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The New York Times Seeks To Take Total Control Over Photographs

A PDN pulse report claims that photographers have organized a protest against the revised contract that the New York Times (NYT) is demanding they sign. As of June 13, 2018, 137 photographers signed a petition and presented it to the Times urging them to reconsider the terms of the contract. The NYT as of the end of June had not responded.

At this time, it remains unclear how the issues between contributors and the newspaper will be resolved. The situation, however, is a good reminder that photographers are engaged in a constant battle to protect their rights to their images.

Federal Copyright Laws Protect Photographers And Their Hard Work

Federal copyright law exists to allow photographers to maintain control over their work. When you are hired to take pictures on assignment, as a freelancer, for a publisher, you may have an agreement dictating the compensation, licensing, copyright, and use of your photographs. The terms of the agreement are up to you and the publisher.

Proposed NYT Contract Demands Photographers Give Up Copyright

According to David Walker, the writer of the report, the contract specifies that the NYT “will own all right, title and interest, including copyright, in the work for all purposes throughout the world.” Work, according to the contract, is all videotapes, still photographs, and logs that result from the assignment.

Danielle Rhoades Ha is the spokesperson for the Times, and she claims that in the new contract for photographers, the only change applies to photographs taken by drones. However, the terms of the deal, according to Walker, contradict this.

One copyright attorney explained in a letter to the protesters that because the new contract is a “work-for-hire agreement, it provides The New York Times with exclusive ownership of copyright to all assignment work. Previous agreements provided for copyright co-ownership of assignment work between the Times and its contributors. That gave photographers the right to re-license their work to other clients, and the right to defend their copyrights against infringement–rights they wouldn’t have under the new agreement, if they sign it.”

The attorney also points to another clause in the contract which would, if signed, allow the Times to unilaterally and without any reason, declare the photographs of a freelancer or employee on assignment, to be unacceptable. The Times would then have no obligation to pay the freelancer.

New York Times Puts Photographers’ Rights In Jeopardy

The contributors to the Times are being asked to forfeit their rights to the photographs they take. While any individual is free to enter into the contract, the organizers are trying hard to find strength in numbers with the hopes that the Times will see the error of its ways.

Federal copyright laws exist to give photographers control over the use of their work. When a publisher as large and powerful as the NYT seeks to erode the rights of individual freelance photographers, it puts these hardworking professionals in a difficult position: give up the rights to my pictures or be unable to work? It is a difficult choice to make.

Contact Our Copyright Lawyers For Help Protecting Your Rights

Sanders Law Group, represents photographers worldwide in all stages of copyright cases:

  • Negotiating license agreements
  • Filing copyright registration
  • Filing copyright infringement lawsuits
  • Enforcing license agreements

Call our copyright attorneys today at 888-348-3090 for a free evaluation of your copyright violation case.


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