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Emap tells photographers: "Give up copyright to get more work"

10 August 2006 - EPUK

A week after EPUK revealed that magazine publisher Emap was sending out rights grabbing contracts, Emap reveals that it is still prepared to let freelance photographers work under the old “first use” terms, but that it will favour those who surrender their copyright.

The remarkable admission is likely to strengthen suspicions that the publisher is using its massive market share to force rights grabs on its contributors.

A spokesperson for Emap told EPUK: “The freelancers who have signed the ‘full rights’ contract are put down as our preferred photographers and therefore receive more work from us.”

The move, which would severely undermine an editor’s choice of contributor, appears to suggest that contributing photographers for the 37 magazines affected would now be selected not on merit, but on whether they were prepared to sign over their copyright. While all rights grabbing attempts by media groups carry this implication, it is extremely unusual for publishers to admit it so freely.

Since the rights grabbing contracts were revealed here last week, Emap had continued to emphasise that they “had introduced a range of contracts to benefit both freelances and Emap and that all contracts are negotiable”

Tough dilemma

However, photographers who contribute to Emap titles now face a tough dilemma between giving all future income from the photographs to media giant Emap, or losing work from the titles.

Emap claims that the type of contract sent out depended upon “the existing relationship we have with the freelancer”, but EPUK has spoken to several contributors who previously supplied work on a “first use” basis, but were sent either the “full rights” or “limited rights” contracts. While the covering letter invited freelances to contact the magazine editor if they disagreed with any of the terms, there was no indication that other, more beneficial, contracts were on offer.

Download the Emap contracts here in PDF format:

> Emap full transfer contract
> Emap limited transfer contract
> Emap first use contract

One photographer who has already signed the “limited rights” contract and who spoke to EPUK on condition of anonymity said he would not have done so had he known there was a “first use” contract available.

Last week Emap did not respond to a request from EPUK to see a copy of the third contract. However, after a further request following this week’s Press Gazette story which revealed that the third contract was for a single use only – the usual arrangement with UK magazines – a copy was sent to us.

While the third contract is a considerable improvement on the “full rights” and “limited rights” contracts, it still contains several contentious clauses, including the right to cancel a commission at any time up until the images are delivered but only to pay any expenses incurred.

Contracts are “extremely intimidating”

Gwen Thomas, Executive Director for Business and Legal Affairs for the Association of Photographers recommends to never to accept the first contract offered. “Speak to the person who commissions you when you receive any contract you are not happy with. Explain that you wish to continue working with them on the usual basis – you do not assign copyright and only licence on a first use basis.”

“If they say they are being told by their superiors that this is no longer possible – point them to the Press Gazette and EPUK reports. Remember, it is likely that they may not be aware of the different contracts and are under pressure from their bosses to sign you up to the copyright grab.”

“Don’t forget that if you receive the contract AFTER the job they cannot force you to accept it, threats of no signature – no payment are empty ones!”

The National Union of Journalists’ Freelance Organiser John Toner has approached Emap on behalf of a number of photographers, and found Emap to be receptive to negotiation. “While the ‘full rights’ and ‘’limited rights’ contracts are certainly intimidating, don’t panic. It is not set in stone. Contact the commissioning editor and explain your objections. Photographers who have tried this have found it is possible to negotiate something much better.”

Emap commented: “It appears those who contacted EPUK have not addressed their concerns directly with Emap because we are confident we would have resolved them.”

Want to contact the EPUK Website editor? editor@epuk.org


Talk about a iron fist in a velvet glove. “You don’t have to give us your copyright, and we’re not at all trying to force through a rights grab, it’s just that we’ll use you less if you don’t”

Comment 1: Dan, 11 August 2006, 11:01 am

This seems to be on the increase and photographers don’t seem to be doing anything to help themselves – shouldn’t they all be boycotting these companies.

Comment 2: Dave, 18 April 2008, 06:52 pm

your_ip_is_blacklisted_by sbl.spamhaus.org

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