Archive for the ‘Robertson vs. Globe’ Category

Heather Robertson Obituary

The Electronic Rights Defence Committee is extremely saddened by the death of Heather Robertson, champion of Canadian writers. We are all in her debt.

Obituary link

Renowned King City author Heather Robertson a trailblazer for writers
Prolific author

Heather Robertson died in her sleep overnight Wednesday March 19, 2014 after a battle with cancer. She was 72.
King Connection

By Tim Kelly

King Township resident Heather Robertson, a well-known author who penned 17 books over a 40-year career and co-founded the Writer’s Union of Canada, died in her sleep overnight Wednesday after a battle with cancer. She was 72.

Born in Winnipeg in 1942, Ms Robertson graduated from the University of Manitoba in 1962 with an Honours BA in English.

Ms Robertson, who published her first book, Reservations are for Indians in 1970, wrote fiction and non-fiction during her long career.

In the 1980s, she won the Canada Best First Novel Award and the Canadian Authors’ Association Fiction Prize for Willie, A Romance, based on the life of former Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King.

She was also honoured for her 1995 look at R.S. McLaughlin, the founder of General Motors of Canada, in her book Driving Force, with a National Business Book Award.

Her 2003 book, Magical, Mysterious Lake of the Woods, won the Ontario Historical Society, Best Regional History award.

And in 2003, Ms Robertson was honoured with the Lawrence Jackson Award for Achievement by the Professional Writers Association of Canada.

Her last book, Walking into Wilderness: The Toronto Carrying Place and Nine Mile Portage, was published in 2010.

She earned an Honorary Doctor of Laws in 1998 from the University of Manitoba.

She also launched a successful lawsuit in 1995 against the Globe and Mail (Robertson v. Thomson Corp.) after it put three of her articles in its database.

The lawsuit went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada and resulted in a 2006, 5-4 judgment supporting the right of freelance journalists to protect the copyright of their work when newspapers put freelance work in their databases.

Ms Robertson was married to Andrew for 40 years. They have two children.

Annual General Meeting Reminder, and Heather Robertson

Hello, friends of the ERDC,

This is a reminder that the 2014 Annual General Meeting of the Electronic Rights Defence Committee will be held from 7 to 8:15 p.m. Monday March 24, 2014 in the offices of Sylvestre Fafard Painchaud, 740 Atwater, Montreal (near the Lionel Groulx Metro station)

On the agenda will be election of the new executive committee and several procedural resolutions necessary to proceed to the distribution process.

You will also find below an obituary for Heather Robertson who died March 19. She is the woman who led the way in Canada. We are all in her debt.

Jack Ruttan, Secretary
Mary Soderstrom, President

Canadian writer Heather Robertson passed away this morning (March 19) on her 72nd birthday.

She was an early bestselling author of Canadian nonfiction books (Reservations Are for Indians and Salt of the Earth are two early works that found large audiences.) Early in her career, she was a very well read and controversial columnist for Maclean’s Magazine, as well as a writer of well reported and beautifully written feature stories for most of the magazines in the country. She was also a co-founder of various writers’ organizations including the Periodical Writers’ Association of Canada, and The Writer’s Union of Canada, and helped talk the Canada Council into recognizing nonfiction writing as an art form. Most recently, Heather was lead plaintiff in two electronic rights class actions, the first of which clarified who owns the electronic rights to freelance works appearing in newspapers and periodicals. Robertson 1, as it is called, went all the way to the Supreme Court and then was settled to the great benefit of Canadian periodical writers, as was Robertson II.

Her career spans a very interesting period in this country and her writing changed the way we think about ourselves.

Reminder: only 11 days left to submit claims for Robertson II settlement!

Dear ERDC Members and supporters,

The folks at Koskie Minskie LLP Barristers and Solicitors pass on this timely reminder:

We want to remind freelance writers that the deadline to submit claims is October 15 and encourage them to make their claims as soon as possible. […]

Class members are reminded that the deadline for submitting claims is October 15, 2011. Any class member seeking compensation should submit their claims for compensation to the claims administrator, Duff & Phelps Canada
as soon as possible.

(please see the category “Heather Robertson vs. Toronto Star et al.” for forms and further information on claiming in this important action.)

Jack Ruttan, ERDC Secretary

Advice for Claiming on Robertson 2 Class Action Settlement‏

The deadline for filing in the second Robertson class action is coming up October 15, 2011. Here’s the link to the website where you can download the claim forms.

You’ll note that Heather Robertson started this class action mainly against the Toronto Star but several other publications have been added. Be sure and check out the list, which includes the Montreal Star.

The ERDC’s lawyers say that when you file your claim you don’t have to include the database on which your article was reproduced. What’s important is the date and where your articles were published originally..

