Voice-over artists have labelled peer-to-peer recruitment websites as “exploitative”, in a new report that warns such platforms pose a threat to professionals’ intellectual property rights.
The study from researchers at the University of Exeter looks at how these recruitment platforms, which have introduced “Uber-like business models for the commissioning of creative content”, have impacted on the voice-over sector.
On peer-to-peer recruitment websites are platforms, anyone can advertise a job and usually anyone – whether professional or amateur – can apply. This compares to the traditional method of finding voice-over work through agents negotiating with clients.
Examples of such platforms include the Mandy Network, Voice UK and Upwork, all of which have been contacted for comment.
The research found a majority of respondents were registered with at least one peer-to-peer recruitment site.
Funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council and led by Mathilde Pavis, Huda Tulti and Joanne Pye, the study analyses the findings of an online survey of more than 200 voice-over performers.
It states that peer-to-peer recruitment platforms are a threat to performers’ intellectual property rights.
This is because artists may be asked to sign over the copyright of their work to the client without being given a fair opportunity to negotiate or without “clear and transparent” notification that this is happening.
Key findings from the survey:
• The words most commonly used by respondents to describe peer-to-peer recruitment platforms were poor value (13%) and exploitative (11%)
• The majority of negotiations for voice-over work are carried out by email, with use of written contracts “extremely rare”
• Voice-over artists rarely raise the issue of intellectual property rights in their negotiations, with only 40% stating they felt familiar with their rights
• 64% of voice-over artists are registered with one or more peer-to-peer recruitment platform
The report adds that peer-to-peer platforms could become an opportunity to introduce principles of contractual best practice on a global scale, should their terms and conditions be appropriately revised.
A second report reviewing the implications of the terms and conditions of online peer-to-peer recruitment platforms for voice-over artists is scheduled to be released in January 2020.