Do You Need an NDA When You Hire a Freelance Writer?

freelance writer and client

A non-disclosure agreement, or NDA, is a legally binding contract. When a freelance writer signs one, he or she agrees not to disclose sensitive or proprietary information. Subsequently, if the writer breaches the NDA, the employer has legal recourse. It isn’t always necessary for businesses to require freelance writers to sign an NDA. However, doing so when you hire a freelance writer can help protect your proprietary information, if applicable.

Types of Sensitive Information

It’s easy to see how some information is so sensitive that it demands the use of an NDA, such as the top secret recipe for Coca Cola. Another example might be information pertaining to government contracts. However, even if the information isn’t classified, it can still be worth protecting with an NDA. A typical business might want to protect its list of customer emails from potential competitors, for example. Other types of sensitive information may include the following.

  • Schematics for a new, yet-to-be released app
  • Company financial records
  • Plans for a new marketing campaign
  • Ideas for a new invention
  • Manufacturing or engineering processes
  • Blueprints
  • Vendor lists

Benefits of NDAs

An NDA can bring you peace of mind when you hire a freelance writer. Even if you’re fairly confident that proprietary information wouldn’t leak out, it can be worth it to have an NDA in place. Additionally, you might think about an NDA even if you aren’t certain whether the information is worth protecting.

In the event that a writer leaks information, the NDA will provide pathways for legal recourse. You may decide that it’s worth pursuing a lawsuit if the breach of the agreement is serious and damaging. Or, you might prefer mediation or arbitration. Another option is to pursue a legal injunction, which you can do in addition to seeking compensation. This is a court order that requires the individual to cease leaking information. Whichever option you choose, you should make sure that the NDA specifically states that you have the right to pursue that particular course of action.

Features of NDAs

Legal documents can be fairly complicated, and NDAs are no exception. It’s generally in your best interests to have a lawyer draft the NDA. However, you may find some templates online that you can easily adapt to your needs. The average non-disclosure agreement will include the following elements:

  • Timeframe: The majority of NDAs don’t last indefinitely. It’s common for an NDA to be in place for five years. Or, you could specify that the NDA will remain in effect for as long as the freelance writer works for your company.
  • Protected information: Your NDA should specify which information must be kept confidential. It’s often assumed that a broad statement that includes all possible information would be most favorable for the company. But sometimes, this can actually be a hindrance, as it might affect a contractor’s ability to collaborate with your employees or other outside contractors who also have authorized access to the information. Therefore, specificity is preferable.
  • Obligations: The NDA should specify what the contractor can and can’t do with the protected information.
  • Resolution: The document should specify what will happen if a breach of the NDA occurs.

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