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The reaction was indignant. "They're twisting the arms of freelancers who don't have much choice," said one affected photographer. "They're saying, take this lousy rate or don't work for us." The American Society of Media Photographers quickly denounced the contract as a "rights grab."
Solidarity lives. While a few freelancers are said to have signed the contract, most have refused. The protest letter, signed by 87 Times freelancers and 184 additional supporters worldwide, cited "flaws and ambiguities" in the contract and asked for a meeting "to discuss a more equitable arrangement."
ASMP executive director Eugene Mopsik and his lawyer are available to advise the freelancers and attend meetings at the Times. Mopsik predicts that the new contract could have a detrimental impact on the quality of journalism and make it "increasingly difficult for a photographer to make a living."
According to two sources, sympathetic Times photo editors are acting as go-betweens in an attempt to get the contract amended. A Times spokesperson says the freelancers' request for a meeting is under review.