Freelancers to protest against Guardian Media

Freelance photographers should demonstrate outside of The Guardian’s offices against the newspaper’s plan to stop paying them for re-using their pictures.

Calling all media freelancers, the National Union of Journalists urged the protest on September 1, when Guardian News & Media will scrap repeat fees for photos.

Freelancers at the group, which owns The Observer and, were told that payment every time it uses one of their images would end under fresh cost-cutting.

Its terms for photographs it commissions will therefore include “a non-exclusive, perpetual licence to re-use commissioned photography in its products and services without further payment.”

This could result in some freelance photographers losing up to 30 per cent of their income, according to estimates the newspaper cited by the NUJ’s freelance organiser John Toner.

The union will work with the British Photographic Council to co-ordinate a mass response to The Guardian’s “rights grab,” Mr Toner said, adding; “Re-use is not free use.”

NUJ president James Doherty, who is facing the Herald group of newspapers over its clawback of freelancers’ rights, said contributors were feeling the squeeze of profit-hungry proprietors.

“For years,” he said, “freelancers have borne the brunt of cuts in the media industry and this further attempt to undermine photographer's rights is tantamount to legalised theft.”

But the publishers of The Guardian have taken issue with the union’s wording, insisting in a news editorial that it was not engaged in a freelancers’ “rights grab.”

It pointed out that photographers’ copyright and syndication rights, their key generator of income, would not be affected by the move, in spite of concern from the NUJ.

The union said freelancers who want to protect their rights today, and their livelihoods in the future, should be at Kings Place, 90 York Way, London, at 9.30 am on Tuesday September 1 to demonstrate.


6th August 2009

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