Freelance and Agency Contributors
Overview of the Special Contributors Scheme
To facilitate NLA media access licensing, publishers grant NLA rights to license the copying of all content in their newspapers and websites.
Copyright in articles and photographs included in newspapers and newspaper websites is either owned by the publisher (where the work is provided by an employee), or the publisher can be granted rights in the works through its agreements with agencies and freelance journalists / photographers.
Because of the demands of multi-platform publishing, most publishers have developed rights management processes which clear the rights necessary for the purposes of NLA licences at the point of commission (see the ‘Best Practice Guidance for Publishers’). For those publishers that cannot confirm that they have cleared all necessary rights beyond the rights for initial publication, (see Checklist for Publishers) NLA media access operates a survey to calculate what portion of their NLA licensing revenue is due to freelance contributors or agencies – “The Special Contributors’ Scheme” (SCS).
The NLA Board includes a ‘Special Contributors Director’ to oversee the interests of freelance and agency contributors. This role is currently held by Brian MacArthur
The majority of copying by NLA licensees is for daily media monitoring reports / press packs. Typically, a small percentage of a publication is copied – predominantly business and news articles that reference companies and brand names.
The SCS therefore surveys articles sent to clients by the largest media monitoring agencies (covering 80% of the market) from a representative sample of titles for each participating publisher. Publishers receiving less than £40k per annum from NLA licensing revenue are not required to complete a survey (their calculation is based on the survey average). Publishers receiving less than £10k per annum and larger publishers with proven rights management systems, can be exempt from participation in the scheme.
The mechanics of the survey are:
• NLA collates data for all articles copied over a selected week
• Publishers are required to categorise the articles to confirm the source (e.g. whether from an employee, a news agency or a freelancer), and rights status of the article (i.e. whether cleared or uncleared)
• The completed survey data are analysed by an independent surveyor, (the Audit Bureau of Circulations), to produce a % of copied content, to which the publisher does not own the rights
• The publisher is required to set aside an equivalent percentage of the revenues received from NLA over the survey period for payment to the contributors.
NLA conducted a survey in 2014 to cover the years 2011-13:
• 18 publishers were required to complete survey forms for selected titles, and a further 6 publishers (i.e. earning less than £40k per year) had the average % applied to their NLA revenues
• 43,006 items (text and photographs being analysed separately) copied from 67 print and web titles over a week period were analysed and categorised according to their rights status
• for each individual publisher completing the survey the average results from their titles surveyed were applied across their entire portfolio of titles – 2051 print and web titles were therefore included in calculating the sums due to freelancers / agencies
• the aggregated figures result in just under 2% of the NLA revenues paid to participating publishers during the survey period being attributable to freelancers / agencies.
The results of the survey are summarised below:
No. of titles surveyed (print and web)
Titles covered by the survey (print and web)
No. of items categorised (text and photos)
Participating Publisher NLA Revenue 2011-2013
Revenue attributable to Freelancers/agencies
Paid to contributors
No. of individual contributors paid
Paid to Journalists' Charity**
*Express Newspapers; Financial Times; Mirror Group; News UK; Aberdeen Journals, CN Group; City AM; Clyde & Forth; Express & Star; Independent News & Media; Johnston Press; K M Group; Newsquest; Scottish Provincial; Shropshire Newspapers; Tindle; Trinity Mirror; Century Comm; D E Alexander; Heads Congleton; Hirst, Kidd, Rennie; Jewish Chronicle; NW Ireland Printing & Publishing.
**If the amount due to individual contributors is below £100 or the relevant contributor cannot be found, the money is instead donated to the charity).
NLA is planning to hold the next survey in 2016 to cover the years 2014 /15.
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