If you’ve kept records of your publications, your job will be easy, but if you haven’t there are ways to find out the necessary information. Many municipal libraries subscribe to ProQuest (one of the defendants) or a similar database and you can do a search of that database using
your name. This will turn up a list of your publications.

If no library near you subscribes to such a database, you may be able to access one through the library of a university you attended (will require communicating with the library staff by phone or e-mail) or asking a friend with access to a municipal or university library to do the search for you.

Once you’ve made your list with the dates of original publication and the publications in which your articles appeared, attach it to your claim form and send them off.

Have fun!

By the way, we hope to have news about winding up the ERDC case soon.

Jack Ruttan, ERDC secretary

Mary Soderstrom, ERDC president

Claim Forms for freelancers involved in the Heather Robertson Class action

Here’s an important message in relation to the settlement in Heather Robertson’s recent class action on behalf of freelancers against the Toronto Star Newspapers, and other defendants. This comes to the ERDC courtesy of Koskie Minskie LLP, and any questions about it should be directed to them.

As you may know, the claims process has begun and class members are now able to submit their claims to the claims administrator (Duff & Phelps). The deadline for claims is October 15, 2011. As explained in the notices, the claim form and other information about the claims process can be obtained from the administrator’s website or our website

I also attach copies of the claim form (English and French) and the accompanying instructions for making claims (English and French) should you wish to post them on your site or otherwise distribute them.

Please note that anyone making a claim can contact the claims administrator directly if they have any questions about what to include in their claims. The claims administrator will be reviewing the claims and will ultimately determine whether to allow them.

The administrator can be reached at

Duff & Phelps Canada
80 Richmond Street West Suite 2000
Toronto, Ontario M5H 2A4
Telephone: +1 416 361 2590
Fax: +1 416 364 2904
Email address:

Here are links to PDF versions of the actual claim forms themselves in French and English, with separate forms containing instructions on how to claim:

Heather Robertson Class Action Settlement Approved

Here are links to PDFs in English and French describing the May 31, 2011 settlement reached in Heather Robertson’s class action against the Toronto Star Newspapers, and other defendants.,_2011.pdf

Ms. Robertson has also won the 2011 Graeme Gibson Award, from The Writers Union of Canada. You can read about that in a PDF linked here, which also describes a lot of the brilliant work Ms. Robertson has done in the area of electronic rights for freelancers in Canada.

French Version of Proposed Settlement Agreement in Heather Thompson Class Action

Download it in pdf form here.

New Year, and Proposed Settlement in Heather Robertson Class Action

It’s a new year for the ERDC and its class action. We’ll have information on the progress of the case at our Annual General Meeting, to be held in the spring. Time and place to be announced!

In the meantime, here’s an important notice from Heather Robertson’s Class Action, about a proposed settlement:





If you are a writer, wherever you reside, please read this notice carefully as it may affect your rights.

This notice is addressed to people who may be class members in this class action and provides information about a hearing before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on April 11, 2011, in Toronto, when the Court will be asked to approve a tentative settlement of this action.

In 2003, the plaintiff Heather Robertson commenced a lawsuit against Toronto Star Newspapers Ltd. (“Toronto Star”), Rogers Publishing Limited (“Rogers”), CEDROM-SNi Inc. (“Cedrom”), ProQuest Information and Learning LLC (“ProQuest”) and Canwest Publishing Inc. (“Canwest”) (collectively, the “defendants”). Ms. Robertson alleged that the defendants infringed the copyrights of authors or assignees of original literary works published in print media in Canada by disseminating copies of those literary works using electronic databases. The defendants claimed they had the requisite rights to disseminate those works and denied Ms. Roberton’s claims. In October 2008, the court certified the action as a class proceeding. The action has since been settled against Canwest and it is no longer a defendant.

Ms. Robertson, on her own behalf and on behalf of class members, has reached a tentative settlement with Toronto Star, Rogers, Cedrom and ProQuest. The tentative settlement includes a payment of C$5.475 million, inclusive of all costs and fees, including legal fees and administration costs, to provide benefits to class members. In return, there would be a release of all claims against these defendants and their affiliates and a license in respect of all literary works that were published in publications owned or operated by the Toronto Star, Rogers, Canwest or their affiliates. Class members would have a further opportunity to opt out of the settlement. If this settlement is approved, there would be a claims-based compensation process whereby class members could file claims for compensation with respect to their freelance literary works.

The parties will appear before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice at the Court House located at Osgoode Hall, 130 Queen Street West, Toronto, Ontario on April 11, 2011 at 10:00 a.m. to ask the Court to approve the proposed settlement. Class members may attend the hearing and may ask to make submissions regarding the proposed settlement. Any class members who wish to object must provide written notice of their objection to class counsel, Koskie Minsky LLP, by April 4, 2011.

