Sign up for authors’ rights in Europe

PHOTOGRAPHERS in Switzerland are resisting publishers' attempts to impose contracts that allow unlimited use of pictures for one fee, and want you to sign their petition.

Under Swiss law photographers cannot "assign" rights in their pictures - but publishers are trying to get the same sort of effect as UK-style assignment. An alliance of photographers' organisations is petitioning that: usage rights belong to authors - publishers must stop demanding buyouts for zero francs; the principle is: pay for each use; and anyone who wants journalism of the highest quality must pay fees that make it possible for freelances to earn a living.

The union Impressum, a member of the alliance and of the International Federation of Journalists, explains that "various publishers want to make freelances concede extensive usage rights without extra payment, for example the right to multiple usage including uses outside the publication for which the picture was commissioned and created... and to exchange pictures and articles freely among themselves and to publish in different media." See below for a link to the petition - and sign it, please.

Meanwhile in Germany, such broad contracts have been ruled illegal. On 31 July the district court in the city of Rostock struck down all-uses contracts which the Nordkurier group had tried to impose. The district court in Hamburg has also issued an injunction against Bauer Achat KG.

On 29 September the the WAZ media group agreed with the Deutsche Journalisten-Verband (German Journalists' Union) that it would abandon a contract clause that would have forced freelance photojournalists and journalists in the travel newsroom to accept the re-use of their work within the company or with partner media houses without any additional remuneration. The company accepted, on the court steps, that the clause was against the German law on contract and authors' rights.

Key to the petition form in German:

  • Vorname - first name
  • Nachname - last name
  • Funktion/Beruf - what work you do
  • Email (will not be published)
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