A lone stand against rights grabs

A FREELANCE reports that they've just had an exchange with Lonely Planet about rights to freelance articles. The editor, although nice about it, couldnt have been blunter: they want 'em. All of 'em.

The explanation given is that the company needs to be able to repurpose stuff to survive. And the best way to do that, of course, is to repurpose stuff without having to pay the creators. Who doesn't like a bargain?

The freelance writer in question offered to draw up a contract that would protect their brand by restricting their own re-use of a work and give Lonely Planet the option to negotiate for secondary uses. But no: They want to own the work. That way they can use it in another magazine. Or in a Lonely Planet guide book. Or on a T-shirt. Or, if they're really lucky, sell it to a national tourist office to use as a visitor brochure for a fee many times what they paid the writer. (That one actually happened a while ago at a US magazine.)

Our correspondent told us they "didn't quite expect such bullying from the Beeb [BBC Worldwide, who own Lonely Planet]. Reminds me of when National Geographic did the same... organisations you'd think would be a bit different."

The writer who freelances for Lonely Planet concluded that "the bottom line from the editor seems to be:

"We understand that some writers don't like it, but enough give us what we want so that we don't have to deal with people like you. So has it always been among freelances, and despite my best efforts here and yours there, thus will it always be, I fear."

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