A small group of freelance radio journalists are in a stand-off with a non-profit media company asking for full copyright in a new contract.

by H.G. Watson, for Rabble.ca

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A small group of freelance radio journalists are in a stand-off with a non-profit media company that has asked them to give up full copyright in a new contract.

The freelancers allege that AMI Accessible Media Inc., a Toronto-based news organization that produces content for the blind, partially sighted, deaf or hard of hearing, has changed the terms of a new contract so that they will own full copyright to stories — including raw material like the audio interviews and research notes.

Rachel Sanders, one of the freelance radio reporters, says that this creates a hardship for herself and other reporters who want to keep their original recordings to create pieces they can sell elsewhere. 

“We rely on being able to make the most of our ideas in order to make a living,” she said. An anonymous source expressed similar concerns about the new contract.

John Melville, the vice-president of programming and production at AMI, told rabble.ca that the advice that AMI has is that they need to be able to have the rights to the content they are producing. The company is not interested in divvying up copyrights to elements of production. 

“It is our material at the end of the day; we are the ones who are commissioning this story,” he said.

AMI takes the position that because they are commissioning the stories and that some freelancers use their equipment, and in some cases use AMI’s offices, they have a different relationship with the freelancers than if the freelancers had simply pitched a story to AMI and produced it using their own space and equipment.

Melville also downplayed the station’s reliance on freelance work in a follow-up interview with rabble.ca, saying that AMI staff at their Toronto office produced most AMI original content. 

That runs counter to Sanders’ experience freelancing for AMI. She said that since she started working for AMI in June 2014, she has pitched and been assigned a number of radio documentaries, ranging in length from about four to 12 minutes long. Never was she given the impression that there was a different relationship with AMI if she was assigned a story as opposed to pitching it herself.

To continue reading this article, please go to rabble.ca where it was originally published.

Image by Curtis Kennington via Flickr.