ACP Magazines – analysis

Owned by Packer’s PBL Media group (which also owns the free-to-air TV network Nine), ACP mags have been around for over a century and is probably the single biggest magazine publisher in Australia.

But if you’ve signed the restrictive Fairfax contributor’s contract, and you write more than three contributions in six months for Fairfax, you’re not supposed to write for ACP. (How much does that suck!)

ACP titles include some of the biggest sellers in Australia:

  • 4×4 Australia
  • APC (Australian Personal Computer)
  • Australasian Dirt Bike
  • Australian & NZ Skiing
  • Australian Auto Action
  • Australian Geographic
  • Australian Gourmet Traveller
  • Australian House & Garden
  • Australian Motorcycle News
  • Australian Mountain Bike
  • BBC Australian Good Food
  • belle
  • Bounty
  • Burke’s Backyard
  • Cleo
  • Cosmopolitan
  • Disney Adventures
  • Dolly
  • Empire
  • Fernwood
  • FHM
  • Good Health & Medicine
  • Gourmet Traveller
  • Grazia
  • Harper’s Bazaar
  • Inside Cricket
  • Inside Rugby
  • Madison
  • Men’s Style Australia
  • Money
  • Mother & Baby
  • NW
  • OK!
  • Outdoor Australia
  • PC User
  • People
  • Pregnancy & Birth
  • Qantas – The Australian Way
  • Ralph
  • Rolling Stone
  • Rugby League Week
  • Shop Til You Drop
  • Slimming & Health
  • Street Machine
  • Take 5
  • The Australian Women’s Weekly
  • The Picture
  • Top Gear
  • TV Week
  • Wheels
  • Woman’s Day
  • Wondertime
  • Zoo Weekly
  • While the ACP stable is great and the contract has some good clauses, there’s one BIG problem: ACP wants all rights, in all territories, forever – copyright AND moral rights. Sigh.

    5. COPYRIGHT AND MORAL RIGHTS
    5.1 The Contributor irrevocably assigns to ACP all present and future copyright (including all rights comprised in such copyright now or at any time in the future) throughout the world, in all Works, such assignment to be effective from the date of creation of the relevant Work
    5.2 The Contributor must do all things requested by ACP to enable ACP
    to assure further the rights assigned under clause 5.1.
    5.3 Without limiting clause 5.4, the Contributor unconditionally and
    irrevocably consents, and agrees to procure that each of its employees, agents and subcontractors unconditionally and irrevocably consents, to all or any acts or omissions by ACP or persons authorised by ACP which may infringe any moral rights in the Works, as described in Part IX of the Copyright Act 1968, or any analogous rights that exist or may come to exist anywhere in the world.
    5.4 ACP and persons authorised by ACP may amend, add to or delete from
    any Work. To the extent that any of those acts would otherwise infringe the moral rights of any person in the Works, as described in Part IX of the Copyright Act 1968, or any analogous rights that exist or may come to exist anywhere in the world, the Contributor agrees to procure the consent of that person to those acts. The Contributor agrees to ensure that this consent is separate from any consent provided under clause 5.3

    This clause is really unacceptable to most writers. Some freelancers report that they have simply crossed out that clause and returned the signed contract.

    Instead of asking for all rights in perpetuity, why does ACP not ask for first rights for an exclusive period (usually 30 or 60 days)?

    Non-exclusive digital rights for the publication’s own website are also a quite common and usually acceptable request from savvy publishers.

    One redeeming feature of the ACP “assign all rights” contract is its provision for syndication fees.

    4.2 In consideration of the rights assigned to ACP under clause 5.1,
    ACP will pay the Contributor:
    (a) a syndication fee (the “Syndication Fee”) equal to the Specified
    Percentage of the amount received by ACP from licensing the Rights in the Works to third parties less taxes and all third party fees, charges and commissions (such amount being “Revenue”), excluding amounts received from the use or licensing of such Rights in connection with or in relation to Brand Publications or ACP Publications; and
    (b) a Re-Use Fee in respect of each use, or licence granted for use,
    of a Work in an ACP Publication provided that the Work is longer than 300 words.

    While the rights clause is a show-stopper, it is good to see a sensible syndication clause from a major publisher included in a contributor’s contract.

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    Comments

    • Shelley Gare  On July 6, 2010 at 6:13 am

      I don’t agree with publishers taking a percentage of a syndication fee unless they do ALL the negotiating and are therefore entitled to a handling fee of say 10 percent. If they have an active selling department – and very very few companies do – perhaps the handling fee could go higher.

      However, in my experience, the best companies (eg News Ltd) allow – or certainly allowed – the contributors to receive 100 percent of any syndication fee on the basis that the writer owns the copyright.

      Contributors don’t get sick pay, holiday pay or superannuation and I doubt our annual income is anything like that of an employed journalist. Therefore, syndication fees are one of the few perks we have which can go towards sick pay, holiday pay, superannuation.

      Important principle. Hope we can maintain it.

      • writerscontracts1  On July 13, 2010 at 9:07 pm

        Great point Shelley! Then again, syndication fees become moot when you no longer hold copyright. Making sure that you have reasonable copyright licensing in the first place is probably the most fundamental piece of any writer’s contract.

    • Shelley Gare  On July 6, 2010 at 6:14 am

      PS – should have said for the record – terrific site! Thank you for running it.

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