If you are a class member and wish to obtain additional information or to object to the proposed settlements, please contact class counsel, Koskie Minsky LLP, at the address below:

Koskie Minsky LLP, Barristers & Solicitors

20 Queen St. West, Suite 900, Box 52, Toronto, ON, M5H 3R3

Re: Robertson v. ProQuest et al. Class Action

Tel: 1.866.777.6343


– 2 –

In addition, copies of the settlement agreements, compensation scheme, and other information about the proposed settlements and this class action are available on class
counsel’s website at


Dated: January 17, 2011

How to get answers re Robertson/Globe & Mail Settlement

RE:ERDC: Developments in Freelance copyright news

Hi, Jack.

I spoke to the lawyer this morning and he asked me to change the contact info that TWUC sent me. They’ve set up a hotline for questions about Robertson v. Thomson:


And an email address:



Thu, 1 Oct 2009

Fw: How to get answers re Robertson/Globe & Mail Settlement

Dear Freelancing Members,
If you have a question as to whether you are eligible to file a claim in the Globe & Mail class action suit, please address it to Anthony Guindon, a lawyer for the appellants.

Koskie Minsky LLP
900-20 Queen Street West
Toronto, Ontario
M5H 3R3
Tel: 416-595-2118
Fax: 416-204-2826


ERDC: Developments in Freelance copyright news

Two important items of electronic rights news for Canadian Freelancers:

1) Article in the Montreal Gazette, Oct 1: Writers’ Associations Boycotting Transcontinental Publications:

2) Information on how the Heather Robertson Class Action settlement may affect you:

From: Lori Schubert

Date: September 29, 2009 4:03:47 PM EDT (CA)
To: ***********
Subject: FW: Class Act Settlement may affect you

Dear Members,

The Heather Robertston V. Globe and Mail has been settled in favour of the Class, which includes many freelance writers. If you had work published as described below, you may be entitled to make a claim. Please read the following announcement carefully. Once you’ve established that you’re eligible, you can download the claim form at

Lori Schubert
Executive Director
Quebec Writers’ Federation
1200 Atwater Avenue, Suite 3
Westmount, QC H3Z 1X4

(514) 933-0878


If you are a writer, artist or photographer, wherever you live, please read this notice carefully as it may affect your rights.

This is a court-approved notice to people who may be members of the Class in the above class proceeding. It describes the class proceeding, the class of people affected, and the court-approved settlement of this class proceeding.

In 1996, Heather Robertson (the “Plaintiff”), a freelance writer, commenced an action against The Thomson Corporation (now, Thomson Reuters Corporation), Thomson Canada Limited (now, Thomson Reuters Canada Limited), Thomson Affiliates and Information Access Company (now, The Gale Group, Inc.). In 2001, the action was amended to include Bell Globemedia Publishing Inc. (now CTVglobemedia Publishing, Inc.) as a defendant (collectively, the

In the action, the Plaintiff alleges that the Defendants infringed the
rights of creators or assignees of original literary or artistic works
published in print media in Canada (“Works”) by disseminating or authorizing the dissemination of copies of the Works through electronic databases, contrary to the Canadian Copyright Act. The Plaintiff sought compensatory, punitive and exemplary damages, as well as injunctive relief, on behalf of writers, artists and photographers who created the Works (“Creators”), their estates and assigns. The Defendants denied the Plaintiff’s claims.

In 1999, the Superior Court of Justice certified this action as a class
proceeding, on behalf of the creators of original literary and artistic
Works, their estates or assigns, where they live. The Class includes the following people:

A. All persons who were the authors or creators of original literary works or original artistic works (collectively “Works”) which were published in Canada in any newspaper, magazine, periodical, book, newsletter, journal or other paper-based form whatsoever (collectively “Print Media”) which Print Media have been reproduced, distributed and/or communicated to the public by telecommunication by the Defendants through any computer database, CDROM, diskette, on-line service, or other electronic system or device (collectively “Electronic Media”), on or after 24 April 1979 except:

(a) persons who by written document assigned all of the copyright in their Works to the Defendants or their predecessors in interest in the subject Print Media; or

(b) persons who by written document granted to the Defendants or their predecessors in interest in the subject Print Media a license to publish or use their Works in Electronic Media; or

(c) persons who were unionized employees of the Defendants or their
predecessors in interest in the subject Print Media are excluded regarding any Works created for the subject Print Media at times when their unions’ collective agreements governed the use of their Works in Electronic Media. Where the Print Media publication was a Canadian edition of a foreign publication, only Works comprising the content exclusive to the Canadian edition shall qualify for inclusion under this definition. (Persons included in Clause A shall hereinafter be referred to as “Creators”).

