Copyright Treatment of Freelance Work in the Digital Era
Computer & High Technology Law Journal, Vol. 19, p. 38, 2002
74 Pages Posted: 25 Mar 2010 Last revised: 13 May 2014
Date Written: 2002
More than three centuries ago, Thomas Brown, a graduate of Oxford, wrote about the debt-ridden fate of London hack writers. Patron-less, they wrote for money. As Philip Pinkus details in his elaborate study of the colorful and skillful Grub Street writers, “there were arid moments when they could not squeeze a shilling from their publisher or an ounce of credit from the tavern-keeper.” Whilst their works have been at times cast as mere “doggerel” as they were not the Swifts or Popes of the era, the seventeenth century hacks revealingly dispel the dire condition of the common writer. Writing in destitute times, these writers deliberately chose subjects, which appealed to their readers, from politics to thorny themes like marriage. And although hacks like Thomas Brown led austere lives, they still dared to dream and aspired for something better. Today, Thomas Brown is the twenty-first century freelance writer. In part because they are not the Rushdies or Kings of our times, freelancers illustrate the current plight of the aspiring writer as they are subject to similarly unfavorable economic, social, and legal conditions.
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