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IPC Rights Grabbing Contract: Angry letters exchanged

23 July 2002 - EPUK

The IPC rights-grabbing contracts fiasco rumbles on and on…

Sly Bailey (IPC Chief Executive) writes to the National Union of Journalist’s Freelance Organiser John Toner…

In response to your letter of 4th July, the NUJ have got it completely wrong. There are absolutely no changes to the substance of the Core Contributor Agreements, which is what is key here. This is merely a tidying-up exercise in line with AOL Time Warner’s requirements.

The existing Core Contributors Agreements covering All Rights for all regular IPC contributors were introduced in 1996 as a way of speeding up the commissioning and payment process.

The recent clarifications added by IPC do not alter the Agreements in any way and commission can still be negotiated on an individual basis.

The new Agreements have also only been sent to those contributors who have already signed an existing All Rights Core Contributor Agreement.

The National Union of Journalists and the Association of Photographers have issued a joint press release on the IPC situation. Their reply to IPC’s Sly Bailey’s letter published in the trade “Press Gazette” is printed here in full.

We welcome the assurances given by IPC chief executive Sly Bailey that company does not seek to acquire ‘all rights’ on every freelance commission.

Ms Bailey’s comments, in a letter to the Press Gazette, must come as a relief to every freelance who has received one of IPC’s rights-grabbing letters. There does remain, though, the apparent contradiction that a company that does not seek all rights should write to its contributors stating “it is understood that any future Work(s) you are commissioned to do will be on an “ALL RIGHTS” basis unless otherwise agreed in writing.” (IPC’s caps and quotation marks.)

The NUJ and AoP had hopes to clarify IPC’s position at a meeting last Thursday (July 18), but that meeting was called off by the company with less than 24 hours notice. We were informed that a letter to the NUJ from Sly Bailey explained everything.

However, Ms Bailey’s four-paragraph letter contains more questions than answers and we would have liked the opportunity to pose the questions directly. Nor does it state what rights contributors can choose to give IPC, despite our requests for clarification.

Specifically, what will happen to those core contributors who refuse to assign all rights in all future work? Will they suddenly find their services are no longer required? Will the other rights alluded to be made clear to contributors when they are commissioned?

These are the questions Sly Bailey must answer.

John Toner, NUJ – Gwen Thomas, AoP

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