My writing and teaching services, and all activity on this site — and the sites listed on the My Other Sites page — are the legal products of my sole proprietorship. That means I, James Don Cudd — living in (and working from) an apartment I share with my wife in Sweeny, Texas, USA — take full legal and ethical responsibility for them.
Below are the legal and ethical guidelines for how I conduct business. Please note that I don’t like consulting lawyers, so no lawyer had a hand in writing these policies. I can’t say they are a “legal,” but they do give a good idea of what it might be like to do business with me (something I hope will be a mostly pleasant experience). I present them, mostly, for the benefit of those who are trying to figure out how I might be of service. — June 18, 2015
Code of Ethics
For all matters not addressed specifically below, I subscribe to the Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists. It is important to note that I am not a member of the SPJ, but I have been in years past. I am not sure exactly when I let my membership lapse, but I decided in 2003, as the society was ignoring my requests for help in the situation described here, that I would not likely sign up again. I remain a supporter of the group’s code of ethics, but I found enforcement efforts frustratingly lacking in the one case I tried to bring to its attention.
I reserve the right to offer (or not offer) space for sale to advertisers on all websites I own. The types of advertising I sell, as well as rates, will vary.
I will not accept advertising orders from companies or individuals I believe to be operating illegally or unethically, but I do not necessarily endorse the companies and individuals who advertise on my site. Likewise, obscene photographs and language will not be allowed in ads on my site.
I will not accept advertising that promotes a political candidate or cause. Rather, I encourage campaign leaders to include me on their press release lists: I may write news articles about their activities at my discretion.
All advertising will be clearly labeled as such.
Some of the advertising on my site will be sold and managed by third parties such as Google Adwords. Though I have relinquished control of some advertising to these third parties, I still require that their ads meet the standards in this policy. A breach of these policies by their ads will likely be grounds for me removing all the company’s advertising from my sites.
I strongly discourage potential advertisers from buying space on my sites as an effort to influence editorial content.
My websites may include advertising links to products and services I (or contributors to my sites) recommend or review, and I may receive a commission for sales made through those links. In such cases, commission agreements will be clearly announced in text immediately surrounding the ad.
Except in rare instances in which I anticipate that public comments will be damaging, I open all posts on my sites to commentary from readers. Though I do ask all commenters for their names (and email addresses that are not posted publicly) I offer no assurance that the names are accurate. Likewise, I take no responsibility for the posts.
I will delete all comments that my spam filter assures me are not legitimate, and I reserve the right to delete comments that I believe are spam which have made their way past the filter.
I will delete comments I deem libelous, off the topic, obscene or in poor taste. But readers should understand that I cannot possibly read every comment posted on all of my sites. I encourage readers who find a particular comment offensive to contact me about it and request a removal, but I do not promise that I will remove it. On the rare instances in which I delete or edit a comment, I will make public note of that action and my reasons for it.
I encourage links to relevant websites in the comment section of all articles, but I will likely delete posts that have more than 2-3 links or that have irrelevant links.
Authors (including me) are strongly encouraged to respond to comments posted on their stories.
These same policies apply to comments appearing on social media sites to which I have control. It is important to remember and realize that, once a particular article is shared on someone else’s social media sites, I have no control over the comments.
I reserve the right to invite (or hire) others to contribute to my site. And I will occasionally post material that has been submitted to me unsolicited. Though I do ghost writing for others, I will not allow ghost-written articles on my site. All contributors will be identified — with links to biographical and contact information — in a byline at the top of the articles or content they produce. Because I may edit contributors’ work before posting it on my sites, I take co-responsibility for articles posted on my sites under someone else’s name. Contributors retain copyrights to their work, except for the one-time license granted to me to use the work on my sites.
Conflicts of Interest
I will divulge any potential conflict of interest I may have that could keep me from offering fair treatment to the subjects of my articles.
Corrections and Resolution of Complaints
I strongly urge all who have a complaint, or just a correction to make, about an article on my site to please contact me. Likewise, I encourage clients who hire my services to let me know quickly if they are not satisfied. In all cases, I will make strong efforts to correct my short comings quickly (and publicly, as necessary) and make amends for my errors. But that does not mean I will always agree a complaint is valid. I such cases, I will defer to my understanding of God’s word in The Bible.
Billing and Collection Practices
All freelance writing, teaching, and advertising agreements will be negotiated separately. Some will be more formal than others, depending upon the clients/employer’s needs and my comfort level with the transaction.
Generally, for jobs involving $300 or less, I ask for payment immediately upon completion of the job to the client’s satisfaction. For larger jobs, I ask for a negotiated amount in advance, followed by immediate payment in full immediately upon completion of the job to the client’s satisfaction. In some cases involving long-term assignments, I send invoices, payable immediately, on agreed upon days as the assignment progresses. And, in still other cases, I am agreeable to following the client (or employer’s) standard procedures for paying contractors and/or staff.
My preference for collecting is via PayPal to my email address email@example.com. But I am happy to accept payment by other methods as well. (Wire transfers, checks, automatic bank deposit, and even hand-delivered cash.) For all methods other than PayPal, I generally ask that clients bear any expense for the transaction.
No matter the case, if a client’s account is overdue by more than 14 days, I reserve the right to refuse all future work and to stop any work in progress. And, clients whose accounts fall more than 30 days overdue risk me deciding upon legal action.
I don’t live lavishly, but a few times in my life, people have assumed I make much more money than I do. And this has led to unnecessary discord in our relationships. If you are concerned about how much money I make or how I spend my money, please know that I am probably happy to disclose financial details to you. All you have to do is ask, and we’ll take it from there.
I retain copyright to all material on this site. If you would like to quote from it as part of legal fair use, please be my guest. If you would like to license it for use on your own website or publication, please just contact me. I’m sure we can work something out, and I might not even ask you for money.
But if you plan to steal my material and use it without my permission in your own publication or website — even if its a non-profit operation — please know that’s not okay. I take strong objection to stuff like that. Last I heard, the minimum civil fine for copyright violation in Texas was $750. If I find my stuff in your publication illegally, I’ll probably send you a letter asking for that much in exchange for my agreement to not sue you. Oh yeah, you’ll probably have to quickly remove the stuff from your site, too.
I do a lot of writing work for clients whose names I don’t even know (and they don’t know my name either). And I’m active on several websites that allow students from across the world to connect with me anonymously as a tutor.
So, I’ve just made it a practice to keep all of my clients entirely confidential — even the ones who I know. The exceptions to this are cases in which the client publishes my byline on top of my work. In those cases, I am not afraid to shout to the world that I do work for that client.
Site User Privacy
Anyone who contacts me privately, hires me for a project, or buys goods and services from my sites can expect that I won’t share their names or contact information with anyone other than employees or contractors I may hire. It is possible that I will share anonymous information about the communication publicly (as in a blog article about an interesting email), but I will not reveal the person’s identity without his or her consent.
Anyone who uses my sites to publicly share their name and contact information assumes all applicable risk. I promise not to exploit their information, but I can’t promise that my sites’ readers will be likewise inclined.
I don’t generally find that mass emails are effective, so I don’t generally use them. But, if you give me your email address, phone number or other contact information, please realize that I may use it to contact you about something that may or may not be related to your original contact with me. (But, again, the contact from me will not likely be one of those annoying mass emails.)