European Federation of Journalists

World Copyright Day: Outlaw unfair contractual practices!

Legislators must take concrete steps against unfair contractual clauses in their laws. This is the message put across by the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) to mark World Copyright and Book Day tomorrow 23 April.

The organisations warn against the continuing trend developed by media companies to use rights- grabbing contracts. Journalists who sign those contracts not only lose the right to use their works autonomously, but also the (moral) right to protect the integrity of their works. These practices allow for the same work to be used many times for one single payment and deprive news outlets from the quality and diversity they need.

The EFJ and the IFJ call on international legislators to provide solid safeguards preventing journalists from forced assignment of their authors’ rights in contractual negotiations.

“Many media companies claim full assignment of journalists’ authors’ rights to trade easily, “ said IFJ president Jim Boumelha. “Journalists, especially freelancers, are in a weak position when it comes to negotiation time. Unless a collective agreement is in place, freelancers are faced with a take it or leave it situation and forced to sign away all their authors’ rights. It is time to take concrete steps to outlaw these practices”.

The Federations have compiled samples of unfair contractual clauses in place across the world.

The Federations point at the impoverishment of qualitative news content when the same stories are being reused without proper remuneration for journalists. They have developed a check list of minimum conditions journalists’ contracts should meet to protect authors’ rights.

“The right to be named as the author, to be able to oppose substantive modifications of one’s work, to receive additional payment when works are being made available in online archives are among the provisions we would like to see enforced in all contracts” said Mogens Blicher Bjerregård EFJ President.

To mark World Copyright Day, the EFJ and the IFJ call on their affiliates to share samples of abusive clauses and unfair contractual practices under #isitfair and use the fair contract logo in sign of solidarity.

More on the campaign here.