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