Guardian fight moves on

THE LONG campaign to stop the Guardian stealing freelances' copy is beginning to take effect. At an informal discussion with the paper in December, General Secretary John Foster and Carol Lee, co-ordinating the campaign, got agreement from editor Alan Rusbridger that intimidation of freelances will stop.

"Following our meeting," Foster said, "the paper is still seeking copyright from freelances. We will be meeting Managing Editor Brian Whitaker to discuss a code of practice where this won't be necessary." He went on to say that "It does not seem reasonable to us that individual freelances should have to repeatedly argue the case for retaining copyright in their work when, under the 1988 Act, it's already theirs."

It is especially important that freelances do not sign away their copyright to the Guardian while the Code of Practice is being set up. Anyone who gets a demand for their copyright should contact Carol Lee on 0171-359 0651. The first written request to the Guardian to meet the NUJ for a discussion of copyright was sent last year by Jacob Ecclestone. This and subsequent letters received no reply.

Lee said: "The breakthrough may have been due to the amount of bad publicity the Guardian was getting because of its treatment of freelances." She added: "Jake's enthusiasm and experience helped get the project off the ground -- and a number of people have re-joined the union because of it."

BY Carol Lee

Jan/Feb 1998

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