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I am a photographer for my school paper. I enjoy my job and was appointed photo editor again for the next editorial board. However, we’ve come to a serious problem: when I joined, I specifically asked about copyright and was told that I retained all rights to my own work. Now, the new board is taking the position that the paper retains all copyright since we are ‘staff’. Keep in mind that we do not sign contracts or get paid. I’ve been talking with the new editor-in-chief about this and would love some advice. I really don’t know how this works, and the eic has helped me understand why the paper feels the need to retain copyright, but I am still really struggling with the prospect of just giving away the right to have a say over my own work. Here is an email I received:
“The two general options we talked about:
The Herald prefers (a), or a variation of it, for a number of reasons, not least of which is the sense of ownership and cooperation in the student-run organization that comes with (a); whereas (b) sets up a free-lance type relationship in which hypothetical future photographers have little incentive to honor their terms or feel like they’re a part of the Herald community in the same way writers et al do.
Other concerns with (b) are that we can’t apply the same standard to writers, whose content we really can’t negotiate on. Also, any access Herald photographers have to events, etc is more open to abuse by someone who would like those privileges for a different publication."
Obviously, I would go for option (b) but: any thoughts? Should papers just retain copyright if we are ‘staff’? Then why would I want to be staff and not just freelance? Am I being obtuse?
As always, thanks a million.