Archive for the ‘Announcements’ Category

ERDC Year-End Message

Dear ERDC members

Best wishes for a 2013 in which the Electronic Rights Defence Committee finally distributes the proceeds from its class action settlement!

On Nov. 28, 2012 ERDC members present at a special general meeting approved a proposal for distribution of the $75,000 in cash and 189,000 shares in Postmedia received as compensation for the unauthorized and uncompensated electronic use of stories originally published by freelancers in The Gazette between 1985 and 2010.

The proposal–which must still be approved by Quebec Superior Court– is the following:

1. Pay out in stock.

2. Minimum claim of 5 articles or more. While we do not know now how much each article would be worth in terms of stock (we have to see how many articles are claimed first), it would appear that a minimum of 3 shares would be attributed to each article. At the current price per share–$2 –a claim of five articles would produce a minimum of 15 shares worth something more than $30, or the cost of processing the claim. Note that the median number of articles was 10: that is, half the writers surveyed had 10 or less.

3. Maximum payment should be equivalent to that for 500 articles. This idea follows the same principle that Public Lending Right payments do: the few outliers at the top end in a small way subsidize those with fewer articles. Note: only 18 of the 710 writers surveyed have more than 500 stories. The average number was 65.5.

4. One article equals one point, and writers who wrote at least five stories between 1985 and 1996 but did not write afterwards would receive a flat supplementary payment.

This last feature was discussed at length at the ERDC executive meeting in August, and again by the subcommittee this fall. The ERDC in 2007 agreed that payout would be based on a scale which favoured writers who did not write after the Gazette began requiring written contracts This position was reaffirmed several times, most recently in 2010, following settlement with Postmedia.

But administering this would be cumbersome and increase costs. Therefore we propose giving what might be called a “recognition payment” (RP) for writers who wrote between January 1, 1985 (about when The Gazette started posting stories electronically) and April, 1996 (when contracts began to be required and we began the class action process.) Thirty points is suggested as an RP. Reasoning: the survey made in June showed 329 freelancers writing between 1985 and April, 1996, but not writing afterwards. Most did not write many stories: only 155 had 5 or more, 5 being the cut off we are suggesting for making a claim. The average number of stories was 30.4.

Class representatives, Secretary Jack Ruttan and Treasurer Ron Diamond would also receive RPs: the latter two stand to receive nothing otherwise.

5. Claimants would have six months to file.

6. Claimants would be required to list the stories they had written for The Gazette, and would be informed that the data base Proquest (available through many libraries) is an easy way to search for their work. Eligibility for the RP would be determined by a simple question: “Did you sign the Gazette’s e-rights contract starting in 1996?” (NB: the actual question for the form remains to be approved by counsel.)

Legal counsel will seek approval of the Proposition for Distribution from the Court with all deliberate speed; the target is early in 2013.

Jack Ruttan, ERDC Secretary
Mary Soderstrom, ERDC Chair

ERDC E-mail address change

This is a note to all ERDC members that I’ve deactivated the e-mail address info@erdc.ca. Any e-mail concerning the ERDC can to be sent to me, Jack Ruttan, the ERDC Secretary at jack.ruttan090@sympatico.ca .

Apologies to anyone who has received spam e-mail from the info@erdc.ca address.

Jack Ruttan
ERDC Secretary

The Electronic Rights Defence Committee (ERDC) Annual General Meeting Agenda

The Electronic Rights Defence Committee (ERDC)
Annual General Meeting Agenda

Tuesday, March 27, 2012
7:30 p.m.
Auditorium
Atwater Library
1200 Atwater, Montreal

Agenda:

1. Adoption of the agenda.

2. Acceptance of minutes of previous meeting.

3. Approval of Financial statements.

4. Report from the Chair: What’s happened since March 2011

5. Report from Legal Counsel.

6. Election of New Officers:

7. Other Business.
7.a Bill C-11 (on copyright)

8. Time and Place of Next Meeting.

9. Adjournment of AGM

Please bring something to eat and/or drink so that we can share.

The ERDC Class Action nears its end

Hello Electronic-Rights Defence Committee (ERDC) members and supporters,

Attached to this post in Word .doc format are notices to members in French and English of the ERDC’s class action, which has just been approved by Quebec Superior Court.

notice_to_members_2012-01-31v2.doc

avis_aux_membres_2012-01-31v2.doc

Additionally, the latest proposed settlement with Hollinger Canadian Publishing Holdings is attached as a .PDF document.

Piece-R-3.pdf

You’ll be hearing more from us soon.

Jack Ruttan, ERDC Secretary
Mary Soderstrom, ERDC Chair

ERDC 2011 Annual General Meeting

The Electronic Rights Defence Committee’s (ERDC) Annual General Meeting will be held at:

7:30 p.m.
Monday, March 28, 2011
in the offices of Sylvestre Fafard Painchaud
740 Atwater
Montreal

A proposed agenda will be sent out before the meeting. It will include election of the executive committee, and an update on our case, plus items to be determined closer to the date.