B. All persons (except the Defendants or their predecessors in interest in the subject Print Media) to whom a Creator, or an Assignee, assigned, granted or transmitted a right to publish or use their Works in Electronic Media. (Persons included in clause B shall hereinafter be referred to as “Assignees”).

C. Where a Creator or Assignee is deceased, the personal representative of the estate of such person unless the date of death of the Creator was on or before December 31, 1943 (the “Class”).

By further Order of the Court dated August 12, 2009, the action was limited to Works published in print prior to May 1, 2009.


A court approved Notice of the Settlement Approval Hearing was published in The Globe and Mail, the National Post, Le Journal de Québec and La Presse on May 9, May 16 and May 23, 2009, as well as on certain websites. The parties attended before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on June 16, 2009, and obtained court approval of the settlement agreement reached between the parties, as well as Class Counsel fees in the amount of $4,000,000.

The Court determined that the Settlement is fair and reasonable, and in the best interests of Class Members.

Settlement Benefits

Under the terms of the approved Settlement, the Defendants will pay
C$11,000,000, inclusive of legal and settlement administration fees, to
provide benefits to Class Members. The Settlement includes a compensation plan for freelance Works, an alternative take-down benefit for freelance Works that appeared in The Globe and Mail, as well as a donation to the Professional Writers Association of Canada, The Writers’ Union of Canada and the Canadian Association of Photographers and Illustrators in Communications, to the general benefit of all Creators of written and artistic Works. The settlement includes a release of all claims, as well as a license in respect of Works that are not taken down.

The case has been financially supported by the Class Proceedings Fund operated by the Law Foundation of Ontario, and as required by law 10% of the net proceeds of the case will be paid to the Class Proceedings Fund.

The Compensation Plan

Eligible Class Members may complete and submit a claim form to the Claims Administrator, listing freelance Works created before May 1, 2009 for which compensation is sought. The Claims Administrator processes the claims and establishes entitlements of individual Class Members, according to the distribution scheme outlined below. For Works that appeared in The Globe and Mail, Eligible Class Members may choose to forego compensation, and instead request that those Works be removed from the commercial databases maintained by the Defendants.

The compensation owing to individual Class Members will be determined by the Claims Administrator, on the basis of a points system. Briefly, a member’s entitlement to compensation will be calculated on the basis of a points system which takes into account various factors, particularly the following:

1. Whether the individual was paid or not paid for the initial publication
of any freelance Work;

2. The length of the Work;

3. The publication in which the Work initially appeared. Under the terms of the Settlement, no individual Class Member will be entitled to compensation in excess of 1% of the total Compensation Fund.

Administrator’s Fees
The fees of the Claims Administrator will be deducted from the Settlement

The Court appointed William Dovey of Cole & Partners as Claims
Administrator. The Claims Administrator’s contact information is as follows:
80 Richmond Street West, Suite 2000, Toronto, Ontario, M5H 2A4
Tel: (416) 361-2590 Fax: 416-364-2904

To receive compensation, each Class Member must submit a completed Claim Form and supporting documents, on or before 5:00 p.m. Toronto time on January 18, 2010. The Claim Form is available at Class Counsel’s website,, or by calling Cole and Partners, at
(416) 361-2590 or by visiting their website at, or by email to

The Claim Form should be submitted by mailing, emailing or faxing the Claim Form and supporting documents to the Claims Administrator at the above-noted address.

If you fail to submit a Claim Form and the supporting documents, on or
before 5:00 p.m. Toronto time on January 18, 2010, you will not receive any part of the net settlement monies unless the Court extends the deadline.

If you are a person falling within the Class described above and you did not opt out when the action was certified in 1999, you will automatically be included in the Class unless you opt out now. Class Members who do not opt out may seek the settlement benefits described above.

Class Members may choose to opt-out now. If you opt-out, you will not be entitled to any of the benefits of the settlement.

To opt out of the Class you must fill out the Form below and send it to
Koskie Minsky LLP (at the address listed below), the lawyers for the Class. The deadline for opting out is November 2, 2009. If your written request to opt out is not received by that date you will remain a member of the Class.

If you are a Class Member and wish to obtain additional information
about the Settlement, please contact Koskie Minsky LLP at the address below:

Koskie Minsky LLP
Barristers & Solicitors
20 Queen St. West, Suite 900, Box 52
Toronto, ON, M5H 3R3
Re: Robertson v. Thomson et al.
In addition, information is available on Class Counsel’s website at
Dated: September 19, 2009

Jack Ruttan, ERDC Secretary

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