Recently i fell into an arguement with a fellow apartment dweller in my block. She claimed that if i didn't stand up for my rights i was letting the entire building down. My stance was that i didnt give a shit either way as i had other things to worry about than getting a window fixed.
But by applying this thinking to things that are important to me i can see where she's coming from.
Signing a 'work for hire' agreement or committing to a free pitch not only devalues your work and your ideas.... it devalues the entire industries work and ideas. 'Work for hire' is an American contract that most creatives are made to sign transferring all copyright and intellectual property rights of their concepts to the client. The fact that many people out here sign such contracts tells you a lot about the American creative industries in general. By signing this contract you are completely negating the entire potential value in your creations... you are selling yourself short... and you are selling the industry short.
Back in England, where i come from, we have these things called intellectual property rights for artists, photographers, and musicians that protect your creations from such corporate plundering. What you create is a commodity and should be sold as thus. When a client is paying you an hourly rate they are not paying for your concept but merely for your time. Your concept comes with its own price for buyout or for license and to give up this copyright for free devalues everything you do for a living.
Free pitching is another concept that devalues your work, the industry, and even society. By submitting a free pitch you are sending a message to clients everywhere that your work is almost worthless... that you will do anything for some dollars... and that essentially everything you do is garbage (its free right?). You are opening yourself up to copyright theft, to corporate bullying, and generally pervading the idea that free pitching is an industry standard.
If everyone refused to sign 'work for hire' contracts and refused to pitch without compensation for their time the entire client industry would be without creative work. This would force them into re-working 'work for hire' and free pitching.