August 1995

The Rate for the CyberJob

AN NUJ working group has issued draft fees recommendations for electronic publication. Feedback on these is welcome, so that the best possible advice can be incorporated in the next edition of the Freelance Fees Guide.

The commonest case at present is where words or pictures are originally produced for print media, and then re-used in digital form. It is important that the recommended fees are not for sale of copyright, but for a license to re-use the freelance's material.

Usually, the license granted should be non-exclusive -- that is, you should retain the right to license it (later) to other clients.

  • For non-exclusive re-use on a World-Wide Web site, the working group recommends that freelances should charge at least either a one-time fee of 50% of the original fee or 50% of gross income from consumers.

    The one-time fee may be more practical at the moment. But, as "tagging" of articles develops, the percentage of gross may be preferable.

    Though, in the absence of tagging, few publishers make any direct income so far, Web sites increase their advertising revenue and promote their wares.

  • For non-exclusive re-use on a pay-as-you-read database, similar rates apply for now.

But many database sellers charge around £4 per 1000 words per reader, while claiming that they cannot trace individual sales; so a higher one-time fee may be justified.

  • (Editor's addition:) It is wise, given the speed of chance in the industry and especially if you accept a rate lower than these recommendations, to grant licenses for re-use for one year, re-negotiable after that.

    It is important for the sake of clarity that each right licenses should be listed separately from the basic fee on any commissioning form or contract. For example: 1000 words first UK print edition, £400; re-use of same on Web for one year only, £100.

  • For non-exclusive re-use on a CD-ROM, the working group proposes at least £50 per item.

Where material is produced specifically for an electronic medium, it is equally important to specify what use is licensed and for how long it is exclusive.

  • For first publication on the World-Wide Web, the group proposes 150% of the price for a comparable UK paper publication.
  • For first publication in a UK CD-ROM, go for at least the price for a comparable UK paper publication.
  • For editorial work on multimedia -- for example Web page sub-editing and HTML design or Acrobat authoring, the group proposes £40 per hour for commercial and £30 per hour for non-commercial clients.

This is a draft. Your feedback is essential to ensure that all members get what their skills deserve. Report and comment on rates here.

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