Rights of Freelance Writers for the Boston Globe

We are distributing the following on behalf of our friends at the Boston Globe Freelancers Association.

Jonathan Tasini President National Writers Union

BOSTON GLOBE FREELANCERS ASSOCIATION Post Office Box 343, Cambridge MA 02140-0004
 February 3, 1997

For Immediate Release:

 A broad coalition of national writers' groups today joined the Boston Globe Freelancers Association in opposing the Globe's attempted seizure of all rights, including copyright, to articles by freelance writers.
The coalition e-mailed a letter to department heads and editors at the newspaper, explaining their concerns about a proposed contract recently sent by the Globe to its freelance contributors. Globe management cites its online ventures, such as its Web site (http://www.boston.com), as the reason for wanting total control of everything it publishes, including material by freelancers. Under law and industry practice, non-staffers own their work and normally control its subsidiary uses.
Joining the Freelancers Association in objecting to the Globe's move are the American Society of Journalists and Authors, Authors Guild, Garden Writers Association of America, International Association of Culinary Professionals (Food Writing and Publishing Section), National Association of Science Writers, Society of American Travel Writers (Freelance Council) and Washington Independent Writers.
The group's letter to editors reads, in part:
"No one wishes to interfere with the ability of the Globe to enter into electronic ventures. The issue is the use and excuse of the coming new world of electronic journalism to mask radical, unilateral changes in accepted business practices. The material to be used in this new world should be contracted for and paid for in a reasonable manner, no less than has been done -- and continues to be done -- in the old."
The Globe's action is the latest skirmish in the battle between freelancers and publishers over who should own electronic rights to the contents of newspapers and magazines. Some publications have, like the Globe, looked for even more than e-rights and attempted to force their freelance contributors to turn over rights to their work.
The Globe's attempted rights seizure comes as the newspaper is charging readers a downloading fee of up to $2.95 per staff-written article republished on the newspaper's Web site. Such leading publications as American Way, Cooking Light, Food & Wine, Harper's, Health, Parenting, Sierra, Travel & Leisure and Yankee offer writers extra fees or royalties for the electronic use of their work.
Scores of Globe freelance contributors have joined together to oppose the all-rights contract. Working through the Boston Globe Freelancers Association, they have called upon Globe management to withdraw their demand for contributors' copyrights and to provide fair compensation for electronic reuse of their work.
The Boston Globe Employees Association, a union representing newspaper staffers, has passed two resolutions supporting the Globe freelancers. The BGEA's executive committee declared:
"We fully support the freelancers' legitimate and moral resistance to the Globe's unfair demands to deprive them of their rights to earn a fair income for themselves and their families. We . . . request that the Globe withdraw its unfair contract demands for freelance writers and join us in endorsing their right to earn -- rather than be deprived of -- a fair and decent living from their hard work."
For more information contact:
Boston Globe Freelancers Association Tom Duffy, (617) 776-1797 Jeff Kantrowitz, (617) 491-2295 Elijah Wald, (617) 666-8158
For a national view of the electronic-rights issue, the Freelancers Association recommends contacting:
American Society of Journalists and Authors (212) 997-0947 or e-mail ASJA@compuserve.com
National Writers Union (510) 839-0110

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