Bauer Media launches 'vicious, venomous and vindictive' rights grab
21 April 2010
The music division of publisher Bauer Media has launched a rights grab against freelance writers and photographers at Kerrang!, Mojo and Q magazines. The action has been condemned as "vicious, venomous and vindictive" by the NUJ.
The publishers are seeking to impose all rights contracts on freelance contributors and also to make them responsible for damages and costs in cases of legal action against the magazines.
The contracts would deprive freelance journalists of income from the reuse of material they have normally produced for Bauer and other publishers on the basis of payment for first use only. Many photographers and writers have valuable archives of their work that can yield income over a number of years.
Two hundred Bauer contributors have signed a petition refusing to work any more for Bauer unless the new contracts are rescinded. Their action has been supported by entertainment union BECTU.
John Toner, NUJ freelance organiser, said:
"The freelances have been extremely reasonable in their attempts to negotiate with Bauer, offering concessions they have not made before. None of this matters to Bauer, who simply will not negotiate. The freelances are faced with taking industrial action in order to persuade Bauer to negotiate with them.
"They have the support of the NUJ, and we will provide every assistance of which we are capable. The Bauer contract is vicious, venomous and vindictive. It is particularly disturbing that Bauer can introduce such a contract in the UK but would not be able to do so in Germany.
"Once again, this illustrates that UK copyright law in weighted in favour of publishers and against the creators, which is why we must continue our efforts to effect change in the law in this country."
Freelance members of media and entertainment union BECTU working in film and TV have pledged their support and solidarity with freelances at Bauer.
Martin Spence, BECTU assistant general secretary, said:
"In the media and entertainment industries, characterised by freelance and casual labour, workers must be able to retain copyright and other creative rights in their work. Without this, many would simply be unable to make a living. Creative rights are workers' rights.
"Furthermore, Bauer's demand that their workers indemnify the company against the inappropriate use of copyrighted material represents an unacceptable shift in the balance of risk from employer to worker."