Contracts in question - we need info

THERE IS some good news on the copyright front. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) campaign on unfair contracts - fully supported by the NUJ - is gaining some traction. We need your help to move the campaign on - see box below.

Please help campaign for fair contracts

We need you to tell us of your experiences with contracts for use of your work, of attempts to impose contracts without negotiation, and of copyright infringements and plagiarism. Please go to

(Sorry for the delay in getting the survey online at the proper address - Ed.)

The Freelance understands that civil servants in the European Commission responsible for copyright are keen that any future review of European Authors' Rights law (affecting the copyright laws of the UK and Ireland) should include measures to strengthen the position of individual authors, including text and image journalists.

In mid-February the European Parliament released a study that it commissioned last year looking qualitatively at the way contracts are imposed on authors including reporters and photographers. The study concludes that "the digital economy is based on creative works by authors. A basic principle is that they should be associated in the exploitation of their works; they should be entitled to partake in the determination of the scope and forms of exploitation and receive a fair remuneration each time the economic value of their work is exploited."

Meanwhile we expect the European Commission to announce shortly that it is commissioning a more quantitative study - with numbers - of contracts that affect print authors.

And in Geneva we have found some international interest in looking at issues of fairness to authors. Several "developing" nations, advancing the agenda of a Famous Web Search Engine, are making proposals to widen the international law setting out circumstances in which your work can be used without permission. Having won an extension for these "exceptions" in favour of blind people, more than one diplomat went on in January to say that people who can see are now discriminated against.

The industrialised countries - notably the EU, US and Japan - have stated clearly that they are against this, and their representatives are suddenly interested in alternative topics of discussion. The EFJ is due to meet the Secretary-General of WIPO in May.

Immediate developments aren't so happy. The UK government has issued draft regulations on the licensing of orphan works and so-called "extended collective licensing" (ECL) and restricted comments only to whether they implement already-stated policy. Short version: the ECL regulations in particular are a logical mess and it's not clear whether they implement anything at all. And the European Commission has consulted - as noted above - on opening up debate on changing EU authors' rights law. We expect the mother of all lobbying cluster, er, thingies.

Last modified: 07 Mar 2014 - © 2014 contributors
The Freelance editor is elected by London Freelance Branch and responsibility for content lies solely with the editor of the time
Send comments to the editor: