault that people don’t “get it” but, mostly, it’s due to how people are conditioned. For most of the world, if you do not have an office, tons of wealth, and massive popularity, taking your “thing” seriously is a tough sell. Let’s explore some of my personal sore points with WFHing (Working From Home)… Continue reading

SMSCaster.com, Triberr, And Borderline Spam: What Are Some Security Considerations?

If you’ve ever received a random text message or e-mail, you may not think much of it but what if it is tailored to your interests? That’s what this brief article is about. What are the risks and considerations involved with mass communication tools?

Triberr: A Retrospect

A few weeks back, I shared my first impressions of Triberr. I think the founders are doing a good job allowing partipants to opt-in and opt-out of communications. There are automatic filters and manual processes in place to keep spam to a minimum. Of course, if you don’t like being overwhelmed with push content, it may still seem spammy.

…But what is spam, really?

I’d like to note that, now that I’ve used Triberr more extensively, I can attest that it does not lack warmth. Tribe members interact with each other and help each other out. It’s a great way to meet key influencers, cool geeks, and clever innovators. Surely, some tribes focus purely on mass reach but most care about relevance and maintaining a focus (and tone) through their collective wide-scale communication efforts. You really feel that you’re sharing valuable and useful content, not merely saturating the market with sales pitches.

Are You A Spammy Offender?

To me, spam is any unsolicited content, even if it comes from friends. If there is no warmth or relevance to your communication, I’ll treat it as spam. If it’s repetitive without due cause or real value, it’s really bad spam.

People are doing whatever they can to avoid interruptions and noise. This is why traditional interrupt advertising is on a steady decline, no matter what so-called “experts” may say. We want messages, stories even, that matter to us. The rest is unwanted junk. Continue reading

Certifications And Service Guarantees: Worth The Money Or More Marketing Spin? (Empty Labels Suck)

Here are a few questions to consider as you read this article:

  • Do you treat your brand as a moniker or image, or does it truly embody your values and focus in work-life?
  • What makes you trust a brand: the promises, the image, or the experience?
  • Does quality stop at design and engineering?
  • What are we REALLY buying and selling, and what’s the value in it?

On The Mundane Chatter Podcast we discussed a slew of consumer-focused and other geeky topics on Episode 9. I was particularly intrigued by the whole “Fair Trade” market and the implications for small businesses, competition, and the consumer. Is it worth buying something labelled or certified a certain way? Allow me to rant a bit.

When I think about labels like THX, Organic, and Fair Trade, I think “marketing spin” (HINT: Spin Sucks) and “propaganda”. Value and proper execution/delivery, not so much. You’re paying more under a marketing pretense, a promise that is likely never delivered. I look at guarantees and certifications like any other line on advertised specifications and features: it’s more perceived value than anything else.. Mere labels (false attempts at dress to impress). Continue reading

Y3B’s 50th Post And My Plans As A Writer, Gamer, And Entrepreneur

Hey guys and gals: this is my 50th post on Y3B – WOOHOO!

Now it may not seem like much to the more prominent bloggers, writers, social media rockstars, and master promoters out there but I’m pretty darn excited! I started Y3B as a sort of hobby but, when I realized just how much I love blogging as an extension of my passions in writing, marketing, video games, and creative pursuits thereof, I saw the urgency in ramping up my efforts. Here I am, world!

Prepare for one of my usual long-winded ramblings but, please, let me know if you can relate!

Finding The Perfect Balance In Blogging: Making A Living While Remaining Authentic

One thing I’ve tried to do, almost to a fault, is provide very detailed articles with little or no “content borrowing”. This is a raw, sometimes chaotic, all-original blog and, if I may say so, it’s more than most of the junk out there. Sadly, I don’t have the numbers to show for it but that is my fault. The problem I’ve also discovered is that, in covering all the bases, I leave little left to discuss. Considering the aforementioned, a big focus for me and all “creative engineers” is engaging our audience in ongoing conversations (in other words, retaining our visitors).

