To mark World Copyright Day on Tuesday 23 April, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its European group, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), are launching a campaign to fight against unfair contracts.
IFJ/EFJ have called on their affiliates to launch a global fight back against rights-grabbing contracts that demand journalists to assign their authors' rights to publishers.
"Fair contracts are the guarantee for high quality and ethical journalism," says IFJ President Jim Boumelha. "However, the spread of buy-out contracts strongly impacts on the quality of journalism as well as the livelihood of journalists."
Rights-grabbing contracts, or "buy-out contracts", demand that journalists sign all moral and economic rights over to publishers. These include the right to protect the integrity of their work, be identified as the author and to receive equitable remuneration when work is re-used.
Buy-out contracts assign media employers a worldwide, exclusive right to use, reproduce, display, modify and distribute their work on all types of platforms, known or future. They also allow media employers to transfer the work to third parties without additional payment to the journalist.
The EFJ has been collecting information about unfair contractual terms and conditions and found that major newspapers, magazines and broadcasters across Europe widely use these unfair contracts.
"We were appalled by the extent of unfair contractual practices in the media industry," said Arne König, EFJ President. "Media organisations asked journalists, particularly freelancers, to assign their exclusive rights for multiple use of their works for small one-off payments."
The IFJ has called on over 170 national affiliates to collect rights-grabbing contracts and share such samples to illustrate the case and put pressure on national legislators to end the unfair contractual practices. Journalists' unions are also being encouraged to sign the Fair Trade for Creators petition.
"We also call on media organisations to end this practice by starting negotiation with journalists' unions on collective agreements that include fair terms and conditions on authors' rights," stated Jim Boumelha.
Authors' rights are protected by international law: Article 27 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights confirms everyone's right to protection of "the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author".
The Berne Convention, in Article 6bis, reads that "Independently of the author's economic rights and even after transfer of the said rights, the author shall have the (moral) right to claim authorship of the work and to object to any distortion, mutilation or other modification".
"We call on national and European legislators to close the legal loophole and put an end to the unfair contractual practices," demands Arne König.
For more information, please contact EFJ on + 32 2 235 22 00
The European Federation of Journalists is the European group of the International Federation of Journalists. It represents over 300,000 journalists in 37 countries.