[Freelance]

What will the Guardian deal mean?

IF YOU are a freelance contributor to the Guardian or Observer, the effects of the copyright inquiry will kick in when the NUJ has agreed minimum fees with the Guardian.

Will I keep my copyright?
Whatever happens, you keep it.
What if I have already signed away my rights?
You will have the right to sign new standard licence terms instead.
Does that mean I can sell my stuff where I like?
Yes, except where there is a conflict of interest. For instance, if the Guardian syndicates it to a newspaper in Sydney, Australia, you can't simultaneously sell it to a rival in the same circulation area. The fee (still to be negotiated) will reflect this restriction.
How do I know if there is a conflict of interest?
You check with the Guardian Syndication Department. If there is a dispute, contact the NUJ.
I have a special interest in an overseas country where the Guardian syndicates stuff. That restriction isn't acceptable to me. What do I do?
The new deal specifically allows for special arrangements in such cases. If you get into a dispute, there is a procedure to sort it out amicably -- but make sure issues are raised early on.
Will my fees go up?
For a one-off "spot sales" syndication you will receive 50 per cent of the proceeds. But in most cases you will receive a fee that is split between the original newspaper publication and the standard range of other uses. The NUJ and the Guardian will begin negotiations soon to settle the level and proportions of this fee. And every year GNL will provide information on revenues so that fees can stay in line with the growth of electronic media and syndication.
What if I can do better than the minimum fee?
Those who have better arrangements can and should hang on to them. Plus all standard licence fees negotiated above the minimum will be subject to future improvements negotiated in line with increased revenues.
What about my moral rights?
Unlike many publishers, GNL won't ask you to waive these rights -- to a byline and to reasonable treatment of your material. More than that, the publisher will assert your moral rights on your behalf -- the first time this has been agreed with a newspaper.
What about pictures, cartoons and illustrations?
They are not covered. In most cases creators have satisfactory arrangements already. But if you have a problem, tell the NUJ and we will try to sort it out.
It sounds fine, but how can I be sure it won't backfire on me?
Other than in "emergency situations", GNL promises that commissioning editors, etc, will discuss and agree the licence terms before the copy is produced. Variations on standard terms should be agreed in writing, in advance.
And what happens next?
The NUJ will show this example of good practice to other publishers such as the other national newspapers, IPC, Time Out, recalcitrant divisions of Emap and -- biggest of all -- the BBC. And we will put pressure on them to follow this lead and start being fair to freelances.

Main report


Mar/Apr 1999
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