COMPUTER publisher VNU is at it again. It's "offering" new contracts to freelances. These demand that writers hand over all rights in their work - including their notes, research and raw interviews. They demand that writers bear the costs of any lawsuits arising from published work - having first, as you'll by now be expecting, demanded the right to change that work without consultation.
VNU contributors are upset enough about these terms. Then the management pile on a demand that journalists accept no gifts whatsoever - which presumably means that if a software company lays on a charabanc into deepest Berkshire, any hacks writing for VNU will have to explore the delights of Winnersh Triangle train station (formerly Rainy Bottom Halt).
And, as is traditional, adding insult to injury, VNU wants absolute exclusivity forever in all stories. Since VNU has bought the former Ziff computer titles in the UK, there aren't that many other places for computer hacks to turn - and one of those, Reed Business, is reported to be readying the thumbscrews too.
Responses are being drafted. The Freelance hears rumours that VNU is threatening editors with disciplinary procedures if they use non-compliant freelances after 1 January. So we have a few weeks to show them that such a policy is likely to lead to empty pages. All this fuss against grabbing authors' rights started with VNU in 1995, didn't it?
If you write for any of VNU's publications, please email your details to Pamela Morton, pamelam@ nuj.org.uk or just fill them in at www.gn.apc.org/media/linkup.php.