Freedom must be saved

Freedom must be saved

The potential closure of an iconic publication such as ‘Freedom’ is an absolute travesty, and would be in whatever circumstances that it may have arisen. However, the reasons for which it found itself in such a perilous financial state makes me feel sick to the pit of my stomach.

Freedom was founded in 1886 by a group of volunteers, and despite format changes, is still in publication today, 125 years from when it first appeared. Freedom has been written and edited by some of the most legendary figures in the movement, and has a well-deserved reputation.

I am no expert of the finances at Freedom, but clearly those finances are limited. Any substantial or unexpected cost was bound to put a spanner in the works. What you would not expect is an allegedly ‘left leaning’, anti-fascist, photojournalist, to near bankrupt the newspaper over the accidental use of a photograph in a book.

David Hoffman, a well-established photojournalist, took issue with a photograph used in the 2009 book, “Beating the Fascists”, that didn’t have his permission. Rather than just accepting an apology for a genuine mistake, the rat bastard decided to go after Freedom and threatened them with legal action. Ultimately they have had to hand over £4,000 to the cunt, which has left them in dire straits.

Freedom is launching an appeal for donations and subscriptions. If nothing changes then it will cease to exist in its current printed form in October.

I started writing the international news pages a few months ago, which has given me an insight into the hard work and commitment of all those involved. They really do bust their asses every month to ensure the paper is finished.

Freedom has given so much to the movement for well over a century, I really hope the movement can pull together for a really worthwhile cause.

***Please click on this link for more detailed information and how you can help***

Posted By

working class s...
Jul 19 2012 00:52

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the button
Jul 19 2012 09:11

I have mixed feelings about this. In many ways, Freedom has improved (I got my first copy in 1984, and they sent me a free copy of Green Anarchist too, along with some poems printed on postcards wall ). But it's pretty difficult being "the movement's paper," when there isn't really a movement to be the paper of. And while I salute the efforts of those involved (among whom I number some of my closest friends), I have to ask myself if it's worth it for the sake of 300-odd subscribers and minimum public sales. And before anyone says, "More people should write for it and sell it," my pre-emptive response would be "No-one's being stopping you/me/us, and hasn't been for some time."

If Freedom does cease paper publication, it'll be in no sense the fault of the people who produce it. I just don't think there's the demand for it, tbh.

Rob Ray
Jul 19 2012 11:19

It was more than one photo, but even being generous and assuming most or all of them were his (they weren't) I did a quick calculation and the total value doesn't come to much over £3,000 - basically what he took advantage of was our inability to dispute it, as if Freedom had lost in court it would have been bankrupted immediately.

He may come on here later trying to justify himself, he's been whining on Twitter recently:

"Hoffman wrote:
Freedom blame **. I blame their theft & lies. But they have £1m asset squirreled in holding company, lose no sleep!

Firstly, his "assets" line is way out. The "holding company" he's talking about is the Friends of Freedom, who hold the building in trust. The building is worth nowhere near his estimate and is in any case very specifically not the same thing as the Press.

The Press is involved in the paper, book publishing and sales through the shop on the ground floor. The building, held in trust by the Friends of Freedom, currently provides space for the Press, Corporate Watch, the Advisory Service for Squatters, SF and LCAP which otherwise would be way beyond any of our reach. The Friends have nothing whatsoever to do with publishing decisions made by the Press.

So what he went after was the Press collective, which has no assets other than a couple of rooms full of books (which may be valued at quite a lot but can't be used to pay debts, sadly) and a small amount in the bank. And rather than do the decent thing and ask for a non-monetary solution like a public apology, he's rinsed it for as much as he can get away with.

The big problem here is that in doing so he has effectively bolloxed the main group in the building which pays most of its running costs through sales of various products. So by pressing his absurdly high claim he's putting the viability of not just the Press, but of the building and thus the future of some of the movement's most important groups at risk.

He has form for this shit and has so I hear been going after lots of other people too. He seems to be building up a retirement fund by going after anyone he can grab a few grand off regardless of how much it damages their ability to function - but hey, he still reckons he's "left wing" and "sympathetic" if you can work that one out.

Battlescarred
Jul 19 2012 11:09

This piece of excrement should be made unwelcome on any future events where he turns up to take photos. He's bankrupted Freedom and has no guilt about it at all. A miserable apology for a human being.

