04 November 2004
Guild protests CanWest's 'abusive' freelancer
Writers' groups denounce media conglomerate
for 'using its clout to gang up on the little guy'
Guild | TNG
Canada Local 30213
The Canadian Media Guild is joining a chorus
of writers’ groups in denouncing a new contract CanWest
Global Communications Corp. is imposing on its freelance
The new contract forces freelancers to
waive their copyright and other “moral rights” so
CanWest can re-use their material in any way in its newspapers,
Internet sites and television stations, says Lise Lareau,
president of the Canadian Media Guild, which represents 6,000
media employees across the country and has a freelance branch
of about 600 members.
The CMG is a Local of TNG Canada, which
represents hundreds of employees at CanWest daily newspapers
across the country. It is among several groups, including
the Periodical Writers Association of Canada (PWAC), calling
on CanWest to drop the proposed contract.
“The level of concentration of media
ownership in Canada means there are only a handful of media
owners left, and this one is using its clout to gang up on
the little guy,” says Lareau. “It’s pushing
the limit on copyright law, labour law and individual writers’ ability
to make a living.”
PWAC is also urging all independent writers
to refuse to sign the contract. "The Copyright Act clearly
states what we write belongs to us," says president
Liz Warwick. "It's
not reasonable to ask us to give our work away for nothing."
Under terms of the new contract,
CanWest is seeking the right to “exclusively use
and exploit the Content in any manner and in any and all
media, whether now known or hereafter devised, throughout
the universe, in perpetuity.”
The contract also stipulates that
the freelancer must waive all “moral rights” in and to the Content, meaning
that it can be manipulated in any way CanWest sees fit, without
authorization by the person whose name will appear on the
work. “This is an aggressive and abusive approach to
people who write Canada’s stories,” says Lareau.
Because some freelance work is also
done by employees at some newspapers, the Guild is also
troubled by the contract’s
attempt to infringe on labour rights. The contract specifically
states that freelancers who sign it “are not subject
to any union or collective bargaining agreement."