Payment on publication and other freelance woes

By April 3, 2018Public

The Press Gazette has run an article on payment practices, some might say mal-practices, which will strike a chord with many MJA members.

Eugene Costello, a London-based journalist who has written for a wide range of national newspapers and magazines, who says: “I’ll pretty much write about anything.” And he has written a thought-provoking piece on the perils of payment on publication, commisisoning editors sitting on stories and kill fees. Click here to read his piece.

Some freelancers quoted in the piece are refusing to work for companies which pay only on publication, but others worry they could be seen as being ‘difficult’ and find work drying up.

But — and this is a telling point — individual writers are negotiating deals which include fair payment and usage.

One adds this rider in small print to all her emails pitching story ideas: ‘Unless specifically stated to the contrary and agreed in writing by both parties, conditions for pieces submitted for publication are as follows: payment on submission, one use, first local serial rights only, non-exclusive, copyright retained by author, separate fees and charges for images, syndication, apps and internet usage (in whole or part) by separate and specific agreement, one paper copy/final PDF to author, kill fee 100 pre cent commissioned fee, reasonable

expenses to be agreed. Any balances not settled within the statutory 30-day period are liable to interest charged at 8 per cent above base rate under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998 (amended March 2013), plus a fixed fee for administration costs.’”

The NUJ recommends adding this wording to your website: “My terms of trade are that I never sell my copyright, I licence people to use it, I never licence people without there being explicit paperwork, I invoice upon supply of material and I expect payment within 30 days of supply unless my material is deemed to be in some way unsatisfactory.”

What is your experience? Is payment on publication a problem for you? Have you negotiated a better deal?

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