Blogging, like many creative ventures (i.e. video game and web design), is a delicate balancing act. We are charged with the responsibility of managing expectations and delivering on our promises. Our readers come to us because they found something they like and to NOT continue building upon that is a wasted effort, whether you’re trying to monetize or just do it for the love and passion of the experience. To that end I say, “Why can’t you do both?” Continue reading

XBox Code of Conduct: Lessons in Customer Service and Parenting

Today I am blogging via mobile so this is going to be a mostly vanilla post (until I get a chance to polish it a bit, of course). My topic of choice today can fuel quite a bit of different blog entries. I wish to discuss Microsoft and their continued bad customer service. I’d also like to touch upon the concept of the video babysitter, a lazy strategy used by parents today.

Console gaming is mostly community-driven (after all, the hardware is obsolete the moment it hits store shelves) and this is especially so with XBox LIVE, arguably the best overall onling gaming service (at least on consoles). Unfortunately, console manufacturers fail to see that their customers are part of the service they offer. Microsoft has definitely missed this point by not doing right by their customers. The Red Ring of Death, Open Tray Error, and Code of Conduct are amongst many things hurting what could otherwise be an amazing, fully-engaging console experience.

While we can get into all the facets of Microsoft’s missed opportunities, let’s look at the Code of Conduct. It is dressed up as a way to preserve the integrity of the XBox LIVE online community but, instead, it only becomes nuisance to paying subscribers. More times than not, the people being reported are merely the ones defending themselves; meanwhile, the real offenders and troublemakers remain online harassing on XBox LIVE.

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“And Now For Something Completely Different” (NSFW?)

Funniest Video EVER – FOR REAL!!!

*** WARNING:  This content may be considered NSFW (Not Safe For Work) or NSFC (Not Safe For Church).  It’s a tad bit..  Suggestive..  Otherwise, it’s good, clean fun! 😉 ***

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything fun to the blog so I present to you the affectionately-named “Funniest Video EVER!!!” – this one actually IS entertaining (unlike the never-ending crap that ends up getting his on YouTube – SEE “Stanky Leg” or “Jerk Video”)! Richard Simmons meets “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” (possibly the best comedy/game show ever). Improv HEAVEN!! =oD

Tech Tips: Blackberry Upgrade Woes & Smartphone Tips

First and foremost, I would like to emphatically state that I am not, NOT an iPhone fanboy.  In fact, I pretty much detest all touch-screen phones.  That being said, I may get a free G1 as part of a the perks of a new gig I am doing so please don’t consider me a hypocrite.  I love Blackberry because, as many RIM (Research In Motion) enthusiasts will tell you, when you get a smartphone you either buy a toy or you buy a tool.  The iPhone falls into the foremost and the Blackberry is definitely more in the latter category (BTW, as of 2010, I have a Blackberry 9700 and I love it.. No more pesky trackball!)

Of course, like with any powerful computing tool or data device, there are technical issues, hidden costs, and routine maintenance to be considered.  Blackberrys have become a lot more clunky as they have become more mainstream and loaded with bells-n-whistles.  The more capabilities you get, the more possible issues you introduce.  That’s just how the metaphorical cookie crumbles, it would seem.

All I can say is that I am a very happy Crackberry user.  My love affair with RIM started back in the PALM IIIx days, when Blackberrys were very simple and strictly business.  A client of mine, an investment/venture capital bank going by the acronym TWCO at the time, gave me a RIM mainly because they wanted a leash on me and couldn’t afford to pay me for all the work I did for them (go figure).  I knew it was a trick but, hell, what self-respecting tech geek will turn down a free gadget??  Certainly not I!

Sleek, streamlined, and seksy..  Blackberry is business power with style!

Sleek, streamlined, and seksy.. Blackberry is business power with style!

Well, I am here to provide fair warning to anyone considering getting any sort of Blackberry or smartphone.  If you are not particularly tech savvy and you do not have spare money laying around, stick to a pseudo-smartphone (something that your carrier does not require to get an expensive “data package” with perhaps).  My Blackberry, as resilient as it has been (it survived an extended dip in the pool back when I lived in San Diego), finally crapped out and through no fault of my own… Continue reading