Advancing the End of Journalism? – Denying intellectual workers’ rights

Francis Shennan (University of Strathclyde, UK)

Multi-national and multi-media companies, aware of the value of intellectual property, are using employment, copyright and contract law to seize and retain these rights. Even where journalists and other creators are in atypical employment relationships, such as short-term contract or freelance, oppressive agreements are forcing them to give up intellectual property rights. Worse still, attempts are being made in Britain, Ireland and other European countries to use competition law to prevent collective agreements for media creators. It is a complex area: in the NUJ alone I identified 18 variations of employment relationships. Other organised groups affected include Equity, Bectu, the Writers’ Guild, etc. My paper - drawing on research for a 5,000-word paper for a Certificate of European Employment Law through the Institute of Employment Rights, Kings College London and Manchester University - analyses the defences open to claims of anti-competitive behaviour and the importance of protecting the fruits of intellectual labour. In the process it may challenge organised creator groups unions to look beyond the extension of employment rights as the only way to protect atypical workers in the media. For under some European legal systems, in contrast to Anglo-American jurisdictions, intellectual rights are a personal rather than a property right and cannot be bought and sold, especially under unfair contracts.

Timing - Friday - Panel Session D1
Download the full paper - Francis Shennan.doc



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