Government urged to deal with fundamental Hargreaves questions
4 August 2011
The NUJ has voiced its disappointed at the government's response to the Hargreaves review of intellectual property law. The union said that the response fails to foster creative opportunities for journalists to make a living as independent professionals dedicated to making high-quality new work.
The NUJ said:
"The proposal that the use of work by uncontactable authors is licensed and the fee reflecting the commercial value of such uses is welcomed by the NUJ. This is some recognition of the distorting effect that Hargreaves' proposals would, if carelessly implemented, have on the market in which individual journalists, including reporters and photographers, make their living.
"If there were to be licensing of so-called 'orphan works', it must be done by bodies accountable to journalists and other creators; and the licences must be reviewed if the creator shows up.
"The NUJ welcomes the commitment to set up a copyright small claims jurisdiction for cases involving sums of £5,000 or less.
"The NUJ urges the government to introduce new rights for creators in UK copyright law because under the current laws, creators do not have an enforceable right to be identified – that is, given a credit or byline – nor to defend the integrity of their work. This new measure could be introduced alongside legislation that permits the use of works whose creators cannot be identified.
"The NUJ wants all creators to have the right to be identified with their work and to ignore this issue would be to guarantee that there was a growing number of 'orphan works' and create a system that promotes abuse.
"These 'moral rights' of identification and integrity are crucial to creators in building and maintaining a career. Creators should have the right to be identified so they are able to negotiate on a level playing field to obtain fair remuneration for their work.
"The recommendation in the Hargreaves Report for a 'Digital Copyright Exchange' require the deficiencies contained in UK law to be remedied. A 'one-click shop' for licensing works would invite many kinds of abuse. The NUJ Code of Conduct insists that journalists maintain their professional independence and therefore forbids them endorsing products.
"Furthermore, journalists should have the right in law to check who is licensing their work and to object to uses contrary to their 'honour or reputation' (as the relevant international law puts it). It is not right to allow a third party, such as an advertising agency or political organisation, to buy an apparent endorsement by a journalist as a result of an anonymous exchange.
"Much has been made of the proposal for an exception to copyright to permit use that parodies the original. Any attempt to write law that permits this, while not encouraging, for example, the dissemination of falsified news reports, is bound to end up as a parody of the legislative process. The NUJ recommends leaving the matter of not prosecuting legitimate parody to the courts."
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:
"Journalists should be able to publically claim their work and decide who and how journalistic work is used. This is vital for fostering a creative and sustainable economy able to grow and flourish. Creative rights are vital for journalists to be able to make a living as independent professionals dedicated to making high-quality new work."
The NUJ said that it would be responding in full to the government consultation and supports the concerns raised by the Creators' Rights Alliance.