ABC and Organic Gardener, trying it on…

This week I received a “deed of copyright” from the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s Organic Gardener, a publication I have on a few occasions contributed to. I was at first puzzled as it is nearly two years since I’ve had anything published in that fine magazine. Now, I’m all for contracts when it comes to publishing, but this particular deed I was being asked to sign, wanted me to grant them a fixed re-use price for my photographs of $20 per use, plus the use of my work “on any website owned or controlled by the ABC…for an unlimited time gratis”.

The specific clauses in the ABC Copyright Licence Deed

Normally I would just ignore a rights grab like that, but in this case I felt compelled to respond. I wrote to the ABC as follows:

Thursday, 22 September 2011

 Dear Ms White,

 I am puzzled by the request to sign a deed of copyright related to my material previously published in Organic Gardener.

 While I respect the need for contracts within publishing, I will not sign overarching deeds of copyright related to material already published, that gives the ABC retrospective re-use rights at rates so low.

 Organic Gardener is entirely free to re-use my material whenever they choose, at a rate negotiated with me at the time. I am sure your experience is the same as mine, but I have yet to encounter any supplier of goods or services that will allow me to decide what I want to pay. As the author and licensee of my photographs, it is my prerogative to decide the rates they are offered at. If you disagree with what I ask, it is your right to say negotiate or say no.

 I have forwarded copies of your deed of copyright to the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance and the Australian Commercial and Media Photographers.

 Yours sincerely,

I’ll let you know if there is any follow-up….


Filed under Australia, Australian, Digital photography, News, Opinion, Photographer, Photographers' rights, Rob Walls, Stock photography

4 responses to “ABC and Organic Gardener, trying it on…

  1. Rob,
    Much more subtle than:
    Dear Aunty,
    Bugger off!
    Nice comeback.

    • Thanks Steve, though my first reaction was similar to yours…figured there was nothing to be lost by taking a stand. Photography seems to be about the only business where the buyer assumes the prerogative of setting the price. Will they get it? I doubt it. There are all sorts of photographers out there who’ll roll on their back to have their tummy tickled for $20.

  2. Hope your trip to my home town is another good one. And hope you get a considered and sympathetic response from the ABC, although in my experience the ABC of today is a pale shadow of its former self and is more about telling than listening.

    • Sheldon, I’m really looking forward to visiting Perth again this week. Sorry about the long response time to your comment, but it’s been a very busy few weeks.

      I got a response from the ABC along the lines, “Well many other photographers are happy to sign.” They sent me a modified deed on the basis that re-use would be negotiated, but since the clauses I published in this log were still included I won’t be signing.

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