TC Media is backing down
from proposed freelance contract changes that raised eyebrows and tempers across the industry earlier this year due to heavy binds it placed on contributors.
The revised contracts would have granted wide-ranging rights to the publisher, including full worldwide copyright in perpetuity across all of its brands and delivery platforms, and required a waiver of moral rights from writers and photographers.
At the time, Susan Antonacci, TC Media associate publisher for consumer solutions in Toronto and Vancouver, described the contract terms to thestoryboard.ca
as a "safety net" for the company in a cross-media publishing environment where content can move across properties.
Groups including The Canadian Media Guild (CMG), the Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC), the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union (CEP) and its freelance local, the Canadian Freelance Union (CFU), the Writers’ Union of Canada, and l’Association des journalistes indépendants du Québec (AJIQ), stood in opposition and raised their voices.
Following discussions with its freelancers, according to an email exchange with company rep Katherine Chartrand, TC Media will aim "to be more flexible and agile" in its pursuit to manage content in a multi-platform world.
TC Media is now offering a licensing contract that grants the company exclusive rights to first publication. "Generally speaking, this right is exclusive for a period of 12 months following first publication, and then becomes non-exclusive," Chartrand said.
"When the exclusivity period has expired, TC Media can continue to use the work across its platforms and brands; freelancers retain their copyright and can reuse/resell their work. Freelancers retain moral rights with respect to the content," she said.
The recent controversy is not the first time TC Media has come under fire for encroaching on contributor rights. In 2009, a number of Canadian writer's groups issued a boycott
in response to contract revisions.