PWAC and Other Writer’s Organizations Band Together In Solidarity Against Transcontinental’s New “Master Agreement”

Hi all – please find below the exact text of the press release. I’ll post more on this issue in the next few days, but for now please contact any one of the coalition member agencies for more information on the situation with Transcontinental Media. Link to PDF of release.

The reason I am posting this here is that Transcontinental will increasingly turn to non-participating freelance writers to fill the void. While the master agreement is touted as “fair”, I think you’ll agree after reading this that it really isn’t. No kill fees, the right to use your articles on multiple websites after they are published in a Transcontinental magazine, etc. If you already rely on them for your bread and butter, you may have already signed the agreement, but if not please watch this space for a post on when they’ve sorted it out before applying to any of their media. There are too many fish in the sea to worry about the one that is going to mess around with your copyright.

To see the full text of the agreement click here.

List of Transcontinental’s Brands

Until this issue is settled, try to stay away from writing for:
Affaires Plus
Bel Âge
Canadian Gardening
Canadian Home & Country
Canadian Living
Coup de Pouce
Courrier Laval
Elle Canada
Elle Québec
Finance et Investissement
Fleurs Plantes Jardins
Good Times
Investment Executive
Journal Métro
La Nouvelle Union
La Revue
Les Affaires
L’Hebdo Journal
Maison D’aujourd’hui
Ottawa At Home
Prince Albert Daily Herald
Productions Maison Direct
Progrès Saint-Léonard
Québec Hebdo
Québec Vert
Style at Home
The Chronicle
The Guardian
The Hockey News
The Telegram
Vancouver Magazine
Vision Durable
Voir Vert
Weekly Journal
Western Living


Canadian writers unite in opposition to Transcontinental Media

(Toronto – September 30, 2009) In an unprecedented coalition, more than a dozen Canadian writers’ organizations are calling on the thousands of writers they represent to not write for any publications owned by Transcontinental Media, effective immediately. This act of protest is directed at the company’s new contract for freelance contributors, which these groups, including the Professional Writers Association of Canada and the Canadian Writers Group, believe to be abusive of writers’ rights.

Earlier this summer, Transcontinental Media began sending a new freelance contract – which it calls a “Master Author Agreement” – to the many writers who contribute to its stable of publications, including Canadian Living, More, Elle Canada, Homemakers, and Vancouver Magazine. When this Master Author Agreement was unveiled, respected magazine industry consultant D.B. Scott referred to it as a “take it or leave it” rights grab that, “in effect, indentures the writer and their work to Transcon.”

In mid-June, Derek Finkle, of the Canadian Writers Group, and David Johnston, executive director of the Professional Writers Association of Canada, sent a letter to Jacqueline Howe, Transcontinental Media’s group publisher and vice president for English Canada, requesting a meeting to discuss their concerns about the new Master Author Agreement. This letter was co-signed by many provincial and national organizations, including the following:

• Canadian Freelance Union

• Canadian Writers Group

• The Cooke Agency

• Federation of BC Writers

• Professional Writers Association of Canada

• Quebec Writers Federation

• Westwood Creative Artists

• Writers Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador

• The Writers’ Union of Canada

On July 16, Finkle and Johnston, along with their legal counsel, Iain MacKinnon, met with Howe and Pierre Marcoux, Transcontinental Media’s senior vice president of the business and consumer solutions group. Finkle and Johnston raised four primary concerns:

1. Transcontinental’s new contract was muddying the copyright waters. The Master Author

Agreement grants copyright of each work to the author but then undercuts this copyright by licensing the following extraordinary rights: “The ongoing non-exclusive right to do in respect of the Work any other act that is subject to copyright protection under the Canadian Copyright Act (including, 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.”

2. The agreement is permanent. Once signed, it covers all future work for Transcontinental publications.

3. Transcontinental has no intention of compensating freelancers for the many additional

uses of their work. In essence, the company wants to continue paying what it’s been

paying for decades for basic first publication rights but now get unlimited rights to

writers’ work.

