An Open Letter to the New York Times

NY Times

To the Editor:

The Times seems to regard the removal of reporters’ bylines from your home page and mobile app (“Where Did the Bylines Go?“, August 22), as purely business decisions. But bylines aren’t just a good idea — they are required by international law.

Article 6(bis) of the Berne Convention, ratified by the U.S. in 1988,  recognizes the “moral right” of authors to attribution, and Article 10 requires that “press summaries” mention the names of authors.

The U.S. Copyright Office is currently studying whether new legislation is needed to provide an effective remedy for violations of authors’ moral right to attribution.

In the Copyright Office consultation, the National Writers Union and the International Federation of Journalists pointed out that attribution of authorship is key to the assessment of credibility and to the ability of readers to distinguish the work of professional journalists from “fake news”.  

But more than a year later, neither the Copyright Office nor Congress have acted. It’s time for the Times, and for Congress, to recognize journalists’ and other writers’ rights to have our names on our work, wherever it appears.