Nov 1996

Paying us pays off shock!

"SINCE WE CHANGED our contract and started sharing income through the Authors Registry, we've been able to acquire electronic rights for every original piece in the magazine. We seem to have gotten rid of a big headache."

That's the conclusion of Harper's vice president and general manager Jeanne Dubi, reported in the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) newsletter.

"Before," Jeanne lamented, "some writers and agents allowed us [electronic] rights and others didn't." Publishers claim that it's "impracticable" to share income from electronic publications with us, the humans who make it possible.

Jeanne Dubi is honest enough to admit that it's keeping track of what Harper's can and can't legally use in the new media which is really impracticable. Please refer all publishers you come across to the wisdom of Jeanne.

In August the Authors Registry sent out its first $150,000 in payments to its members, most of whom are US journalists. The Registry aims in time to become an automatic electronic rights clearance agency. Apart from back-payments negotiated with Harper's, however, the money it's distributing now comes from the Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society here in quaint olde Britain. The ALCS, in turn, collects most of that from payments for commercial photocopying.

Don't miss out!

The ALCS quite likely has money waiting for you, too. It has tens of thousands of pounds sitting in its accounts, waiting for journalists to identify themselves. All NUJ freelance members should enrol now. Please complete and return the form distributed with the last Freelance. If you have lost that form, please call or fax the Freelance Sector office on 0171-278 1812 and leave your postal address to get another copy.

We hope to have news soon of ideas for extending the reach of the ALCS/NUJ collaboration into the new electronic media.

In the near future, says Microsoft president Bill Gates, readers with computers will be able to call up individual articles and photos and pay a few pennies for each.

What Bill predicts, he has the power to make happen. What we predict is that a portion of that charge should go to the photographers and writers. If we organise, we have the power to make that happen.

Getting as many members as possible signed up is the first and essential step -- and, once more, there's likely to be money in it for you, now.

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