Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Walrus magazine wants freelancers
to share legal costs

[This post has been corrected] The Walrus magazine is asking freelance writers to agree to new contract terms that makes them liable for 50% of any damages or costs arising from lawsuits. What's more, according to a post on the Canadian Media Guild website Story Board, it makes them agree to pay 50% of the publisher's costs in defending* a libel suit if not covered by insurance. This is despite the fact that a freelancer has no way of knowing what, if any, libel insurance the magazine carries. Elsewhere in the contract, the publisher reserves the final right to make "material changes to the work".
“The head scratching thing about this contract is that The Walrus wants to have its cake and eat it too. They want to have total control over the final content, but if there’s a legal problem, they want the writer to pay half,” said [literary agent Derek] Finkle. 
Asking a writer to put their assets at risk in a scenario where a publisher can make changes without the writer’s consent, he said, is unacceptable. “I don’t think they meant it this way, but it’s pretty insulting, really,” said Finkle.
[*The post referred to the Canadian Writers Group, a literary agency, rather than the Canadian Media Guild, a union which sponsors the Story Board website.] 

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