Photographers call on News UK to ditch exploitative contract
© mark thomas
16 September 2020
The National Union of Journalists and The British Press Photographers’ Association are calling on News UK to drop its rights-grabbing contract.
The new contract, sent to regular contributors by the publisher of the Times and the Sun last week, strips photographers of almost all their rights in their commissioned work, drastically reducing their income.
One single fee will provide exclusive rights for News UK to use commissioned work in perpetuity across Times titles, leaving photographers unable to ever resell their commissioned work themselves. Additionally, News UK demand exclusive syndication rights to sub-license and resell the work in perpetuity.
Instead of paying fairly for multiple uses of a non-commissioned image, News UK will be able to have three days use of images across both online and print publications for the price of just one use.
In both cases, commissioned and non-commissioned work, the contract strips contributors of their secondary rights, requires all moral rights to be waived and subjects them to an unacceptable indemnity clause making contributors, not News UK, liable for crippling claims and costs incurred against the publisher in relation to the images provided.
Photographers are asked to sign by early October, or no longer be "preferred". The NUJ and BPPA call on News UK to rescind this deeply inequitable contract and urgently work with representative bodies to develop more acceptable terms and conditions.
Natasha Hirst, chair of the NUJ’s Photographers’ Council, said: “This disgraceful contract is wholly unacceptable and has no place in our industry. It is completely exploitative, strips photographers of most of their rights and will leave them much worse off. Why a news organisation feels it needs to give photographers, most of whom have struggled to work because of Covid-19, this sort of kicking beggars belief. We call on photographers and professional bodies to join us in condemning the new contract and the union is now writing to News UK to call for talks on its conditions.”
The British Press Photographers' Association said, “Publishers imposing new contracts without discussion, explanation or negotiation is a poor way to deal with loyal and committed freelancers at any time - and to do this when incomes are down and in the middle of a worldwide pandemic would appear to be both opportunistic and ill-judged.”