Baleful Bauer

BAUER Publishing has hit freelances with what has been described as one of the most outrageous contracts ever issued in the UK.

Not only does it seek assignment of all rights and a waiver of moral rights, but it also insists on an unsustainable warranty clause and a complete transfer of the company's liability as publisher to the freelance.

NUJ freelance organiser John Toner has written to the company, explaining why the contract is unacceptable and seeking discussions. He said: "This is one of the more outrageous contracts I have seen from a publisherin this country. To grab the freelance's copyright for a one-off fee is bad enough, but to expect the freelance to then indemnify the publisher simply adds potentially ruinous injury to injury."

The contract also expects the freelance to grab the rights in the work of any third party and then transfer those rights to Bauer.

Toner explained that this would clearly apply to the "real-life" magazines, where an important part of the photographer's job is obtaining "collect" pictures. Bauer now wants the subject to transfer ownership of the "collect" to the photographer who will, in turn, transfer ownership to Bauer.

"Where is our industry heading," John asks, "when publishers expect people to give up the copyright in their own cherished pictures?" The contract applies to photographers, writers, videographers and designers. The NUJ Freelance Office has prepared a draft response to the contract, and is in the process of bringing freelances together to resist: contact the office if you do work for Bauer.

The quickest way to do this is to complete the form at www.londonfreelance.org/linkup

  • An afterthought at the Branch meeting on 14 July: "collect" photos will include wedding pictures by professional photographers - in which the photographers may well have the copyright (while licensing the happy couple to distribute copies to friends and family). So in this and similar cases the contract would be asking news photographers to ask individuals to assign rights in photos in which they don't actually hold the relevant rights.
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