News / 15.05.2010

Freelance journalists lose right to appeal

With that decision it means the January ruling of the market court on the collective unfairness of the Sanoma News agreement still stands but it provides possibilities for an individual journalist to take up a court action against Sanoma News if he or she perceives the agreement as unfair.

The Markey court only gave the ruling on the basis of the law governing an agreement between business parties and did not find the agreements unfair to a collective entity.

The Union of Journalists, with 560 authorizations from freelance journalists, brought the case in a collective action against Sanoma News agreement, which among other things sought to usurp the copyrights of works by freelance journalists.

The court focused on assessing whether there are terms that would be, within the sector, ‘generally unreasonable’, i.e. not only because of specific occasion or circumstances. The court did not take any position whatsoever on compensation for work or how it is determined.

To the Union, the proposed agreement is still unfair to an individual journalist, says Director Petri Savolainen.

It is also within the jurisdiction of a district court to examine the unfairness of the agreement to an individual journalist as well as the level of compensation at the first hearing. It is an individual member who can take up litigation of this kind. But Savolainen said that it would be difficult to find an individual who would be willing to come forward with a case. Nevertheless he says the Union would look out “for very good individual cases” which could be taken to court.

The Union has pledged to pay the legal expenses of its members along with the self-financing component.

The UJF has urged its members not to sign the agreement presented by Sanoma News a year ago but rather try to continue working within the previous framework. The freelance journalists can also propose their own agreement model and conditions so that unfair conditions do not arise. It is illegal for an individual to sign an agreement under duress therefore any instance of pressure being exerted on a journalist by Sanoma News should be reported immediately to the Union, said Savolainen .

During the whole process the UJF has been prepared to negotiate a fair agreement with Sanoma News, however, without success. From the Union’s part the channel of negotiations is still open after the decision of the high court.

Translation and editing: Linus Atarah. Original story

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