Four long-time Sports Illustrated photographers who lost NFL assignments for refusing to sign Time Inc’s controversial photo agreement have been given a second chance to sign, according to a photographer who spoke to PDN on condition of anonymity.
The photographers were reportedly sent new, revised contracts on Tuesday, January 19. The revision was in the form of a letter clarifying the terms of the contract. Time Inc. issued the letter earlier this month to all contributors, but critics said it was not legally binding. According to PDN‘s source, Time Inc. has made the letter a legally-binding addendum for the hold-out SI contributors.
Those contributors were reportedly told they would be reinstated for future assignments, if they sign the contract with the addendum.
The addendum includes two specific references to Sports Illustrated. One states that the brand “will continue its current practice of sharing syndication revenue 50/50 with photographers for individual photos that are licensed without the SI brand and SI content.” The other reference confirms that “Sports Illustrated will continue to allow its photographers to sign for credentials.”
Four SI contributors were unsatisfied by the contract addendum and were pulled off of the games this past weekend because they still have not signed the agreement, according to a source.
A Time Inc. spokesperson contacted by PDN did not answer questions regarding the photographers’ football assignments for Sports Illustrated, or comment on the revision that made the “clarifications” legally binding.
Jill S. Davidson, Time Inc’s VP of corporate communications, said in a statement sent to PDN, “Time Inc. informed photographers, including those who received assignments for Sports Illustrated, over two months ago that assignments for 2016 would be made under an approved Time Inc. agreement and that photographers who did not sign an approved Time Inc. agreement cannot take commissioned photographs for Time Inc. starting in 2016.”
A photographer who spoke with PDN said the SI contributors’ loss of assignments is not the fault of SI photo editors: “If they had their druthers, they would have their old staffers covering the football… as was planned,” the photographer said.
The rescinded assignments followed the shakeup of the Sports Illustrated photo department. Director of photography Brad Smith, longtime picture editor Claire Bourgeois and SportsIllustrated.com photo director John Blackmar were all laid off on Friday, January 15.
A year ago Sports Illustrated laid off its six remaining staff photographers.
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