Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Final settlement in class action suit preferable to drawn out trial, says Heather Robertson

Heather Robertson, the apparently indefatigable lead in the long-running lawsuit Robertson vs Thomson et al says that the settlement was preferable to going to trial and that it would mean more money, sooner, for freelance writers. 
As readers of this blog and other reports will know, the struggle (see this and  related posts below) concerns the allegation that the various publishers posted articles of freelance authors online without permission, contrary to Canadian copyright laws. It was announced earlier this month that a settlement had been reached for about $5.475 million with Toronto Star Newspapers Ltd., Rogers Publishing Limited, CEDROM-SNi Inc., ProQuest Information and Learning LLC. An earlier settlement was with Canwest in June and an even earlier settlement in May 2009 with The Thomson Corporation (now Thomson Reuters Corporation), Thomson Reuters Canada Limited, Thomson Affiliated and Information Access Company (formerly The Gale Group Inc.) and CTVglobemedia Publishing Inc. 
The settlements already made and the proposed settlement to be adjudicated in April total about $24 million. Writers will receiving an as-yet unspecified portion of this after legal fees from the suit are deducted. 
In a report that was published on the Toronto Freelance Editors and Writers listserv (available only to subscribers), Robertson said in part:
As with any lawsuit, there are risks of going to trial and it is possible a judge would find that the defendants did not breach copyright laws or that class members are not entitled to as much compensation as this settlement provides. The defendants have raised a number of complex defences as justification for their conduct. Overcoming these defences may be difficult and costly. This action also presents unique challenges to success. It is based on a provision of the federal Copyright Act that provides “statutory damages” to compensate for a copyright infringement. No court has applied a claim for statutory damages under the Copyright Act on this scale in similar circumstances. It is thus extremely difficult to anticipate the outcome of a trial.
She also said a settlement was preferable because a trial, even if successful, would draw the process out even longer.
A trial in this action could still be years away and, even if we won, it is a near certainty that the defendants would pursue any and all appeals.
She also reports that, in light of an earlier settlement with Canwest, any funds from the possible sale of Postmedia shares would add more(unpredictable)funds to the amount available to freelancers.
Over the next several months we will be working hard with the lawyers in this case to prepare for the settlement approval hearing in April 2011 and to design the claims process for the distribution of settlement funds to freelance authors and other persons that qualify as class members. Our objective is to create an efficient system for the distribution of settlement funds.
Writers who are members of the class action can obtain all of the details about the settlement hearing in April from the website of the law firm that is handling it, Koskie Minsky LLP.
Related posts:

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is there no permanent link to this post?

8:23 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Never mind, I found the permalink. The headline is not linked, though.

8:24 pm  
Blogger D. B. Scott said...

There is no link in the head because it cannot link to that particular listserv item.

9:46 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In general, though, blog entry titles should hyperlink to the page with that particular blog entry (not to an outside article). It helps us readers link to specific entries. Also, your header doesn't link back to your blogs home page, making it inconvenient for those of us who arrive via Twitter to get to the main page. Something I've been meaning to point out to you before...

Anon 3

12:40 am  
Blogger D. B. Scott said...

This is the first time somebody has objected to not being able to get to my blog's home page, whatever that is. All the posts are serially listed in the sidebar, as they have been since the blog started over 5 years ago.

12:55 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there a reason you don't want people to access the home page when they click on "CANADIAN MAGAZINES
NEWS, VIEWS AND REVIEWS OF THE CANADIAN MAGAZINE INDUSTRY" at the top of the page? It is the default in Blogger, but you've disabled that for some reason. Perhaps I'm the only one who wants to go to the most recent entry after arriving via a Twitter link.

I'm sorry if I offended you, which I apparently did...

2:34 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me explain using the blog that follows your (I clicked on "next blog" at the top).
If I scroll down the page and click on "randoms" (a heading), I get that page in isolation. If it's something that interests me, I'll copy that link and send it to others. On your blog, if I click on a similar heading, I get a different site. So, I may send that link to friends, but probably won't. Nor will I link directly to that entry of yours either, because I can't unless I dig around in your sidebar.

Now, back to the other blog. When I'm on that "randoms" page ( boy was it easy to link to!) and I wan't to go back to the beginning of the blog, I can click on "Skeletal Beach" at the top of the page, and presto, I'm there. On your blog, I don't get to the beginning, because that link isn't live.

What this means to you is that if I do bother to link via the sidebar (which I won't because that takes extra steps, especially if I have to search by date), the people I send that link to can't get back to the homepage easily and therefore might miss out on more recent entries and are less likely to bookmark your blog. In fact, the only way they can get to the beginning is to go to the sidebar and click on the first entry under "previous posts." How counterintuitive is that?

But anyway, you've been doing it your way for five years, so that's okay. Whatever works for you. I was just trying to help you make it more user-friendly. I have yet to find another Blogger blog that has your particular system of linking (or not linking) headings, so I figured you had some faulty programming, rather than a desire to be different.

2:48 am  
Blogger D. B. Scott said...

I'm not annoyed, just puzzled. As far as I know, and it has been that way from from day one. But only a fool doesn't take good advice, so I'll look into the coding as you suggest.

9:17 am  
Blogger D. B. Scott said...

As you'll see, I have now provided a link in the header.

10:54 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Returning to the subject of the Robertson class action cases.

I have never been able to find any information on how to file a claim in the Canwest settlement of last June. It is probably too late now, but does anyone have a link?

12:03 pm  
Blogger D. B. Scott said...

I would go to the law firm that represents the class action:


12:22 pm  

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