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Media Release: 4 August 2009

Photographers challenge Guardian rights grab

The NUJ is calling on photographers to demonstrate for their creative rights outside the Guardian offices on 1 September.

The protest is in response to Guardian News & Media's announcement that they will no longer pay for re-use of pictures commissioned from that date.

In a letter to contributors dated 28 July, Managing Editor Chris Elliott stated that the company's standard terms for commissioned photography shall include "a non-exclusive, perpetual licence to re-use commissioned photography in its products and services without further payment."

NUJ Freelance Organiser John Toner said: "At a time when press photographers are suffering severe hardship as a result of the economic downturn, it comes as a further blow to be informed that GNM demands unlimited re-use of photographs free of charge.

"Re-use is not free use."

The announcement follows on from GNM's talks with their contract photographers, who are already resisting moves to end payment for re-use. The Guardian NUJ Chapel has agreed to represent the contractees in a collective grievance - the agreed procedure for raising concerns about employment practices. This was submitted to the company yesterday (Monday) but was immediately rejected by managers.

This latest proposals will affect hundreds of photographers in the UK and further afield.

John added: "We will be working with the British Photographic Council to co-ordinate a mass response to GNM's rights-grab. We urge GNM management to enter into meaningful negotiations."

NUJ President James Doherty, who last week chaired a meeting of freelance members facing a similar rights grab by the Herald group of newspapers, said: "It's obvious that proprietors are determined to put the squeeze on freelance journalists in their continued quest for profits.

"For years, freelances have borne the brunt of cuts in the media industry and this further attempt to undermine photographer's rights is tantamount to legalised theft.

"I urge all journalists to stand and fight both GNM and Newsquest's attempts to steal not only our rights but our future livelihoods."

The demonstration will take place at 9.30am at Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1.

  • For more information, contact John Toner on 07710 314593 or Stephen Pearse on 07921 700 110.
Last modified: 04 Aug 2009 - © 2009 contributors
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