Freelances unhappy with Future's new contracts

By Alyson Fixter

Freelance journalists working for magazines taken over by Future
Publishing may refuse to sign new contracts that give the company full
international copyright for their work without extra payment.

About 40 freelances who previously worked for A&S Publishing,
which was bought by Bath-based Future in January, have been sent new
contracts by Future this week. About 30 of them are believed to be
seeking advice on whether to sign them.

They say Future intends
to translate and reproduce their work in other countries, preventing
them from reselling their articles and cutting down work for other
freelances.

The contract also tries to introduce a “kill fee”
that would give Future the right to return commissioned articles and
pay only 50 per cent of the agreed fee if they are considered
“unsuitable”.

One freelance, who asked not to be named, said:
“I’ve spent days on the phone talking to other freelances who are very
unhappy with this.

“By giving Future total copyright, they will
use material in a number of magazines around the world, increasing
their profits at our expense. Most of my other freelance work is
abroad, so I would lose all of that if I signed this.

“The kill fee is also a new one on us.

I was working at A&S for over ten years and never had to sign anything.”

John
Toner, freelance organiser at the NUJ, said: “It’s a bad contract. The
NUJ’s position is that no company should own the copyright of a
freelance’s article, although too many do.

“I would advise the freelances to approach Future collectively and say they are unhappy with the terms of this contract.”

A
Future spokesman said: “We believe our contracts are fair in the
context of an international publishing business and we currently work
with around 1,500 contributors on this basis.”

A&S, which has 11 motoring magazines, including Classic Ford and Total BMW, was bought by Future for £6m.

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