news agency has been informed by The Independent that it automatically
shares copy supplied by freelances to all titles owned by parent
company Independent News and Media– unless specifically told not to.
Leffman, director of Londonbased National News, complained to The
Independent after it sold a story to the paper and then saw it on the
website of a sister title, the Belfast Telegraph.
The story was
about Sinnathamby Ponniah who lost more than 100 relatives after the
tsunami destroyed his family village in Sri Lanka.
“I was doing a cuts check when I saw the same story with the same
bylines as used in The Independent in the Belfast Telegraph. I have no
problem with the Telegraph which has agreed to pay us and said it was
an error made in good faith.
“But I was absolutely flabbergasted
to be told by The Independent that the onus was on us at the point of
sale to know that this happens when every other newspaper regards our
copyright as a one-off sale not to be handed around the rest of the
“We have no contract with The Independent and we don’t supply them with copy on spec because their rates are so low.
we bung a story out on spec and the Daily Mirror uses it I don’t expect
that to be distributed among all Trinity Mirror papers. The only reason
I found out about it was because I did the cuts check.”
Independent ‘s managing editor, Jan Thompson, responded to Leffman’s
complaint by stating: “Unless specifically agreed with a freelance
contributor, agency or any other third party, The Independent obtains
or purchases material on terms that it has a right to share such
material for publication among outlets in the Independent News and
Media Group (which includes the Belfast Telegraph) or any other third
party who has a specific agreement with The Independent to receive such
He added that because of the “misunderstanding” other titles in the group would be told not to use the agency’s tsunami story without contacting National News first.
claims that the agency has three times complained to The Independent ‘s
legal department after its stories were lifted from the Evening
He said on each occasion The Independent paid up.