Kevin Bent, Publisher
Pacific Newspaper Group

Dear Kevin,

Members of CEP Local 2000 are very concerned about the contract that freelancers working for the Sun and Province are being asked to sign.

A study conducted by Statistics Canada reveals that incomes for freelance writers have fallen over the past 25 years. Other research confirms that working as a freelancer is becoming an ever more difficult way to earn a living and yet most media corporations continue to rely on them to fill many pages of newspapers, magazines and advertising supplements.

The poor terms demanded by the Canwest freelance contract only worsens these already unacceptable conditions and threatens the hard-won standards and freedoms of journalists everywhere-whether employed or freelance. This is most clearly exemplified by the demand in the contract that writers give up their moral rights to their work thereby stripping the most fundamental aspect of any freelance writer-the right to possess their own creativity and innovation. Moral rights are critical to ensuring a freelancer gets credit when her/his work is used or re-used. Canwest does not need to hold moral rights in order conduct normal editing of a freelancer's work. This would be the case only if the intent was to change a freelancer's work beyond its original meaning.

The overarching aim of the contract appears to be making clear that a freelancer is not an employee, yet at the same giving PNG and Canwest  the same rights as if the freelancer were an employee. This is especially troubling to CEP Local 2000, which represents over a thousand PNG and  other Canwest employees. If PNG-owned Canwest seeks the rights of an employer then it must offer the "freelancer" the corresponding rights of an employee, including union membership.

We urge you to reconsider the terms and conditions that have been imposed with this new contract and respect the right of freelancers to negotiate their terms and retain the moral rights to their work.

CEP Local 2000
Media Union of BC

LETTER #2:  http://www.travelmedia.ca/r_canwest.shtml

The Canadian Media Guild, a creator union representing workers at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation among other places, has sent an open letter to the executive editor of the Ottawa Citizen, which is the latest
Canwest paper to implement a new blanket contract for freelance writers. Here is the letter:
   Graham N. Green
   Executive Editor
   Ottawa Citizen

    Mr. Green:

    We note with alarm that the Citizen is proposing a new boilerplate contract to freelancers - a contract that makes exaggerated demands upon writers who seek to earn a living from their work.
    The most troubling demand is that freelance authors waive their moral rights in the work they provide. Moral rights give the author creative ownership over their work and ensure they get credit when that work is used or re-used. It is the most fundamental right a writer has, and it is simply unacceptable to expect freelancers to surrender it outright. A media organization does not need to hold moral rights to be able to subject a piece to the normal editing process. In our view, the only reason a company would need to hold the moral rights would be to have the unfettered right to modify an item beyond its original meaning. Surely this is not the Citizen's aim.
    It is clear that the contract seeks to characterize these authors as non-employees of the newspaper. At the same time, though, the contract is designed to give the company the same rights to the material as if the freelancer were an employee - including the right to generate further profit for Citizen owner Canwest by making the items available via the Canwest News Service. In other words, this contract seeks to give the Citizen and Canwest all of the rights of an employer, while denying these writers any of the corresponding rights as an employee.
   A number of freelancers have approached the Canadian Media Guild with significant concerns about the contract. We are recommending strongly that freelancers reject this unnecessary grab at their rights, and that they propose more balanced contract terms. We hope and expect that you will accept any reasonable counterproposal made by freelance writers, and furthermore that you will modify your boilerplate language so as to show a modicum of respect for freelancers. By not doing so, you run the risk of losing many of the people who contribute so much to the content of your newspaper.
    Don Genova, Freelance Branch President 
    & Lise Lareau, National President
For further information: visit www.cmg.ca 

Canadian Creators' Coalition: a group of 19 professional associations of individual creators and performers, and copyright collective societies active in theatre, the visual arts, the applied arts, literature, music, recording and audiovisual (radio, television, film and commercials). Together, these associations and collectives represent more than 100,000 creators (authors and performers) who are copyright owners. The C.C.C defends the interests of authors and performers in the revision of the Copyright Act of Canada. Read their position paper at:  http://www.pwac.ca/about/pwacadvocacy