Canadian Magazine Industry News
12 June 2009,     TORONTO
New Transcontinental contract criticized as a "rights grab"
A new contract being sent to freelance contributors by Transcontinental Media is unusual for a number of reasons:
  1. It's called a "Master Agreement," meaning that once a writer signs it, the terms apply to every story he or she writes for Transcontinental.
  2. It gives Transcontinental, "without limitation, 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."
  3. Transcontinental also gets the right to publish the work in any medium "including, without limitation, all digital and electronic media now known or hereafter created."
  4. It gives Transcontinental the right to publish the work for "promotional purposes relating to the Publisher or Brand under which the Work is published."
The bottom of the contact also states that Transcontinental's "accounting department will not process payment for your Work(s) unless your invoice is preceded by a signed Master Agreement."

Obviously, this has freelancers such as Kim Pittaway concerned.

In a note to the Toronto Freelance Editors and Writers e-mail group, Pittaway wrote:
"I don't object to selling rights. I do object to having them grabbed. And I don't see any sign that Transcon is going to increase its base rates to cover the expansion of the contract."
The Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC), the Canadian Writers Group (CWG) and others have been in contact with Transcontinental and are preparing a formal response.

"I don't understand why companies that sell their products on multiple platforms for a fee think writers should be giving away usage in multiple formats for free," Derek Finkle, founder and principal of CWG.

The contract, Finkle says, muddies the copyright waters, which could spoil an author's potential to score a book or film deal based on something written for a Transcontinental magazine or website. Even worse, he says, "theoretically, Transcontinental could sell TV or film rights and the writer wouldn't see a dime." 

More as this develops.
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