TIME Inc. is under fire after a recent change in their freelance photography contract – covering over 23 brands owned by TIME Inc. – has set a new standard in the worst of ways.
In a blog post for Photoshelter, writer Allen Murabayashi breaks down what it is that has photographers up in storm and why photographers around the world should take to holding such a massive company to a higher standard.
In the incredibly thorough article, Murabayashi quotes photographer and author John Harrington, who wrote up an extremely critical piece on the new contract. In it, Harrington says ‘the devil is in the details.’
Specifically, Harrington says the new payment system means less compensation in the long-run for photographers. While the initial ‘day rate’ is now $600 – $150 more than before – the long-term compensation is nonexistent, as photographers must now sign over rights for continuous rights for TIME Inc. to use a photo in a specific ‘space,’ a concept explained in the following example:
A photo of President Obama that might have previously been used in multiple issues and generated hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, for a photographer, can now be used without compensation in any “assigning brand.”
Harrington also criticizes the new cover image rule, which states any photo used on a cover of a TIME Inc. brand may not be licensed anywhere else.
The final blow, according to Harrington, is the new stipulation that states payments are only made upon ‘acceptance’ of an image – a term that remains undefined. ‘If an editor doesn’t like the photos, is it unacceptable?,’ says Harrington. ‘What if the story is killed?’
Murabayashi brings TIME Inc’s recent divorce from Time Warner into the spotlight, noting that the company is ‘under enormous financial pressure with the stock dropping from a 52-week high of 25.95 to the current level in the mid- to high- 15s.’
In speaking with a few photographers who have worked for TIME Inc, Murabayashi obtained a few strong-minded statements about their thoughts on the revised contract. One photographer went so far to say ‘This is the worst [contract] I’ve seen, and I’ve seen hundreds.’
The contract can be seen in its entirety below in a document uploaded to Scribd by Murabayashi.
What are your thoughts on the new contract and the stipulations within? Is the lack of secondary use a killer for photographers looking to make a living from their work? What could be changed to make the new agreement more appealing to photographers?
To read Murabayashi’s article in its entirety – which you absolutely should – head on over to Photoshelter.