Transcontinental Media – analysis

Here’s the June ’09 Transcontinental Contract that’s caused many Canadian writers to blackban the publisher:

This contract was considered so unfair that a coalition of more than a dozen Canadian writers’ groups, which collectively represented thousands of writers, called on their members not write for any publications owned by Transcontinental.

Participating organisations included the Canadian Authors Association, the Canadian Freelance Union, the Canadian Writers Group, the Professional Writers Association of Canada, the Travel Media Association of Canada and The Writers’ Union of Canada along with many large regional writer’s groups.

The group listed more than fifty black-banned Transcontinental publications and offered to help freelancers who were writing for Transcontinental find alternative outlets for their work.  High profile Canadian journalists went public with their reasons for not signing the contract.

One of the key points of contention was that while writer’s kept their copyright, the contract licensed copyright to Transnational and undefined “associated brands”  forever on a non-exclusive basis, in any form or medium, for no compensation.

For a detailed understanding of the many problems with this contract, check out the Bad Writing Contracts blog here:

** Update on the Bad Writing Contracts Transcontinental Media Campaign: What happened next

July 9, 2010

Thanks to a Sydney freelancer who tracked down Craig Silverman, (one of the organisers of the Canadian Writer’s campaign against the terms of the Transcontinental media writing contract) and asked him for an update.

Silverman told our freelance source that the Transcontinental action hasn’t come to a full conclusion.

“Many writers no longer work for the company, but Transcon did not alter its contract. They simply work with whichever writers are willing to sign it. I guess you could call it a stalemate, except that the contract is still out there and being used. The site is meant to help make sure writers are aware that it’s a bad deal.”

With so many experienced Canadian writers abandoning Transcontinental, Silverman says there’s now a move to make sure this kind of contract doesn’t happen again:

“One separate initiative that’s currently underway is an effort to bring writers, editors and publishers together to agree on a set of best practices for the magazine industry when it comes to contracts, rights, pay rates etc. PWAC received a grant from the government to pursue this best practices guide and it’s currently being drafted. The goal is to get publishers to sign on to the guide the same way they have agreed to adhere to certain standards when it comes to advertising/editorial standards.”

Great move by the Professional Writers Association of Canada – one that plenty of other freelancers will be watching with interest!



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