A number of contributors to Bauer's music magazines have proposed an alterative contract which would grant the publisher full copyright over album reviews. Phil Sutcliffe, member of an informal network called the Kerrang/Q/Mojo freelance group, told Press Gazette the compromise contract had proved "acceptable to most freelances" and had been distributed for individuals to vary for their negotiations with the publisher.
Sutcliffe said: "It's the latest way of us putting forward what we think is a reasonable proposal in the hope of negotiating an agreement that will help to see the magazines and the freelances through this predicament." Contributors were trying to approach the publisher constructively, Sutcliffe said, in a bid to help sustain both the magazine and freelance businesses while exploring new business models.
The proposal would see the copyright to album reviews given over to the publisher in the hope that it would be then be able to extract value for them digitally. A spokeswoman for Bauer said the terms and conditions of its individual contracts were confidential so the company was unable to comment specifically.
Earlier this month more than 200 freelance journalists accused the publisher of "declaring war" on contributors to its music magazines, including Kerrang!, Mojo and Q, with a proposed copyright-grabbing agreement.
Bauer's contributors said new contracts removed all their copyright, financial, legal and moral rights while simultaneously requiring them to provide Bauer with an unlimited lifetime financial indemnity in the event of legal action arising from their work.
The publisher hit back last week saying despite a series of proposed revisions to the terms and conditions it was offering a fair contract and has not sought to cut rates of its music magazine freelancers. A number of contributors are understood to have already signed the new contracts.
Sutcliffe, who has worked for Q and Mojo for more than 25 years, said the new proposals would not extend Bauer's copyright to reviews of gigs, other written material, nor concede the legal indemnity it had requested, but showed a willingness to help the publisher develop digitally.
The Bauer spokesman said the publisher "continued to hold 121 conversations with freelancers, seeking to clarify elements of the contract and allay any concerns". She added: "We are a responsible publisher and want all our brands to succeed. Consumers are engaging with our influential brands differently and we want to provide every opportunity for our audiences to engage across all platforms with our excellent content whenever; however and wherever they wish."
Oliver Luft writes for Press Gazette.