EFJ Calls for Strong Authors’ Rights Protection in the Digital World for all Journalists

Fifty representatives of journalists’ unions convened in Thessaloniki, Greece, on 11-12th December at a seminar on Authors’ rights in the digital age - a fair deal for journalists.

Participants condemned the increase of rights-grabbing contracts in the media industry and the difficulty to retain their rights when their works are used and reused on different platforms of the same media or different titles of the same media group.

‘The lack of consideration for our colleagues’rights to receive a fair remuneration for the reuse of their works, especially when their work in being used online, is alarming,’ said Arne Konig, EFJ president. ‘If journalism is to remain a public good, additional efforts should be made to ensure that authors’ rights are not signed away. This should apply to both freelance and staff journalists.’

Effective collective bargaining and solid authors’ rights legislation were raised as minimum principles to ensure that journalists are properly rewarded for their works.

New media platforms’ use of journalistic works, media concentration effect on authors’ rights protection, musicians’ strategy to enforce their intellectual property rights, best practices of rights management and licensing schemes, formed the basis of two days of discussions. Journalists also shared some common concerns with the European Consumers Organisation (BEUC), in particular over social media’s terms and conditions of use.

‘Creators’ rights are citizens’ rights,’ said Mike Holderness, Chair of the EFJ authors’rights expert group. ‘All citizens are creators, and with FaceBook and YouTube every citizen can be published: professional journalists have the same interest as everyone else in protecting their authors’rights. We have similar concerns in the way social media allow the use of our content for free and without authorisation. This can lead to misuse of content which can be very detrimental to a person’s reputation. Everyone should be aware of this when putting our content on a social media web site.’

The seminar’s conclusions will contribute to the drafting of a practical handbook for journalists on how to defend and protect their authors’ rights.

Conclusions Thessaloniki

Participants at the seminar in Thessaloniki on Authors’ rights in a digital world: a fair deal for journalists conclude:

- That journalists’ authors’ rights, including moral and economic rights, must be strictly enforced in European countries where they are challenged, in order to maintain quality journalism. This principle shall apply to all media, including news produced online only.

- That additional strict enforcement of moral rights, including the right of paternity and integrity, is crucial in the digital environment, not least to ensure that citizens have access to reporting that is known to be authentic.

- That journalists must be able to retain their authors’ rights to be able to negotiate agreements.

- That the lack of protection of authors’ rights in the terms and conditions imposed by social media on those who upload works jeopardises authors’ and consumers’ rights over that content.

- That the EFJ will seek more dialogue and cooperation with consumers’ organisations to contribute to strengthening the protection of all creators’ intellectual property rights.

- That there must be more transparency in the management and remuneration of authors’ rights.

- That any collective management of journalists’ authors’ rights must be done by organisations representing a large proportion of authors.

- That the imposition of unfair contracts on freelances must be put to an end and that freelancers must have the choice to join a union and benefit from collective bargaining.

- That libraries and other institutions digitising protected content should carry due diligent search prior to making digitised orphan works available.

- That a licence must be obtained in advance and paid for prior to digitising journalistic works.

- That extended collective licences may be considered as a solution for digitising orphan works when managed by collective societies that represent a large proportion of authors.

For more information, please visit the seminar homepage.

The IFJ represents more than 600.000 members in 125 countries