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Grab 'em while you can

27 August 2001 - EPUK

Spot the Catch! Updating paperwork?
No, its a rights grab…....You have been warned!

Photographers working for ‘Inside Communications’ have just received the following “Contributors Declaration” to sign: There are two sheets, a letter and a form.

The text of the letter is as follows:

Dear Sirs

Contributors’ Declaration

As you are aware, the accounts function of the company has been de-centralised and is being dealt with from this office. It is necessary for Inside Communications to be sure that all contributors and freelance workers are responsible for their own tax and national insurance. At the same time we are taking the opportunity to up-date our paperwork relating to Copyright.

In this connection, would you please complete and return the attached Contributors Declaration. To ensure our records are up to date it would be appreciated if you would do so even if you have completed a similar form in the past.

Please note that if we do not receive the signed declaration from you by the end of September there could be a delay processing future invoices.

Thanking you in anticipation

Yours sincerely
bq. Sue Cattermole
bq. Assistant Managing Director
bq. Inside Communications Ltd

The text of the form is as follows:

To: Inside Communications Ltd Bank House, 23 Warwick Road, Coventry CV1 2EW

Date: August 2001

Account No: XXXXXXXXX

I certify that any amount claimed by me for work done on behalf of Inside Communications is paid gross and that I am fully responsible for any tax and National Insurance which may be payable.

I certify that any work completed is original and not published elsewhere. All rights under the Copyright Design and Patents Act 1988 belong to Inside Communications Limited. This acknowledgement is a full waiver and consent under section 87 of the Copyright Design and Patents Act 1988.

Signed….................................
bq. Name: A. Contributor
bq. Address: 123 Anywhere Street, Anytown

It is normal for clients to check up, from time to time, on their contributors’ self employed status. It is normal, though unacceptable, to hint at “a delay in processing future invoices”. However it is quite extraordinary to sneak a total rights grab into what purports to be routine administrative paperwork.

Under the Copyright Design and Patents Act 1988, photographers own their copyright in commissioned work. Contributors to Inside Communications usually supply on these terms. Anyone signing & returning acknowledgement of their self employed status without reading to the end would lose all these rights. This document is arriving at the end of the August holiday period when everyone will be returning to a mountain of paperwork.

Inside Communications is a successful magazine company owned by the Trinity Mirror organisation. Commissioned material supplied by photographers signing this document, could therefore end up being used throughout Trinity Mirror publications without acknowledgement or payment.

In our opinion no-one should sign this form. A simple amended version would provide the company all it seems to require by way of acknowledging self employed status as follows:

Account No: XXXXXXXXX

I certify that any amount claimed by me for work done on behalf of Inside Communications is paid gross and that I am fully responsible for any tax and National Insurance which may be payable.

Signed….................................
bq. Name: A. Contributor
bq. Address: 123 Anywhere Street, Anytown

It is however worth pointing out that their paperwork is poorly drafted, failing to distinguish clearly between commissioned and stock photography. If the document is amended as above, that ceases to be the photographer’s problem.

Related story links:

Copyright Design and Patents Act 1988
Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act

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