When work reappears, try re-claiming

LAST YEAR I found on the Guardian website an article I'd contributed over 30 years ago. My 1981 piece on childcare books had been resurrected in the "from our archive" slot. I hadn't been consulted - or paid.

I finally got round to contacting the rights department last month, and - after some nudging - had a reply explaining that the purpose of this slot was to "draw upon the resources of the Guardian archive" to "highlight the richness of Guardian journalism over the years".

There was, I was told, no policy on fees. "However, as a goodwill gesture we would be happy to make payment of £50."

When I asked Pamela Morton whether the Freelance Office had received complaints before (it hadn't), she said "I love his comment about highlighting the richness of Guardian journalism. Perhaps some richness back to you?"

Indeed! I pointed out to the rights manager that as this was re-use of an article sold for one use only, a goodwill gesture was inappropriate: I should be paid at the features rate which, pro rata, would amount to £210.

But this rate, he countered, related to commissioned content. "We are offering this payment as a reproduction fee and not a commission fee".

Ah, a reproduction fee - and not a goodwill payment. He had a point, I agreed. In that case, it should be 50 per cent. And so it was that I received £105. A small victory. But proof that one should "always ask for more"

But do be aware...

It's worth scanning for pieces on the Guardian website. In the case of pieces commissioned since 1999 the Guardian may well claim they have the right to reproduce, covered by the 6.5 per cent uplift negotiated by the NUJ through ACAS (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) in that year. That's one reason it's worth keeping dfetails of the individual contracts you work under.

Last modified: 29 Apr 2015 - © 2015 contributors
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