July 1996

Paragon's virtues

INTERNET PUBLISHER Paragon has agreed to pay Birmingham member Bruce Tober a 100% mark-up on his original fee, after using his articles without permission in its (printed) World-Wide Web Directory. This comes just after it issued freelance contributors with the wooliest-yet variant on an "all rights contract" -- and got a frosty response from all those contacted by the Freelance.

Bruce discovered the Directory when he wandered into a newsagent to browse magazines, looking for outlets. As he told the Freelance, "If I hadn't walked into Smiths, I'd never have known the publication existed, let alone I was in it."

As the Freelance went to press, he was waiting for his cheque. This is not an uncommon experience with Paragon. As another member responded to its rights letter, "It was a little unfortunate that your letter arrived at a time when Paragon owes me £2144.35. Not to put too fine a point on it, Paragon currently does not own any rights in anything I've written, including material which you have already published." A cheque followed, smartish.

Paragon's new twist on "all rights" is the "concession" that it will not credit writers unless it has their permission. It also asks for the right to change articles without consulting, and for writers to bear the costs of legal actions against the (changed) article. As the member concluded: "If I asked you for a guarantee that you would publish my work verbatim and for an indemnity against the consequences of your publishing it, I imagine that your lawyers would (very properly) advise you to tell me to seek professional advice more of a medical than a legal nature."

This member is currently talking with editors, asking what specific rights they actually need. He last year negotiated a £20 per thousand supplement for articles appearing on the World-Wide Web. Paragon has so far declined to pay Bruce for such use, saying that his articles aren't on the Web. Maybe, but have they been?

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