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Newsquest leak gives handy infringement guide

THE FREELANCE has obtained a memo from the Newsquest title the Bolton News that gives insight into the practices of cash-strapped editors - and a useful guide to claims for copyright infringement.

It opens: "I would like to remind you that if you are taking a picture from the web or any social media site (Facebook, twitter etc.) you need to check we have the relevant permissions to use the image before it is published."

This from a regional group that dismissed three of its remaining photographers last autumn.

The bit that really strikes the Freelance is this:

We now have to pay the copyright holder our going rate (which is £10 - £50) for an image if we use it without permission in the first instance and if the holder decides to take the matter further we often settle out of court in the region of £100-£200.

This will of course, provide a useful guide for Small Claims court proceedings for infringement of copyright in photos - alongside, of course, the rates in the Freelance Fees Guide.

NUJ Northern and Midlands Organiser Chris Morley comments that "the strategy of Newsquest and the others comes at a cost. Not only do they make do with often dodgy and unreliable images, but they will face an increasing bill for this - and that makes the lack of staff photographers an uneconomic proposition."

Morley notes that the executive responsible, Ian Savage, "claims his policy is that reporters need to check consent before using images off the web." But "the reality is very different. Reporters are under great pressure from news desks to always get an image to accompany their story. With no staff photographers and very little access to commissioned freelances to do the work, they feel obliged to take images off the internet to meet publishing demands."

He is "encouraging our reporter members too to recognise the importance of copyright to freelance members, and to have the confidence to say 'no' to an unreasonable instruction from their line manager."

For other encouraging news of Small Claims, see here.

First published: 02 May 2016; Last modified: 20 May 2016 - © 2016 contributors
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