Photographers’ contract is a work of art

PHOTOGRAPHERS commissioned by the Arts Council will retain their rights under a contract that is a model of its kind.

Working with the Association of Photographers, the NUJ has negotiated a contract that it is happy to recommend. Talks began in July, after the two organisations had separately raised with the Arts Council the issue of the unacceptable terms on which they were commissioning photographers.

At that stage, the Arts Council used two forms: Form A took copyright from the photographer; Form B took a perpetual and non-exclusive licence. The former was for use when pictures of children and vulnerable adults were commissioned.

At an initial meeting, the Arts Council readily agreed that it should not seek copyright, but explained the need to protect children and vulnerable adults. Their first suggestion was an exclusive 10-year licence, but Freelance Organiser John Toner said the NUJ could not accept this.

After three months of exchanges, they finally agreed to the NUJ proposal that vulnerable people could be protected by the model release agreed between the photographer and a responsible adult.

The photographer and commissioner will agree a licence for use, covering how the images may be reproduced and the duration of the licence.

The photographer is free to agree a model release beyond the use required by the Arts Council, and to re-use the images within the terms of the release.

Said Toner: "This took longer than we initially expected, for the very laudable reason that the Arts Council takes seriously the need to protect children and vulnerable adults. When we convinced them that the model release is the key to this we made speedy progress.

"It was a pleasure to deal with the Arts Council, who understand that photographers have a right to retain their copyright and to be paid for re-use of their work. I wish others would follow their enlightened approach.

"I am grateful to Andrew Wiard for his helpful suggestions throughout."

The new contracts will carry the wording: "This contract was developed in partnership with the National Union of Journalists and the Association of Photographers."

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