Agency journalists have condemned the use of their words and pictures online without permission or payment.
The National Association of Press Agencies has also warned publishers that it now has legal advice to the effect that websites constitute a separate edition from the main paper – and therefore require separate payment.
Napa chairman Mark Solomons said: ‘Many newspapers have been fudging the whole issue of payment for internet use for far too long. Only a few have acted responsibly by adopting a clear policy for internet payments.”
He was speaking at a debate on the issue at Napa’s annual general meeting this week.
‘In the early days of the net, titles begged agencies to turn a blind eye to the issue. Typically, we had executives pleading poverty, saying that web editions, in their infancy, were starved of cash and could not afford to pay for content,’he said.
‘But Napa members are reaching the end of their tether and, frankly, we are sick of hearing promises that there will be ‘jam tomorrow’. The jam needs spreading now.
‘There has been a sea change in 2007 that has seen UK newspaper sites take off in a big way. The internet is now a huge and potent medium which newspapers and advertisers are taking very seriously.
‘Napa members simply cannot afford to subsidise newspaper web sites any longer.
‘We have clear legal advice that internet editions, in whatever format, are distinct publications.
‘It follows that the creators of material should be paid separately when words and pictures are used in electronic formats and our members are being advised that it is their right to pursue reasonable payments.”