Copyright campaign - Times gets with it, a bit

THE TIMES has sent a most interesting document to some contributors. It states that they retain copyright in their words. And, this time, this is more than a face-saver: it gives writers "50% of net identifiable revenue from any syndication and sales", and 60% if the paper wanting to re-use the piece contacted the journalist.

And the language it uses about authors' right to defend the integrity of their work is much more reasonable than before. The Times reserves the right to "reasonable and necessary changes to the Material to appear in the newspaper's different forms referred to above". That lawyer's "above" points to the main problem. The Times wants a license to use work in all versions of the title, existing or future. The Freelance assumes that they intend this to include database sales of articles. The dot.gone phenomenon notwithstanding, the practice of selling archive articles to individual readers for $2 a pop is likely to be an increasingly important part of newspapers' business. And the NUJ still recommends you go for a share - like half.

Another question is over syndication. The contract specifies that the Times gets the exclusive right to arrange sales - though there's a hint that writers who already have deals can be accommodated. Please send in any variants you've received, and notes on discussions (in confidence,of course).

The fact that News International, which (as far as we know) invented the "you keep copyright but we demand a license to use and abuse it everywhere for ever", has moved this far looks like a sign that our copyright campaign is getting somewhere. See here for much more on that.

Last modified: 25 October 2001 - © 2001 contributors
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