LONDON, June 10, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --
A survey of freelance newspaper and magazine journalists has highlighted the need for clear and fair contracts in this fiercely competitive profession.
A recent survey conducted by Loughborough University on behalf of the Authors' Licensing & Collecting Society (ALCS) was formally launched at the All Party Writers Group summer reception at the House of Commons on Tuesday 10 June.
The research, which was carried out in late 2013 into the incomes, working practices and rights of freelance newspaper and magazine journalists, has revealed that despite typically retaining their copyright, journalists are unlikely to receive the full value of the rights that they hold, due to a lack of clear terms with their publishers.
The findings, from a survey entitled 'Valuing the rights of freelance journalists' revealed that a large percentage of journalists had worked without a contract for most or all of their commissions over the last 5 years. Where contracts were forthcoming they frequently contained clauses requiring assignment of copyright. Of those who had signed contracts, just 49% of newspaper freelancers and 35% of magazine freelancers had managed to retain their copyrights.
The research shows that typical respondents (51% men, 49% women) had been writing for an average of 18 years. While 49% of those surveyed said that they were the main bread-winner in their household, 58% earned less than £8,000 a year from their freelance writing.
The survey also reveals particular ambiguity for creators concerning rights to syndicate and sub-licensing rights.
Overall, the current situation 'lacks clarity, certainty and fairness,' concludes the research.
"This research clearly illustrates the instability in economic recompense and in establishing appropriate contractual terms for writers working as freelancers for magazines and newspapers in the current environment. Writers are in many cases working completely in the dark in terms of knowing what their rights are and we want to ensure that, going forward, they are commissioned on terms that clearly state their rights and most importantly allow for fair and equitable remuneration for the uses of their works."
Barbara Hayes - Deputy Chief Executive, ALCS
A booklet summarising the findings 'A free for all' can be downloaded from the ALCS website - http://www.alcs.co.uk/research
The recommendations concluded in the research have the full support of ALCS, the National Union of Journalists, Society of Authors and the Writers' Guild of Great Britain.
The Authors' Licensing & Collecting Society (ALCS)
ALCS collects fees on behalf of the whole spectrum of UK writers: novelists, film & TV script writers; literary prize winners; poets; freelance journalists; translators and adaptors, as well as thousands of professional and academic writers who include nurses, lawyers, teachers, scientists and college lecturers. All writers are eligible to join ALCS: further details on membership can be found at http://www.alcs.co.uk. ALCS collects fees that are difficult, time-consuming or legally impossible for writers and their representatives to claim on an individual basis: money that is nonetheless due to them. Fees collected are distributed to writers twice a year in February and August. Since its inception, ALCS has distributed over £350 million to the nation's writers. For further information, contact email@example.com or see http://www.alcs.co.uk
The Department of English and Drama at Loughborough is one of the only academic departments in the UK to offer a full range of undergraduate courses across the areas of English, Publishing and Drama. By offering this range of complementary disciplines students experience a broader outlook which enables them to apply new ways of thinking to their subjects. Recognising the application of its disciplines in different sectors, the Department also works with other University schools/departments on courses which integrate business, sport, history and politics to provide further relevance to potential employers.
Among the staff are published poets, playwrights and experts in storytelling and publishing, who are also internationally leading researchers and teachers. Within this creative atmosphere students benefit from high quality study, performance and rehearsal spaces, which have seen over £3M of investment. The Department hosts a variety of extra-curricular cultural events and activities such as poetry readings, performances, writing and reading groups, and there is both a student-led publishing company and a Department theatre company. It is a friendly and supportive learning environment where staff and students interact on a first-name basis.
Alison Baxter, Head of Communications, ALCS
SOURCE Authors' Licensing & Collecting Society