Farringdon farrago

FREELANCES are reporting more incidents of bullying over copyright by the Guardian. One wrote to the UK Press Gazette saying:
Photo of kids gurning

FUTURE GUARDIAN contributors reconsider their career plans after receiving a typically encouraging message from management.

"As a long-term freelance for the Guardian I have received a phone call only this week telling me my work won't be used by the paper unless I assign copyright. I also know I'm not alone in this. It has happened to three or four other colleagues in the last few weeks."

NUJ officials are writing to editor Alan Rusbridger at the paper's Farringdon Road HQ to ask him to put a stop to this. Rusbridger had previously given an assurance in print -- also in UKPG -- that there would be no more bullying of freelances.

Talking to a meeting of Guardian and Observer freelances on 24 March, playwright and veteran campaigner Alan Plater said that authorship of work -- copyright -- is a matter of principle as well as money. "It's for people to decide which matters most," he said, "but where we're being asked to hand over our copyright for no money, then it's no kind of deal." London Freelance Branch Chair Ros Bayley reminded the meeting forcefully of the bigger picture: "We are the poor people of Europe when it comes to treatment of authorship..." she said. "Our sister unions are fighting to get us the kind of rights they have. It's terribly important that authors' rights in Europe are not eroded because we in Britain accept so little. The Guardian, of all papers, must not be allowed to get away with this."

May 1998
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