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NUJ and IFJ call for better rights for creative work

17 May 2013

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) have joined together today to defend intellectual property and journalistic work.

Barry McCall, NUJ President, said:

"Copyright is a valuable asset for many NUJ members. If you own the rights to your work you are in a position to make money from it. The NUJ is at the forefront of campaigning to prevent the use of work without the creator's permission or payment.
"As the UK parliament starts to examine these issues as part of the legislative programme and select committee inquiry for the creative economy, the NUJ will continue to speak up on behalf of our growing number of freelance members for whom the licensing of copyright forms a significant part of their living.
"The NUJ wants to protect the intellectual property of creators including their right to authorise the reproduction, communication, or availability of work. We want improved rights in relation to payment as well as the rights for creators to be identified and protect the integrity of their work."

At the same time, the IFJ has denounced a set of principles issued by Article 19 to unduly restrict creators' copyright protection.

In a letter addressed to Article 19 Executive Director, Agnès Callamard, the IFJ has raised its concerns over "The right to share: principles of freedom of Expression and Copyright in the Digital Age", a document that opposes two fundamental rights that safeguard the independence and the integrity of the journalistic profession.

The IFJ said:

"By opposing freedom of expression and copyright protection, 'The right to share' assumes a conflict between two fundamental rights that should, on the contrary, be seen as complementary.
"Both promote the rights of creators – whether professional or not – to be creative, to receive an appropriate reward when their work is used commercially, to ensure that the work is accessed by the widest audience, to be identified as authors if they wish – and, crucially, to ensure that there is respect for its integrity."

While the IFJ is a strong defender of freedom of information in the digital world, it insists that those who write, broadcast and, in important cases, take enormous risks to convey that information should be adequately rewarded for their work.

"A document such as the 'Right to share-principles' can add additional damage to a profession which is already in a very weak position and thus contribute to further weakening of the freedom of information that is essential to any democracy of informed citizens."

The letter points to Article 27.2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which grants authors the protection of their moral and material interests in their work.

"It is true that copies of our work can be made available across borders on an unprecedented scale and at minimal costs but it is unfair to say that copyright laws need to adapt 'to keep pace with digital technology'.
"Press photographers in particular face a situation in which the high quality of scanning systems now allows for any magazine to use their work for free without any authorisation. We fail to understand how an adaptation of copyright laws could respond to this lack of control over uses of their works."

Lastly, the IFJ has denounced the proposals to broaden the list of exceptions to copyright pointing in particular at the risks that this would pave on authors' ability to control the use made over their work, to protect the integrity of their work, to defend their right to be identified and prevent them gaining revenue for exploitation of their work.

In the UK the Intellectual Property Bill has its second reading in parliament on Wednesday 22 May.

Tags: , copyright, IFJ, Article 19, freedom of expression