TC Media has ramped up the agreement they impose on their freelance contributors and are apparently now insisting on not only full copyright but also a waiver of moral rights.According to a report on Story Board, the new contract terms not only specifies a full transfer of copyright but that is also that it relates to the more than 30 Transcon titles, not just the assigning one. And the moral rights waiver would give Transcon the right to change an article, with or without the writer's byline.
"[T]he problem with this agreement is that it covers everything you ever do for them. So once you sign it for one thing, it applies to everything else," says Derek Finkle of the Canadian Writers Group, an agency for writers. "For something that’s more personal, or something that has some unique reportage in it, or something that could potentially be spun out into a book or another article or a television show or a documentary, it starts to get really problematic because you’ve now given up your copyright, it seems to me, not just to the words but even to the idea,” he says.
The last draft contract which Transcon imposed starting in 2009 led to a boycott campaign by about 15 writers' organizations, yet didn't go nearly so far as this latest version. One long-time contributor to Transcon publication says she has decided to refuse to sign the new omnibus agreement, thereby terminating her relationship with the company.
“It rankled because the worldwide rights are overreaching, to say the least. To be told that as a writer you’re giving up all your publishing rights, print, digital, audio and any other media yet to be invented for the entire universe and that they can make changes without discussing with the writer, that’s just disheartening,” she says.Don Genova presidetn of the freelance branch of the Canadian Media Guild, says
“This new Transcontinental contract is much worse for freelancers than even the one the company imposed in 2009,” he says. “At that time, some freelancers decided to stop doing work for the company but many of us felt more could have been done to pressure the company to back off if freelancers were better organized. This time, the Canadian Media Guild is in a position to bring freelancers into the union and back a collective action and support individual freelancers who join the effort. If enough freelancers affected by this contract join with us, we can stand together to stop this unreasonable Transcontinental grab from becoming the norm in the publishing business.”