Last night was the annual general meeting of the Electronic Rights Defence Committee, a group which more than ten years ago took the first steps toward a multi-million dollar class action lawsuit against the publishers of The Gazette for copyright infringement of freelancers’ work dating back to 1985.
February 25-27 the Honourable Justice Eva Petras heard our request for class action authorization, and last night our lawyer Me Mireille Goulet gave a rundown on what she and the other side (now consisting of Montreal Gazette Group, CanWest Global Communications, Hollinger Canadian Publishing Holdings, CanWest Interactive, Southam and Southam Business Communications, Infomart Dialog and Cedrom-SNI) argued. David Homel, our class representative, was there too, as were several other stalwarts who attended the proceedings to show their solidarity.
We also elected a new executive. The previous members all wanted to continue and were re-elected unanimously so Ron Diamond will be treasurer; Jack Ruttan, secretary; and Ann Charney, Peter McFarlane, Stuart Robertson and Merrily Weisbord will continue as members-at-large, with myself as president. Tracy Arial and Julia Gedeon, who have been involved from the beginning, have also agreed to be members-at-large.
Me Goulet told us that we are not likely to get a decision on the class action authorization before the end of the summer: the judge has six months to study the case and render her verdict. But well before that we will launching a fund raising campaign to compensate Me Goulet. She’s been working without compensation for five years, and while she’ll get a percentage of the judgment when we get one, that may be a long time coming. So stay tuned for more about the campaign. We’ll have an announcement in a few weeks time.