Don't sign the future away to collect for past use
Copy right cash coming
FREELANCES are soon likely to see - finally - a
major benefit of retaining their copyright. But there's a catch to
beware of. Don't be tempted to sign away future rights
when a publisher waves a cheque for use of past work!
After many requests the union's
Freelance Industrial Council
met with the Newspaper Licencing Agency.
This is an organisation set up by the newspaper publishers to
collect payment for "secondary uses" of material.
The money the NLA has collected so far is for photocopying
of newspaper articles in, for example, commercial research
libraries. The NLA charges institutions for a licence to make
copies and surveys a sample to see what they actually copy.
Then who is due what is worked out statistically.
What, we asked the NLA, about the part of that that should
go not to the publishers, but to freelances who retain their
rights? Good point, said the NLA. It's coming.
And indeed several members have received letters from the
Financial Times: "We have a cheque for £500
waiting for you..." Oh good! "But..."
Oh dear... "But we notice you still haven't assigned all
rights in your work. If you'd just like to sign the enclosed,
we can send the cheque."
This, of course, is not utterly legal. The money belongs
to the journalist. Period.
And members who've challenged it have indeed received their
cheques, without preconditions. So they'll be getting more later.