Tag Archives: transcontinental master author agreement

It’s On: Badwritingcontracts.ca Website Launches To Combat Transcontinental Contract and Others

Below, I will be reprinting the text of the press release. I’d like to state why I’m posting it on here.

It isn’t necessary to be a member of any of the associations that have banded together to fight bad treatment of writers in Canada through abusive contracts to do something about it. You may be a new writer that can’t quite justify the cost of membership, or an old one that feels that an association is unnecessary for you given your burgeoning portfolio. Whoever you are, if you work in any way with the written word, get involved in whatever way you can in order to support your fellow writers and their refusal to keep on working for less than they made in the 1980’s. Thanks!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Canadian Writers Launch BadWritingContracts.ca to Educate Writers and Public About Unfair Transcontinental Media contract

(November 4, 2009) A coalition of more than a dozen Canadian writers’ organizations today launched a new website, http://www.BadWritingContracts.ca, to raise awareness about the unfair and damaging freelance contract from Transcontinental Media. This follows a September 30 announcement by the coalition that called on Canadian writers to not write for Transcontinental publications.

BadWritingContracts.ca offers the latest news and information about the campaign against Transcontinental Media, one of the country’s largest publishers of magazines and newspapers. The website provides:

  • A clear dissection of the Transcontinental contract, outlining why it’s a bad deal for writers.
  • A list of Transcontinental publications to avoid, as well as access to a free, confidential consultation service for writers. Anyone considering pitching a Transcontinental publication can visit the website and contact an industry expert who will help suggest alternative markets for their story.
  • A page that fact checks statements made by Transcontinental executives.
  • A list of ways for writers and members of the public to get involved and show their support for a compromise solution to this dispute.
  • A regularly-updated blog.

The website is being launched in conjunction with a Facebook group (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=187790340352) and Twitter account (http://www.twitter.com/badcontracts) to help spread information and awareness about Transcontinental’s contract, and the company’s refusal to engage in negotiation with writers.

Background: A Refusal to Negotiate

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.

In June, the country’s largest writing organizations, in cooperation with major literary agencies, approached Transcontinental in the hope of reaching a compromise. The coalition raised four primary concerns with the contract:

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.

Since meeting with representatives from the coalition, the company has stated that it has no intention of altering the contract. It has also instructed its editors to not offer any assignments unless a writer has signed the controversial contract.

An Unprecedented Coalition

The coalition consists of 14 groups, which together represent thousands of Canadian writers:

  • Anne McDermid & Associates
  • Association des journalistes indépendants du Québec
  • Canadian Authors Association
  • Canadian Freelance Union
  • Canadian Writers Group
  • The Cooke Agency
  • Federation of BC Writers
  • Professional Writers Association of Canada
  • Quebec Writers Federation
  • Saskatchewan Writers Guild
  • Toronto Writers’ Centre
  • Westwood Creative Artists
  • Writers Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador
  • The Writers’ Union of Canada

For Additional Information

Derek Finkle
Canadian Writers Group
416-469-3333
Derek@canadianwritersgroup.com

Tanya Gulliver

President, Professional Writers Association of Canada

647-236-7589

tanyagulliver@gmail.com

Transcontinental Digital Properties to Avoid

There has been a lot of talk about which Transcontinental magazines to avoid, but don’t forget to avoid clicking on ads and writing for the following Transcon-owned sites as well:

Acquizition.biz
Askmen.com
Lebelage.ca
Canadiangardening.com
Canadianhomeandcountry.com
Canadianliving.com
Coupdepouce.com
Decormag.com
Ellecanada.com
Ellequebec.com
Jardinage.net
Finance-Investissement.com
Goodtimes.ca
Homemakers.com
Investmentexecutive.com
JournalMetro.com
Lesaffaires.com
Lesaffaires.tv
Madame.ca
Merkado.ca
Mochasofa.com
Mokasofa.ca
More.ca
Ottawaathome.ca
Portailconstructo.com
Maisonmax.com
Publisac.ca
Recettes.qc.ca
Recipefeast.com
SÉAO.ca
Servicevie.com
Styleathome.com
Thatsthespirit.com
Thehockeynews.com
Thehockeynews.tv
Thn.Poolexpert.Com
Trucsmaison.com
Tvguide.ca
Vanmag.com
Visiondurable.com
Vitamagazine.ca
Weblocal.ca
Westernliving.ca

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:

Acquizition.biz
Affaires Plus
Askmen.com
Bel Âge
Canadian Gardening
Canadian Home & Country
Canadian Living
Commerce
Constructo
Coup de Pouce
Courrier Laval
Décormag
Elle Canada
Elle Québec
Finance et Investissement
Fleurs Plantes Jardins
Good Times
Homemakers
Investment Executive
Journal Métro
L’Action
La Nouvelle Union
La Revue
Les Affaires
L’Hebdo Journal
Madame
Maison D’aujourd’hui
Merkado.ca
More
Novanewsnow.com
Ottawa At Home
Portailconstructo.com
Prince Albert Daily Herald
Productions Maison Direct
Progrès Saint-Léonard
Publisac
Québec Hebdo
Québec Vert
Recettes.qc.ca
Recipefeast.com
Séao.ca
Servicevie.com
Style at Home
The Chronicle
The Guardian
The Hockey News
The Telegram
Trucsmaison.com
TVGuide.ca
Vancouver Magazine
Vision Durable
Vita
Voir Vert
Weekly Journal
Western Living

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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

416-469-3333

David Johnston

Executive Director,

Professional Writers Association of Canada

416-504-1645