Canadian Magazine Industry News
21 July 2009,     MONTREAL
Transcontinental ready to negotiate terms of new freelance contract
On July 16, Derek Finkle of the Canadian Writers’ Group (CWG) and David Johnston of the Professional Writers’ Association of Canada (PWAC), along with Finkle’s lawyer Iain McKinnon, met with senior executives at Transcontinental Media to discuss concerns over the new “Author Master Agreement”  being sent to freelance writers by Transcontinental.

“We’ve had a closed door discussion in good faith with them, but I don’t mind saying on the record that they have offered to make changes to their new master agreement,” Finkle said.

Finkle said his group's concerns include the fact that the new contract gives Transcontinental “the right to produce and reproduce, translate, develop ancillary products, perform in public, adapt and communicate the Work, in any form or medium, as well as to authorize others to do so on behalf of or in association with the Publisher."

The contract is also permanent, meaning it applies to any work done for the publisher now or in the future. Currently, Transcontinental will not work with a writer without receiving a signed copy of the new agreement.

“I think given the current economic climate and all the balls up in the air in our industry, in terms of rights and the online world, writers are insane [to sign this],” Finkle said. “And I think it’s perceived by most writers to be a fairly aggressive request, to ask a writer to sign something permanent at this juncture in time.”

Finkle and Johnston have gathered support from a number of writers’ organizations that are encouraging their members not to sign the contract until the matter has been resolved. These include:
  • Canadian Freelance Union (CFU)
  • The Cooke Agency
  • Federation of BC Writers
  • Quebec Writers Federation
  • Saskatchewan Writers Guild
  • Westwood Creative Artists
  • Writers Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Writers Federation of New Brunswick
  • Writers Federation of Nova Scotia
  • Writers Union of Canada
Finkle and Johnston say executives at Transcontinental are willing to negotiate the terms of the contract, and they’ll be speaking to their lawyers in Montreal in the next few days.

“I’m hoping it will be this week, or next week at the latest, because we have a lot of writers with stories on hold right now,” Finkle said. “So far, Transcontinental has shown a willingness to address our concerns.”
— Laura Godfrey
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