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

Freelance photojournalists Britt van Uem (Tubantia) and Ruud Rogier (Brabants Dagblad) won on 1st November a 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.

Credit: NVJ

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 the work they did in 2018.

The International and European Federations of Journalists (IFJ/ EFJ) welcome this historical decision and congratulate their affiliate, the Dutch Association of Journalists (NVJ), which in cooperation with the Dutch Association of Photojournalists (NVF) has supported the journalists in this lawsuit.

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 minimum 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 made reference to 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 clarified the basis for such compensation and how he made the weighting. According to the court, it was also relevant to take into account what journalists earn as employees for the same work. Another circumstance that the court examined was what is customary in the market in terms of rates.

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 price” 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 make a living out of  its work”.






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