Online bankable

YOU CAN get paid when your articles are re-sold - so long as you haven't signed away all rights, of course. But newspapers' business models for their websites are changing: as the Freelance has been predicting since god was a girl, they're charging readers to access articles, even where they don't actually have the right. So a new battle looms.

But first the good news. A member reports that the Independent had licenced some articles to several US companies, including Northern Light. The latter in turn put their copyright sign on the articles and sold them to individuals on their "specials" pages. The articles also appeared in newspapers, which also claimed copyright.

For one article the member got paid less than for equivalent work three years earlier, which didn't go on the net. So the Indy's claim that the fee included the right to licence them was obviously false.

So the member went to Small Claims Court. At first the Indy was going to contest the case. But it backed down at the last minute and presented a cheque for ten times the article fee, doubled for the blatant infringement - except that the money was not, allegedly, for breach of copyright but "for commercial reasons".

The member "does not intend to work for the Independent again unless they cave in due to massive pressure from all freelancers who issue claims against them."

Now the bad news. The Independent has started selling individual archive articles to online readers on its own account. Readers pay £1 for 24 hours' access to one article. Anyone who thinks the paper is thereby selling something it doesn't own should get in touch with the Freelance Office at once.

The Guardian also started charging for access to selected parts of its website in July. And contributors are increasingly suggesting that the paper could manage syndication better, for its benefit and theirs. One reports that the Guardian sold the book rights in a piece for £25 - though photocopying rights alone on the resulting chapter have brought in over £1200 through ALCS. That rather suggests that the paper could have made at least a bit more money for itself, as well as for the author.

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