Rob Ray
Jul 19 2012 13:04

Hoffman in the process of really not getting this:

twitter.com/davidhoffmanuk

He seems to think accusing us of "thieving" his intellectual property is going to make all the anarchists like him again roll eyes.

Rob Ray
Jul 19 2012 13:14

It's not about the money IT'S A MATTER OF PRINCIPLE!!1!

But I DO get four large

raw
Jul 19 2012 13:17

he's a dirty little scumbag and should be treated as such

Spikymike
Jul 19 2012 13:32

Given the advantages of web based access and the increasing costs of printing and mailng I suspect the days of regularly published and distributed radical/revolutionary journals in hard copy is drawing to a close, which as an old-stager still preferring that format for anything longer than a couple of pages is disapointing.

I have been one of the more recent regular subscribers to Freedom and whilst it's not the most interesting of journals around it still performs a useful function. It is one of several printed journals I subsribe to and partly for the reason that I have experienced two lengthy internet disconnections in the past. It may be that some of those old skills will be still be needed from time to time if, or when, those with the political and commercial controls of the Internet decide to selectively shut down or censor our other means of communication?

oisleep
Jul 19 2012 17:03

David Hoffman should be made persona non grata at any marches, demonstrations or other left wing events due to his role in all this

This supposed anti-fascist, who made a career off the back of photographing anti-fascists 'at work' and receiving protection from same that allowed him to do so, has prioritised his own greed and self interest above any political principles whatsoever. He has also allowed himself to be used as the useful idiot of those with a more sinister & political agenda

He also relished with glee the prospect of several long term militant anti-fascists from AFA being named in court, with the potential of exposing and linking them to activities described in the book, all of which he saw as a by-product/collateral damage of him pursuing a claim for copyright of photos which had been legitimately given to AFA over twenty years ago and had been used in numerous publications in the past without any complaint from him.

He also attempted to force journalists who had interviewed the authors to reveal their sources (through threats of legal action) despite this being in clear contradiction of NUJ rules, of which he is a member

He also refused to accept an early settlement made on good faith and boasted about his desire to put Freedom Press out of business

Earlier this year he sued a drugs charity (and a primary care trust) for using photographs in good faith that they believed they had the right to use, this ultimately ended up closing down the charity and he successfully established the precedent that 'innocence is no defence'

The guy is a fucking parasite and should be treated as such by anyone involved in progressive politics

oisleep
Jul 19 2012 17:12

Also just to clarify, the photos weren't used accidentally - they were used on the understanding that AFA had the right to use them, as said photos had been supplied to AFA over a number of years by Searchlight (who Hoffman was a snapper for) in exchange for intelligence and had been used in numerous AFA publications over the previous twenty years with no complaint from any party

Then all of a sudden with the publication of the book, a claim was made that these photos had been stolen from Hoffman (despite no crime ever being reported in the intervening 20 years where the photos had been used on regular occasions in various other publications)

From the very outset of this though, it's been clear that there was also another agenda at play and not just the narrow pursuit of copyright by an individual - so while it's crap what has happened in relation to him extracting the 4 grand from freedom, this outcome wasn't the outcome that he and his backers were ultimately looking for

Battlescarred
Jul 19 2012 17:19

Does the NUJ know about this foul behaviour?

oisleep
Jul 19 2012 17:37

Yes - apparently anarchist donnacha delong (sp?) was helping Hoffman out with his case against FP

Ed
Jul 19 2012 18:22
oisleep wrote:
Yes - apparently anarchist donnacha delong (sp?) was helping Hoffman out with his case against FP

Seriously?! Donnacha posts here so I'd like to hear his side on this (i.e. is it true or not?).. if it is then personally I think Donnacha should be isolated out of the movement as well..

Steven.
Jul 19 2012 18:40

Yeah, someone should contact Donnacha for his side of the story. But if that is true that is totally unacceptable. And as for this photographer guy, what a total piece of shit.

working class s...
Jul 19 2012 19:08

David Hoffman ‏@davidhoffmanuk
I tried 2 let F'dom off with few 100 but their lies, theft & obstruction sank them.

working class s...
Jul 19 2012 19:09

David Hoffman ‏@davidhoffmanuk
I tried 2 let F'dom off with few 100 but their lies, theft & obstruction sank them.

klas batalo
Jul 19 2012 21:02

anyone have any friends with anonymous? black bloc

oisleep
Jul 19 2012 21:04
Ed wrote:
oisleep wrote:
Yes - apparently anarchist donnacha delong (sp?) was helping Hoffman out with his case against FP

Seriously?! Donnacha posts here so I'd like to hear his side on this (i.e. is it true or not?).. if it is then personally I think Donnacha should be isolated out of the movement as well..

