Time Inc.’s UK division has riled editorial photographers by issuing a new contract requiring freelancers to hand over “all rights” to any assignment images for about 60 specialty publications. The contract takes effect January 1, 2015, but there may be wiggle room for negotiation, at least for some photographers who take the initiative to push back.
“It’s an outrageous rights grab,” says photographer David Hoffman, spokesperson for Editorial Photographers UK (EPUK). “It’s just bullying.”
The contract applies to a wide array of Time Inc UK titles, including fashion, lifestyle, entertainment, and shelter magazines, as well as niche magazines for marine, wine, gardening, fishing, sport, and technology enthusiasts. The contract does not apply to assignments for TIME, the weekly news magazine.
“The new agreements better reflect our needs as a multi-platform business,” Time Inc. UK’s director of corporate communications Karen Myers told PDN via e-mail. “Contributors need to bear in mind that commercial realities dictate that we will be using the content that we purchase in many different ways to reflect the changing media landscape, both now and in the future.”
Myers acknowledges that some photographers “will not want to assign and/or waive their rights and there is no obligation for them to do so – if they do not wish to do so, they may object and negotiate different terms with us in the usual way.”
Hoffman explains, “If an editor really wants your particular work, or is sympathetic to you, they may be able to do individual deals.”
But photographers who aren’t able to negotiate to keep their copyrights will be deprived of the right to re-license assignment images, which could ultimately hurt Time Inc., Hoffman says. “The best photographers won’t work for them under those terms,” and those photographers who do accept the terms won’t have much incentive to do their best work, he explains.