Each month – or as close to each month as is possible! – I try to introduce visitors to someone whose work contributes to the fields of freelancing, education, or science. The guest of honor this month, Cheryl Besenjak, took her dream of having her own small business and turned it into reality.
Cheryl is the Director of The Permissions Group, a small business that specializes in permissions and copyrights. Her firm deals in the day to day practical realities of getting permissions to use copyrighted materials.
Do you recall seeing pages, usually in small print at the end of a book, listing the names of authors, photographers, publishers, etc., whose work was cited in the book? This is just one example of permissions editing.
Every time you quote someone else's words, copy a photograph, or record someone else's music, you are legally required to obtain the copyright owner's permission. What many writers do not realize is that, unless copyright ownership has legally changed hands, the writer holds the copyright.
How does this affect you? Have you sent any e-mail from your home computer lately? Did you know that you own the copyright to that e-mail? Ever receive one of those jokes, 'feel good' letters, or funny stories that have a way of circulating endlessly around the Internet? Have you ever asked the sender if they have permission from the original author to send the material? Most people respond as though you are crazy! But those materials legally belong to someone and that someone has the right to be paid for his/her work.
Cheryl saw a need for businesses (and individuals) to track down copyright owners and acquire the necessary permissions for using their material. Cheryl responded to that need by starting her own business. But even when a person has a marketable idea, it takes a lot of hard work to start a business, nurture it, and have it grow; the failure rate of small businesses far exceeds the success rate.
So many times people will write and ask, "Should I become a freelancer? I really hate my job…." Since owning a small business is one form of freelancing, why don't you take a few minutes to read Cheryl Besenjak's first-hand account about the challenges she faces with her small business, The Permissions Group.
Click below to read Cheryl Besenjak's interview.
- Anne Wallingford
Click here for an Interview with Cheryl Besenjak, Director, The Permissions Group
Copyright Plain & Simple (Franklin Lakes NJ: Career Press, 1997)