Because of their sheer size and market power, media corporations that own several publications can force independent freelancers to accept unfair contracts.
One Example is Time Warner
The largest media company in the world, Time Warner, Inc. is worth more than $50 billion. Yet this media behemoth is taking money out of writers' pockets by forcing many of its independent writers to accept "all rights" and "work for hire" contracts. These contracts give Time Warner the power to resell writers' work over and over again. The writers lose all rights to their work and never receive royalties.
Writers have a miserable choice to make — accept the unfair contract and one-time payments — or lose all current and future assignments with Time Warner, which currently owns more than 150 magazines.
What You and Time Warner Have in Common
Corporate lawyers would have us believe that individual freelance writers and Time Warner are on equal footing. Here's how it works: If you and a group of your writer friends get together, meet with Time Warner and demand that it start paying your fair share, you might find the Justice Department knocking on your door, wagging its enforcement finger at you and saying, "You can't get together and make that demand. That's setting prices in the marketplace and that's illegal." That's because, as independent contractors, we are subject to anti-trust laws. (Employees have an exemption from the anti-trust laws for the purposes of collective bargaining.)
Legislators, writers and artists are working together to change that. The Freelance Writers and Artists' Protection Act would allow independent creators to collectively bargain. Copyright grants our work value in the marketplace. But current anti-trust laws prevent us from capitalizing on this value by forcing us to bargain individually against giant media corporations.
What Can You Do?
Independent writers can't fight this battle alone. But united, we have the power to reclaim something that should be taken for granted — our copyrights. Here's what you can do:
· If you're a working writer, join the National Writers Union, (UAW1981)..
· Let Time Warner know that you oppose the unfair “all rights" and “work for hire" contracts. Call them at 212-484-6630. Every call counts. They're keeping track.
· Let your congressional representative know that you support The Freelance Writers and Artists' Protection Act and that you oppose media consolidation.