New deals at the Guardian

THE NUJ has agreed improvements in the Guardian's standard licence for the first time since it was negotiated in 1999. The standard term for syndication rights has been reduced from one year exclusive to three months exclusive, and thereafter non-exclusive for the period of copyright. This means that after three months, the freelance can syndicate the work and Guardian Newspapers Ltd (GNL) will also be able to do so. The clause granting "lifting rights" to some non-UK papers has now disappeared. This was a particular bugbear for freelances.

Freelance organiser John Toner said: "We regard this as a major improvement for freelances, and this was endorsed without demur by the Freelance Industrial Council.

"GNL believe freelances will now see their income from syndication rising as a result of the removal of the 'lifting rights' clause."

John stressed that this is a minimum terms licence and its terms are voluntary. "The NUJ has not licensed members' work as it has not the power to do so. A freelance has the right to negotiate the terms of the licence each time he or she is commissioned. We recommend that members try to improve on these terms when they negotiate."

Some contributors expressed puzzlement, already having negotiated shorter periods of exclusivity for themselves. They should respond to the recent Guardian email on the new terms, pointing this out.

The original licence for text was agreed in 1999 after the NUJ ran a lengthy campaign against the Guardian's copyright grab. An inquiry organised by ACAS (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) found in favour of the NUJ and drafted the standard terms, which were then agreed by both sides.

John said he is still awaiting a response from GNL on the proposed photographers' licence.

  • And NUJ photographers are celebrating a non-earth-shattering victory after persuading the Guardian promotion department to remove a rights-grab clause from the terms of their latest photo competition, in association with Canon. They are now trying to track down the competition packager that is the source of this nonsense. For details see www.epuk.org
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