At one point he did appear to be acting as some kind of representative for Hoffman, presumably in his NUJ capacity (I have been blind copied on various emails between FP and him in relation to this, so it's not just hearsay)

He should tell his side of the story though as you say

oisleep
Jul 19 2012 21:14
working class self organisation wrote:
David Hoffman ‏@davidhoffmanuk
I tried 2 let F'dom off with few 100

He's a lying prick

Since he first raised this thing in October 2011, he persistently refused to even discuss any kind of settlement that FP had offered him. And the reason why he refused? Because he wouldn't begin to talk about anything until FP had handed over names & addresses of the authors of the book. A strange approach for someone to take who on the surface was only interested in pursuing his copyright claim with the publishers of the book. FP quite rightly refused to give him this information (they didn't have it anyway, but they were still pressurised by Trading Standards under threat of criminal charge to reveal what information they did have, which they also admirably refused to do )

He took a similar approach with a journalist who had posted a copy of the cover pic on his blog - demanded money for copyright infringement but offered to waive it if said journalist revealed his sources and handed over names & addresses of the authors of the book

I'll leave you all to join up the dots as to why a Searchlight snapper & representative would be interested in these kind of details

donnacha.delong
Jul 19 2012 22:13

I was asked by David to be an intermediate between him and Freedom Press because I knew them. I did so, trying to help both sides come to an agreement. David wasn't happy with Freedom Press' response, so decided to take legal action. I withdrew from the process at that stage and did not help him after that point. Andy Meinke and Dean Talent can confirm that this was my only involvement.

Mr. Jolly
Jul 19 2012 22:49

He also fucked over a fellow NUJ member Brian Whelan because he used one of the photographs in his blog where he interviews the authors, refused to hand over names and so had to pay up. Is it tolerable that NUJ members should be asking other members to reveal their sources?

http://brianwhelan.net/post/6033834484/street-politics-beating-the-fascists

Choccy
Jul 19 2012 22:50

What a piece of fucking leeching shit.

raw
Jul 19 2012 22:58

I think it should be "movement" policy to tell this guy to fuck off out of any demo he is seen on. agree?

Choccy
Jul 19 2012 23:07

Absolutely, parasitic fucking dickhead.

Rob Ray
Jul 20 2012 07:35
Quote:
This supposed anti-fascist, who made a career off the back of photographing anti-fascists 'at work' and receiving protection from same that allowed him to do so

He should be billed for close protection services, reckon it'd come to a bit more than £4,000 wink

Edit: Interesting, one of Hoffman's mates on Twitter writes:

Quote:
Young whippersnapper, angry young zealot even, there's a backstory beyond even that (you weren't there)

Basically saying this is in part about going after Red Action? Would certainly explain the insistence of a supposed journalist on other people naming their sources.

Mr. Jolly
Jul 20 2012 08:04

Or he is hinting that the Photographer has a personal gripe with RA, rather than a wider conspiracy with Searchlight?

rat
Jul 20 2012 08:14

Maybe this unfortunate incident will help to remind British anarchists that journalists do tend to be parasites and never to trust any of them.

Rob Ray
Jul 20 2012 08:28

I'm a journalist. And the third longest-serving member of the Freedom Press collective. And the second longest continuously-serving member of North London SolFed. And an editor of Black Flag. And have never come close to abusing my position to damage any left wing or anarchist organisation.

Want to try "any" again?

Mr. Jolly
Jul 20 2012 08:29
zero wrote:
Maybe this unfortunate incident will help to remind British anarchists that journalists do tend to be parasites and never to trust any of them.

Sadly this is the all to common paranoid angle that some anarchists have about anyone outside certain subcultural bubbles, it doesn't do us any favours.

rat
Jul 20 2012 09:05

I'll try again:

Journalists do tend to be parasites; never trust any of them.

Rob Ray
Jul 20 2012 09:01

Well I respect your stubborn streak at least, you might want to rethink the acting like a massive idiot bit though.