4. The Master Agreement is one-sided. It makes no mention of payment terms, kill fees,

provisions for libel suits, and other important issues that are part of any balanced

contributor’s agreement.

On September 1, Marcoux stated that Transcontinental does not intend to make any changes to the contract at the present time. This was in spite of the concerns voiced by just about every writers group, association, federation, agency, and union in the country.

As a result, these organizations are making an unprecedented stand against

Transcontinental’s Master Author Agreement. This coalition has also now grown to include:

• Anne McDermid & Associates

• Association des journalistes indépendants du Québec

• Canadian Authors Association

• Toronto Writers’ Centre

The coalition’s campaign to oppose this contract includes the following:

1. A mass communications effort to inform and encourage writers across the country to

not write for Transcontinental publications, an effort that will be monitored by the

participating organizations and by writers themselves. The coalition will also assist

writers in locating alternative markets for their work.

2. A national petition.

3. Lobbying of the federal ministries of industry and heritage. In addition to funding for

the magazine industry, these ministries are currently overseeing changes to Canadian

copyright law.

4. A multi-platform campaign to make advertisers in Transcontinental publications aware

of the company’s heavy handed attitude towards an important part of the massive

cultural sector.

5. A unique and creative mass effort to implore Transcontinental editors to strive for

change within their own company.

These actions will be rolled out in the coming weeks to show Transcontinental Media that its publications – and, by extension, its readers and advertisers – will suffer significant consequences by moving forward with this contract.

For more information, contact:

Derek Finkle

Canadian Writers Group


David Johnston

Executive Director,

Professional Writers Association of Canada



8 Responses to “PWAC and Other Writer’s Organizations Band Together In Solidarity Against Transcontinental’s New “Master Agreement””

  1. Ooof. Brutal. Very interesting, though. Thanks for posting this. Keep us updated!

    September 30, 2009 at 11:42 am
  2. Patrick Walsh #

    Outdoor Canada and Canadian Home Workshop are no longer owned by Transcontinental. They are now owned by Quarto Communications, publishers of Cottage Life and explore.

    September 30, 2009 at 2:13 pm
  3. admin #

    Noted, verified, and removed; although I would recommend taking down the Transcon branding from both websites as it may have some negative connotations until this is sorted out.

    September 30, 2009 at 2:18 pm
  4. Patrick Walsh #

    Thanks for that. Yes, we’re working on getting the Web site management transferred to Quarto, and switching over the branding.

    September 30, 2009 at 2:30 pm
  5. Isn’t this illegal anyway? I thought there was some big legal settlement 3 or 4 years ago (involving the Globe & Mail, wasn’t it?) that gave writers these rights that Transcontinental is attempting to take away now.

    They want us to be serfs. Period. To make them rich.

    October 1, 2009 at 12:37 pm


  1. Twitter Trackbacks for PWAC and Other Writer’s Organizations Band Together In Solidarity Against Transcontinental’s New “Master [] on - September 30, 2009

    […] PWAC and Other Writer’s Organizations Band Together In Solidarity Against Transcontinental’s New… – view page – cached Hi all – please find below the exact text of the press release. I’ll post more on this issue in the next few days, but for now please contact any one of the — From the page […]

  2. Canadian writers unite in opposition to Transcontinental Media | CRAIG SILVERMAN - September 30, 2009

    […] Writers Association of Canada, I have been involved in the drafting of the release. You can also go here to see a list of Transcontinental publications. Please spread the […]

  3. Caitlin Kelly - Broadside – Writers Across Country Oppose Abusive New Contract: Many Major Magazines Affected - True/Slant - October 1, 2009

    […] Canadian writers protest huge publisher’s abusive new contract. I admire the hell out of Derek Finkle and his fellow writers for taking a stand. Will anyone honor it and refuse to sell copy to these jerks? I hope so. It’s very tough in Canada to make a living as a freelance writer — rates are even lower than in the U.S. and there are many fewer markets to sell to. Publishers have always known that and taken advantage of their writers, whom they see as a desperate and captive audience.(When I planned an event on “writing for American publications” in October 2008 in Toronto, we got 94 people, an SRO crowd.) […]

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