Spring is sprung, the suits is riz...

THERE'S SOMETHING about the impending springtime that puts a special bounce in a publisher's lawyer's step. The heretoforementioned suits clearly see it as a special time for bouncing you out of your rights...

The Evening Standard recently wrote a second sweet missive to freelance writers. In full:

As you know, many newspapers now publish not just in the old print sense but repeat and store their publishing in different forms electronically and in multi-media formats, e.g. on the Internet and CD-Rom.

We are about to enter this multi-format publishing in the next few months. So your contribution to our newspapers may appear in these new media as well as print.

This is just to let you know that our commissions now will be offered and accepted on the basis that full copyright shall belong to Associated Newspapers Ltd.

Are they by any chance in need of some sub-editors there upstairs? NUJ Deputy General Secretary Jacob Ecclestone responds:

If you get one of these letters do not ignore it. Write to Ms Arnold and point out that the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 does not allow Associated Newspapers to obtain your copyright in this way. Ask her to specify precisely what further use she (and Lord Rothermere) intends to make of your work and offer to supply a licence for reuse at a modest fee.

Rothermere's other organ, the Daily Mail, wrote to photographers a couple of weeks ago outlining "a simple and straightforward [payment] plan, effective from 1 March 1997... Commissions (Exclusive Assignment £150; Orders (Not Exclusive) £100. The copyright of all commissioned pictures will belong to the Daily Mail..." For some reason the word "Lebensraum" springs to mind.

And the Times and its Sunday have thundered non-negotiably that from 1 March they plan to pay a flat £45 for transmission of ordered pictures.

James MacManus and Anthony Bambridge declare themselves "prepared, indeed willing, to listen to your views about inclusive deals to cover all picture costs, including commissioning, search fees, transmission, space rates, syndication, on-line usage and electronic storage". So take them at their word, and tell them: no.

Mar/Apr 1997

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