European Federation of Journalists

The Netherlands: Landmark ruling sets 50% pay increase for photojournalists

The freelance photojournalists Britt van Uem (Tubantia) and Ruud Rogier (Brabants Dagblad) won on the 1st of November the lawsuit against DPG Media (formerly De Persgroep). The court ruled that the rates they received for their work, respectively 13 cents per word and 42 euros per photo, were not fair. The judge has increased the rates by 50% to 0.21 cents per word and 65 euros per photo respectively. DPG Media therefore has to pay these two freelancers extra for work they did in 2018.

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) welcomes this historical decision and congratulates its affiliate, The Dutch Association of Journalists (NVJ), which in cooperation with the Dutch Association of Photojournalists (NVF) have supported the journalists in this lawsuit.

Throughout Europe we applaud the courage and persistence of the two photojournalists and the support of the union. This decision has indeed a great importance beyond the Dutch borders. We invite media to respect fair remuneration of photojournalists throughout Europe. Professional photo are key for the quality and trust of the press, but without fair remuneration photojournalists cannot survive.” said Mogens Blicher Bjerregård.

The NVJ said it will enter into discussions with all media organisations to achieve better rates for all freelancers.

Although the rates set by the court with regard to the NVJ/NVF are an absolute bottom rather than a reasonable advisory rate for the entire market, there has definitely been a breakthrough in the market for regional and local titles in particular. NVJ officer for freelance and photographers, Rosa García López said: “This ruling ensures that all (photo) journalists in the region have a much better starting position and can claim a right to rates that are up to 50% higher than what is currently customary in large regional media companies. This makes it clear that the Copyright Contracts Act can be of value to all journalists and creative creators in the Netherlands”.

This is the first time that two freelancers challenge the Copyright Contracts Act and consequently, the first time the court gives a substance to what is fair. This law states that creators such as independent (photo) journalists are entitled to fair compensations. The judge has made clear what he bases this compensation on and how he made the weighting. According to the court, it was also relevant to take into account what journalists earn as an employee for the same work. Another circumstance that the court examined was what is customary in the market in terms of rates.

The photojournalists in the Netherlands continue the campaign “Photojournalism has a price” for more recognition of their profession and better rates. This verdict underlines that the rates currently paid by DPG Media to its regional freelance journalists are not fair.

The EFJ Freelance Expert Group (FREG), which has monitored the court case and supported the “Photojournalism has a prize” campaign, is thrilled. “This gives us even more motivation to fight for fair remuneration for photojournalists and freelancers throughout Europe”, said Pablo Aiquel, co-chair of the FREG. “We know we cannot only rely on courts. We also need the employers to recognise that our profession has to earn its life from its work”.

Credit photo: NVJ