Con­cerns raised over Bauer Me­dia’s Com­mis­sion Agree­ment

The Shed - - News -

If you’re a free­lance pho­tog­ra­pher and one of your clients asks you to sign a con­tract in or­der to be­come one of its ‘pre­ferred sup­pli­ers’, it al­ways pays to read the fine print very care­fully.

Last month Bauer Me­dia Group, New Zealand’s largest mag­a­zine pub­lisher, pre­sented its con­trib­u­tors with a Com­mis­sion Agree­ment con­tract that has left many free­lance pho­tog­ra­phers, il­lus­tra­tors, and writ­ers feel­ing con­cerned and out­raged.

One of the most alarm­ing clauses of the Bauer agree­ment states that the “con­trib­u­tor as­signs to Bauer, as an out­right sale, from the date of its cre­ation all ex­ist­ing and fu­ture copy­right through­out the world in the works.” This means that Bauer would gain sole and ex­clu­sive own­er­ship of all images (in­clud­ing outtakes) cre­ated as a re­sult of any com­mis­sion. As such, they could use the pho­tos in any way, in any pub­li­ca­tion, in any medium (in­clud­ing ad­ver­tis­ing), and even re­sell them to other busi­nesses, with­out any fur­ther pay­ment or com­pen­sa­tion pro­vided to the con­trib­u­tor. The con­tract also goes on to sug­gest that con­trib­u­tors must pro­cure third-party con­sents that would al­low Bauer to ex­er­cise un­lim­ited and per­pet­ual us­age rights — con­sents that would be prac­ti­cally im­pos­si­ble to ob­tain.

The Ad­ver­tis­ing and Il­lus­tra­tive Photograph­y As­so­ci­a­tion (AIPA) held a meet­ing on March 11 to dis­cuss the Bauer agree­ment, and in­form free­lancers about the im­pli­ca­tions of sign­ing a con­tract that we’re told in­de­pen­dent legal ex­perts have called “en­tirely one-sided” and “oner­ous”.

As well as hand­ing over all in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty rights and waiv­ing moral rights, con­trib­u­tors could also be faced with a sit­u­a­tion where they will be made to pay “all ex­pense, loss, dam­age, penalty or cost” in­curred by Bauer as a re­sult of any legal ac­tion that may oc­cur. The AIPA ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor, Aaron K, rec­om­mended that all free­lancers re­ject the Bauer con­tract, and only agree to ac­cept as­sign­ments un­der the AIPA Stan­dard Pho­to­graphic Terms and Con­di­tions of En­gage­ment. He went on to state that, “You’re the sup­plier, and it’s the sup­plier’s role to set the terms and con­di­tions. You’re all in­de­pen­dent busi­ness own­ers, so you should be set­ting your own terms of trade, just like ev­ery other pro­fes­sional busi­ness.”

As we write this, the AIPA con­firmed that, “More than 70 ed­i­to­rial pho­tog­ra­phers, in­clud­ing many of Bauer’s top free­lance con­trib­u­tors, have now stated they will refuse to work un­der Bauer’s oner­ous Com­mis­sion­ing Agree­ment. A sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of free­lance writ­ers have also said the same.”

Free­lance ed­i­to­rial pho­tog­ra­phers who want to be kept up to date about this is­sue can join the new Ed­i­to­rial Pho­tog­ra­phers New Zealand (EPNZ) on­line fo­rum at

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