IPC's at it again

CONTRIBUTORS to at least one IPC publication last week received "contracts" assigning all rights in all future work to the company. Many or most of these came with a slip stating that contributors could not be paid until the contracts were signed and returned.

That last bit is cack, as the Freelance is sure the courts from Small Claims upward would agree. New Scientist, at least, has a well-established routine of sending individual commissioning letters for even the smallest contribution. Where freelances choose to sign these, they are legally binding -- though IPC continues to add insult to injury by sending out clearly illegal cheques which purport to be additional contracts. There are also reports of IPC refusing to pay expenses for work supplied on the traditional First British Serial basis.

Jacob Ecclestone, while still Freelance Organiser, commented: "Don't sign. If you have any questions, fax the letter to the NUJ." That advice still stands.

In its defence, IPC says that it has raised freelance rates. Early discussions indicate that editors are prepared to take freelance contributions on a traditional First British Serial basis. But one mentioned a rate cut of £20 for each specific right which the freelance retains. This raises the logical problem that IPC is trying to obtain an infinite number of rights.

But IPC currently re-uses freelance work in up to five ways: New Scientist appears on the FT-Profile online database; the Planet Science website; a "push media" operation through the Microsoft Network; CD-ROM; and traditional on-paper syndication.

Even at the £400 per thousand rate for words reported in this issue's Rate for the Job, this would take the First British Serial rate for a 500-word piece back to what was being paid five years ago, and would mean a real rate cut for many or most IPC contributors.

If you regularly contribute words or pictures to IPC publications, please let the Freelance know who you are: -- fax your name and address 0171-278 1812 or send email. Please, if you can, also give the rates you were paid five years ago, last year and this year. A meeting of IPC contributors will be organised as soon as practicable.

  • Within Reach, the newsletter and "underground chapel" for trade union members in IPC's King's Reach Tower gulag, launches its World-Wide Web presence next week. Many members will be able to keep up to date with news on the company -- sometimes ahead of the directors -- from the discomfort of their own desks. Go to http://www.poptel.org.uk/nuj/withinreach/, where you will find news of the sale of IPC, announced a couple of days after the Freelance went to press.

  • Nov/Dec 1997

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