Settlement reached in freelancers’ lawsuit

An $11 million settlement has been reached in a lawsuit over compensation for electronic reproduction of freelancers’ work.

CTVglobemedia Inc., owner of The Globe and Mail, Thomson Reuters Canada Ltd. and The Gale Group Inc. have agreed to pay $11 million to settle the class action lawsuit, which was launched 13 years ago by Heather Robertson.

The companies made no admission of wrongdoing.

The Globe reports:

“The overriding issues were clarified by the Supreme Court of Canada in a 2006 ruling, when the top court said reproductions that are faithful to the original publication – such as the entire pages that appear on a CD-ROM – do not qualify for extra payments. But Ms. Robertson continued to pursue her case for those whose work was resold on databases in a piecemeal text-only form – which the Supreme Court said was not within publishers’ reprint rights.”

Robertson called the settlement “fair and reasonable” and said:

“It has really made people aware of the importance of our intellectual property and of getting fair compensation for it.”

And the Globe‘s vice-president general counsel Sue Gaudi said:

“We are pleased to have achieved this settlement agreement and agree that it is a fair one. It is primarily a historical matter from the days before The Globe and Mail entered into written contracts with our freelance contributors. We value our relationships with our freelancers and are happy to move on.”

On April 15, the Electronic Rights Defence Committee (ERDC) announced a group of freelancers won authorization from the Quebec Superior Court to pursue a class action suit against the Montreal Gazette, Canwest and other related companies for republishing freelance articles in the Infomart database without compensation.