A MEETING of freelance contributors to discuss the Independent onslaught on copyright was held at the City Pride pub near the newspaper's offices in Canary Wharf last month. Hearteningly, it was organised by the Independent chapel (NUJ organisation in the office) and chaired by Kate Simon, mother of chapel. Speakers included freelance chapel representative Tim Sanders, freelance organiser John Toner and Kevin Cooper, who is National Executive member for freelances. About 20 contributors attended, and around 35 more sent apologies and messages of support.
Many, used to working in isolation, found the solidarity of an actual meeting inspiring. Freelance organiser John Toner called it "an extremely worthwhile and encouraging meeting". He called on all freelances to respond to the letter from the Managing Editor, and suggested that the next step should be to write to The Independent seeking a meeting to discuss the rights letter.
"The Independent's rights grab is not only an attempt to get all rights from now on but it is also an attempt to get retrospective rights for all work already supplied." pointed out Kevin Cooper. "Therefore it is vital for all freelances for repudiate the Independent's rights grab letter."
It was also suggested that the more people who write back, the stronger the campaign will be. This could be particularly useful in terms of the next aim: the need for improving pay. A claim of 5% on rates, plus expenses for photographers, was agreed.
One likely outcome of the meeting is a network for Independent contributors, along the lines of the Guardian Freelances Network. More information on this in due course. Meanwhile, anyone interested in being in such a network, please contact John Toner by phoning the freelance office or email JohnT@nuj.org.uk, or contact Kevin Cooper - email email@example.com. And anyone wanting to see the NUJ draft response to the Independent letter should contact the freelance office.