New Rogers freelance contract demands rights for “all forms of media”

Rogers Publishing’s new freelance contract requires freelancers sign
away their rights to allow the media giant to publish their articles
across multiple platforms, “presumably for the same freelance payment,”
D.B. Scott reports on his Canadian Magazines blog.

Scott spoke with Rogers spokesperson Suneel Khanna, who told him: “”the changes in the contract reflect the changing environment of how media is consumed. The revised contract clarifies and standardizes the exclusive and non-exclusive rights we are securing.”

Scott drew up a comparison of the old and new contracts (so you wouldn’t have to). Rogers refused to send him a copy, but he was able to obtain versions from elsewhere. He writes:

“The old contract says it is buying first publication rights; the new contract says the same but “in all forms of media” and requires a 90 day exclusivity from the date of publication. Thereafter, Rogers retains non-exclusive rights.

“The old contract specifies first publication rights; the new contract says the work may be published in all media, through any type of device or service, on Rogers websites, mobile or digital platforms and applications and in e-mail or electronic newsletters, so long as they are associated with the brand of the publication issuing the contract

“The old and the new contract both specify the right of Rogers to archive the work “in any format” and make it available, for a fee or otherwise, themselves or through third parties. The new contract says the same thing, except referring to articles published in “any form of media.”

Scott writes that the new contract “makes second and subsequent rights for freelancers all but worthless.” How can a writer resell an article if it’s already available for free via Google? Scott adds that “The gesture of saying the freelancer retains copyright is negated by Rogers retaining a “non-exclusive” right to it after the 90 day exclusive period.”

This contract follows a trend in publishing that sees giant media companies demanding more and more rights from freelancers for the same fees they’ve always paid. Scott noticed another somewhat telling contract change: the old version’s preamble said “what we are buying”, while the new one says “What you are granting to Rogers.”