Thursday, 20 March 2014

The Debt That Writers and Readers Owe to Heather Robertson

Very soon the Electronic Rights Defence Committee may finally distribute the settlement it  received from Postmedia: I spent part of the weekend writing resolutions that will be needed to set up a post office box and the like. They will be considered on Monday at the ERDC's annual general meeting.

The ERDC's class action over electronic reproduction of articles written by freelance writers in The Gazette has been going on since 1996.  The way has been up and down, but what success we've had, we owe to a class action started about the same time (and successfully finished two years ago) against the Thomson press empire by Heather Robertson.

She forged ahead, pushing her legal team on behalf of freelance writers to pursue the matter all the way to the Supreme Court.  The 5-4 decision in favour of writers is a landmark one, and has meant both money in writers' pockets and the reaffirmation of the principle that copyright lies with creators unless expresssly ceded. 

This may seem like unimportant technical stuff to readers, but it has wide implications.  Given the changing information model, it allows writers to make a little money from their work thus encouraging a professional corps of news gatherers and analysts.  Without them no democracy can operate.

1 comment:

Martin Langeland said...

Thank you, Mary, for all your hard work on this!