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Copyright attack at Scotsman and Business am

1 November 2000 - EPUK

Rights-grabbing contracts threaten to undermine freelance photographers’ copyright at four Edinburgh-based newspapers

An attempt by Scotsman publications and a new business paper in Edinburgh to impose contracts that threatened to undermine freelance photographers’ copyright by has brought together photographers in Scotland’s capital to resist the move. The contracts currently being offered by Business am and Scotsman Publications (publishers of The Scotsman, Edinburgh Evening NEws and Scotland on Sunday) would deny photographers any future reproduction fees for their work, in return for a tiny enhancement in existing shift and job rates.

In the past three weeks, around 30 photographers have come together to decide on strategies to resist the new contracts and to try to improve the terrible rates of pay currently endured by editorial photographers in Edinburgh. The informal group has contacted the NUJ (most, but not all of the photographers are members) which has initiated negotiations with Business am, and is about to initiate talks with Scotsman publications. The photographers are absolutely determined that they will not give up their repro fees.

Shift rates on the Scotsman are just £115 per day, the paper proposes to increase that to £120, and to make a one-off payment for future use of the photographers existing archives (many of which are held by the paper). Business am – a new paper published by the Swedish Bonnier group – proposes a shift rate of £120 and a job rate of £100. This would include payment for all future use of work by the photographers.

It is the hope of the group that both papers will be persuaded to revise their offers though negotiation. If this is not possible, however, the group is actively considering ways to impress upon both papers their seriousness of intent. If this does happen, solidarity from the rest of the photographic community will be vital to their success.

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