PWAC’s letter of support for the ERDC

Further to this post about the court hearings currently underway in Montreal, below is the letter of support prepared by our national president and executive director. Craig Silverman, our chapter president, presented the letter in court yesterday but was prevented from reading its contents into the record. He did however get the opportunity to offer some testimony, which he wrote about here. The hearings continue today and tomorrow in room 16.01 at the Palais de Justice. They are open to the public.

Professional Writers Association of Canada
215 Spadina Avenue, Suite #123
Toronto ON M5T 2C7

February 21, 2008

Honourable Justice Eva Petras, j.c.s,

The Professional Writers Association of Canada appreciates this opportunity to provide support to the Electronic Rights Defence Committee’s request for class action authorization. PWAC, established in 1976, is a national organization representing 600 professional freelance writers and journalists across Canada. It has followed the ERDC’s case with interest and support since 1997 when class action proceedings were begun.

PWAC maintains the principle that copyright must remain with the creator unless explicitly relinquished. Too many Canadian writers now have to contend with protecting their rights. We agree with many of the organizations represented here today in saying that the terms of many contracts being issued are simply untenable for a working writer. This is a sad message being sent throughout the industry.

A freelance writer’s livelihood is dependent upon the freelance work they do for various publications. We have a strong interest in seeing that electronic rights are fairly negotiated in the contracts with media organizations, particularly with regards to compensation and copyright. Obviously, extended rights are valuable or media organizations would not be demanding them, so what they are saying to writers is, “We value the rights you have over your work, but not enough to pay for them.”

There is an increased reliance on freelance writers (“independent contractors”) within the media in Canada, and freelance writers have always positioned themselves as equal partners in producing content. Clearly, there is a need for change in the contractual arrangements so the industry can move forward with a positive understanding of the rights of writers.

Sincerely,

Carolyn Gibson, National President, PWAC
John Degen, Executive Director, PWAC

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