Freelance Contributors Sue Boston Globe

Posted on 6/14/2000 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)



June 14, 2000

Freelance writers, illustrators, and photographers of the Boston Globe have

filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of one thousand freelancers, seeking

an injunction in Massachusetts Superior Court against the Globe's unfair and

deceptive trade practices.

The lawsuit was filed after the Globe attempted to coerce writers,

illustrators and photographers into signing an unfair contract which demands

all rights in all mediums to all past, present, and future creative works by

freelance contributors. The Globe informed freelancers that they would

never be hired again unless they agreed to the paper's demands, which

include granting the Globe rights to re-publish in all mediumsincluding the

Internetarticles, photographs and illustrations that were previously sold to

the paper, for no additional compensation.

The legal action, Marx et. al. v. The Globe Newspaper Co., is supported by

three organizations representing freelancers, on behalf of their members who

contribute to the Globe: The National Writers Union, Local 1981 of the

International Union, UAW; the Graphic Artists Guild, Local 3030 of the

International Union, UAW; and the American Society of Media Photographers


"The last thing we need is more sweatshops in cyberspace," said Elizabeth

Bunn, Vice President of the International Union, UAW, and director of its

Technical, Office and Professional (TOP) Department. "The power of new

technology should be harnessed to empower creative workers, not used as a

club to re-create 'my-way-or-the-highway'-style working conditions,

reminiscent of the 19th century."

"We're not going to stand by while irresponsible publishers impose

non-negotiable, retroactive agreements on creators," said Richard Weisgrau,

executive director of ASMP. "We're confident that the Massachusetts courts

will put a stop to this kind of egregious behavior."

The Globe is attempting a "brazenly deceptive strategy to grab our rights

for decades of work in the past for nothing, and for no specified

compensation in the future," according to plaintiff Bill Marx, a book critic

for the Globe and a member of UAW Local 1981. "The Globe wants to make

available under their name, for their exclusive use and profit, the

intellectual property owned by freelancers on the Globe's web site, across the Internet."

"The Globe claims I will be able to retain a copyright interest in my work,"

said photographer Greg Mironchuk, an ASMP member, who is another of the

named plaintiffs. "But what good is that if they force me to give to them

the right to take everything I have given them over the years I have worked

and allow them to distribute and sell it over the Internet and elsewhere


The lawsuit, citing Massachusetts laws that prohibit deceptive and coercive

business practices, seeks an injunction to strike down the Globe's contract

demands, and to nullify the contract for those who felt coerced to sign it,

for fear of losing their position with the Globe.

The Globe's coercive and deceptive business practices "would merit a

Spotlight Team expose, if these actions were committed by any other company

than the Globe itself," said Ira Sills, a Boston labor and employment

attorney who is representing Globe freelancers. "We doubt the paper will

devote much coverage to its own misbehavior, but the state of Massachusetts

has laws which prohibit this kind of unconscionable behavior. We intend to

enforce them."

The National Writers Union recently prevailed against the Globeís parent

company in a landmark lawsuit, Tasini vs. The New York Times, which

established work contributed by freelancers cannot be re-used,

electronically or by other means, by a publisher without the consent of the

creator. The Times and other publishers, including the Globe, now face

uncertain financial liabilities because they routinely violated copyright

law by re-selling electronic versions of articles contributed by freelancers

without their consent.

Copyright © 2000 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


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