The video addresses the issue of “on spec” work, which most creative types have been asked to do by people and companies that can well afford to pay. The most egregious and high profile of these offenders is probably The Huffington Post, but there are many many more. Some of the lines I love the most from the video:
“Here is my Request for Proposal (RFP). You give me designs on spec, then we’ll see if I like the finished product, and maybe I’ll pay for the build.”
“You guys could make me a spec breakfast, and if I enjoy it, I’ll make you guys my ROR – restaurant of record.”
“So I’m going to teach you how to do stuff, then you own my intellectual property?”
If all this sounds patently absurd and laughable, know that this is what most creatives face on a daily basis. I have lost track of the number of “Work for Hire” and “On Spec” contracts I’ve been ask to sign. The assumption is that my would be employers are doing me a favor. They seem to believe they deserve to have all rights to my work – work by the way that is the result of 30+ years of experience, research and a contact list that took me decades to build. They believe this because they can, because this has become standard operating procedure in publishing. And, with the advent of internet publishing, it has only gotten worse.
I think the video does a brilliant job of making the case for doing away with on spec work, but let me add one more thing. Creativity is probably the most precious ability human beings possess. If we fail to reward it, or worse yet tell those who have committed themselves to exploring and expressing their creativity that they don’t deserve to be paid until they have auditioned, or be grateful for the chance to work for free, then we are doing the entire human race a HUGE disservice.
No new discovery. breakthrough idea or revolutionary solution has ever come from creative people being afraid to take risks, not making enough to meet their basic needs, or thinking inside the box. As a species, we need our storytellers – writers, poets, artists, singers, actors, dancers, etc. – to help us make sense of our world and find solutions to the many and pressing challenges we face.
I think Ursula K. LeGuin said it best in her 2014 National Book Award speech, “I think hard times are coming when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine some real grounds for hope. We will need writers who can remember freedom. Poets, visionaries—the realists of a larger reality.”
To learn more about me and my creative work, visit: https://jenaball.com