Winning with web work
THE NET is just another medium. That was the
message from Dorian Silver, whose Planet Syndication sells articles
around the world, and Gwen Thomas, of the Association of Photographers,
to the May Branch meeting.
Time is of the essence. Do deals that ensure that your work goes
on a web site only for a specified period - whether a day, a week,
or a month - and you retain control. Allow some open-ended archiving
arrangement and you lose it - unless you negotiate a deal that gives
you a payment for each "hit" on the page.
Gwen reminded the meeting of legal cases in the US, Germany and
France establishing that online use is an extra publication. She
emphasised the need to get the paperwork correct: "Be specific
in the first place." Negotiate the print rights, then move on
to web rights as a separate matter. She mentioned the "fotoquote" program sold in the UK by Elfande, as well as the NUJ's Freelance Fees Guide,
as sources for setting online rates.
Photographers should be aware of the need to identify their work
electronically - for example through the registry set up by creator
organisations at www.vci-registry.org.
Dorian wanted people to think about secondary and tertiary uses
as well as the prime use an article was being commissioned for. "You've
got to work out how they're going to use the stuff so you don't get
unpleasant surprises," he said.
Gwen and Dorian both suggested that individual freelances may feel
less able than agents to withstand pressure from clients. Dorian
promoted the power of confidence: "Your stuff is not toilet
roll. It's premium product."
So, he said, if a magazine like Woman's Own paid £800
for a feature, it shouldn't feel that that gives it the right to put it
on the website without further payment. "I try to get the same
price for use on the internet as in the magazine," he said, "or
at least 50 per cent. If they say they can't, I say it's just tough."
If a feature is for a website in the first place, then it's got to be
paid for in the same way as for print. "Commissioning editors in the
new media are just as much at sea as you in setting fees," Dorian
said. "What they want, however, is to get it cheap." He
recommended thinking about traffic on the site, the eyeball count.
If it's a big site, with a million people a month clicking through,
you'll want to be charging accordingly. As examples, he mentioned fees
of $300 for Question and Answer interviews on a big US site and £400
for features on a UK site.
Follow-up discussion revealed that although client organisations tend
to press for all rights deals, freelances were finding it possible to
resist. GQ magazine was said to start of by announcing that
it would take all rights, but did back off when this was questioned.
Dorian told of advising one freelance offered work by Marie Claire
to insist on keeping copyright. "They were shouting at him down
the phone, saying they had to have all rights. But he held out and they
caved in. He's still getting work from them."