Protest at GNM decision to curb photographers' rates

Freelance photographers conducted a protest outside the offices of the Guardian News & Media this morning in response to its decision to end payments for the re-use of commissioned pictures.

According to the National Union of Journalists around 40 photographers attended the protest this morning handing in a petition protesting against the move. Some 900 people have signed the petition so far protesting against the plan by the publisher of the Observer and the Guardian to pay once for unlimited re-use of images.

Last month, Press Gazette revealed GNM was planning to reduce its payment for freelance photographers’ work.

Until today, the company has paid photographers each time they use their photos.

GNM told its contributors in July the standard terms for commissioned photography would change to include “a non-exclusive, perpetual licence to re-use commissioned photography in its products and services without further payment.”

John Toner, NUJ freelance organiser, said the change could cost many freelance photographers 30 per cent of their income.

He said: “At a time when press photographers are suffering severe hardship as a result of the economic downturn, it comes as a further blow to be informed that GNM demands unlimited re-use of photographs free of charge.

“One of the reasons that photographers like working for the Guardian is that they always respected photographers.

“They feel this is a company that is understanding of photographers, respecting of their work and their rights, and it’s now reversing its position.”

A Guardian spokesman said: “The changes introduced today mean that we can re-use a photo that we paid to have taken from 1 September, without paying the photographer again. Photographers retain copyright, and we apply only a 60-day exclusivity period, after which the photographer is free to re-sell the picture.

“This change has been introduced at a time when we are having to cut back fiercely on all sorts of expenditure, to ensure GNM has a sustainable cost base for the future in order to continue to invest in photojournalism. Our terms and conditions for freelance photographers remain among the best in the industry.”

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