HL Deb 30 October 1956 vol 199 cc1147-8

Clause 4, page 5, line 9, leave out from ("made") to ("shall") in line 17 and insert ("by the author in the course of his employment by the proprietor of a newspaper, magazine or similar periodical under a contract of service or apprenticeship, and is so made for the purpose of publication in a newspaper, magazine or similar periodical, the said proprietor ")


My Lords, here, again, we have quite a different point. This is our old friend, the freelance journalist, whose interest we discussed at length on Committee and Report stage. The effect of this Amendment is twofold. First, the Government were impressed by the arguments made in favour of the freelance journalist and came to the conclusion that, on balance, it would be better to follow the existing law than the recommendation of the Copyright Committee in his case. This Amendment accordingly puts the freelance journalist back in the position he now enjoys under the Act of 1911; that is to say, in the absence of anything to the contrary (let me emphasise that; it is often overlooked) he will be the owner of all copyright in what he writes, whether or not he is commissioned to write it.

The second effect of the Amendment is, by introducing the words "employment by the proprietor of a newspaper "et cetera, to meet the point made in another place that, on the Bill as drafted, this subsection would apply to an employee of an advertising agency (or of any commercial concern other than a newspaper, et cetera), who made a work for publication in a newspaper. As a result of the present Amendment, the ownership of copyright in such cases will not now be affected by this subsection but will fall to be determined by subsection (4) of this clause—namely, the only employee who will retain any rights in his work will be a person employed by the proprietor of a newspaper. I am certain that those two Amendments are in keeping with what your Lordships said on the subject at the time. I beg to move that this House doth agree with the Commons in the said Amendment.

Moved, That this House doth agree with the Commons in the said Amendment.—(Lord Mancroft.)


My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Lord and the Government for sticking to their guns over this matter. It was on this point that we fought the first pitched battle on the question of erosion in your Lordships' House. We were going to erode so much that the commissioned journalist was put out of business. I am grateful to the noble Lord on that point, and I am also grateful because there has been some slight tidying up of the position of the employed journalist. I think a case could be made for not carrying the same freedom of the freelance or commissioned journalist to the employed journalist. However, I am glad the Government have conceded almost all the arguments on behalf of the employed journalist, and this should, I think, make for fairness and equity as among them all.

On Question, Motion agreed to.