Jack Ruttan, Secretary
Mary Soderstrom, President

Message to ERDC Members re: Settlement

Just a few words of update following the first meeting of the ERDC executive after our settlement with some of the defendants in our long case against The Gazette et al. (For details on it, check here)

Me Catherine Sylvestre, who with our long-time lawyer Me Mireille Goulet, piloted the case through the settlement waters, reported that we still do not know how much and when we will receive Canwest Publishing Inc./Publications Canwest Inc. (which is the legal successor through amalgamation of Montreal Gazette Group Inc, Canwest Interactive and Infomart Dialog Limited) and Canwest Global Communications Corporation. Both have been in protection-against-creditors proceedings before Ontario courts and the process has not been completed yet.

The last remaining defendant is CEDEROM-SNI, and the executive formally gave our lawyers approval to continue the case against them.

When the ERDC receives the settlement stock and money, it will be held in trust by the firm of Sylvestre Fafard Painchaud until a distribution and payout procedure is approved by Quebec Superior Court.

The executive reviewed a draft distribution plan hashed out in April, 2007, and unanimously agreed to continue with it with one modification. The plan now calls for outstanding bills (including any commitments of reimbursement made during fundraising campaigns) to be paid off the top of the settlement. 25% to pay legal fees as per agreement with Me Goulet and Sylvestre Fafard Painchaud.

55% for Group A: Freelancers who wrote for the Gazette prior to 1996

10% for Group B: Freelancers who wrote for the Gazette after 1996

10% for Group C: Freelancers who had written for the Gazette prior to 1996, but who did not continue to do so afterwards, plus the class action representatives.

The change raises the lawyers’ share from 20 to 25 per cent (as we had agreed 18 months ago when it became clear Mireille needed a larger team and Sylvestre Fafard Painchaud joined the case), and reduces the amount for Group A from 60 to 55 per cent.

As soon as we have more information, we’ll share it with you.

Jack Ruttan, secretary
Mary Soderstrom, president

Press Release: ERDC-Canwest Settlement

For release: Monday, June 28, 2010, 5 a.m.

erdc-logo

Good News and Not So Good News in ERDC-Canwest Settlement:
Electronic Rights Recognized, But Compensation to Be Less Than Hoped

The Electronic Rights Defence Committee (ERDC) wishes that its settlements with parts of the Canwest communication empire would result in a lot more money in the pockets of freelance writers, but is pleased that the settlements include explicit recognition of the importance of protecting electronic rights and the need to compensate writers fairly for the use of their material.

The Honourable Justice Eva Petras of the Quebec Superior Court approved the settlements June 18, 2010. In March 2009, she had authorized the ERDC to proceed with a $33 million class action, originally begun in 1997, on behalf of freelance writers. At issue was work published in The Gazette that was being used electronically without permission and/or adequate compensation. For the last several years writer and translator David Homel has been the designated representative of the class which includes several hundred writers who produced thousands of articles.

The ERDC’s settlements are with Canwest Publishing Inc./Publications Canwest Inc.(which is the legal successor through amalgamation of Montreal Gazette Group Inc, Canwest Interactive and Infomart Dialog Limited) and Canwest Global Communications Corporation. Both are in protection-against-creditors proceedings before Ontario courts. This means that the actual amount of the settlements is undetermined because the creditors’ claims against the corporations are still being processed.

The ERDC’s claim against Canwest Publishing has been valued at $8,500,000 for voting and distribution purposes in respect of arrangements being worked out between Canwest Publishing and its creditors. The ERDC’s claim with Canwest Global Communications is valued at $500,000. In both cases the amounts that the ERDC will eventually receive on behalf of members of the class are likely to be very substantially less as the protection against-creditors procedures are wound up. The ERDC will hold the money and/or stock in trust until the class action is completely settled and a formula for distribution of the settlement to class members is approved by the courts.

“We are pleased that freelance writers will eventually receive some compensation for their work used electronically, and that the other side explicitly acknowledges “the importance of protection of electronic rights and fair compensation for the electronic dissemination of content,” said ERDC President Mary Soderstrom. “But we regret strongly that it has taken 13 years to get to this point, and that, because of the protection against creditors proceedings, freelancers will receive amounts much less than the face value of the settlements.”

She added that the ERDC also continues to maintain that contracts which freelancers have been forced to sign with The Gazette and Canwest are unfair.

The settlements themselves and the announcement of the class action can be found on the ERDC’s website http://www.erdc.ca

For more information:

Mary Soderstrom, ERDC president

Source: Chris DiRaddo

(Download PDF file )

Notice to ERDC Members, and a settlement in the works!

Dear Friends

The Electronic Rights Defence Committee (ERDC) is pleased to announce it has reached a tentative settlement with two of the defendants in our long-running class class action arising from unauthorized electronic use of the freelance stories in The Gazette of Montreal. In addition, the Quebec Superior Court has ordered the posting of a Notice to Members of the class together with copies of the settlements. This starts the ball rolling toward a payout to class members. Links to the documents are below:

1.ERDC_Notice_to_members_2010-06-06_CGCC_+_LP_-FINAL_APPROUVE_FRANCAIS.pdf

2.ERDC_Notice_to_members_2010-06-06_CGCC_+_LP__FINAL_APPROUVE_ANGLAIS.pdf

3.ERDC_Transaction_Revised_2010-06-01_FINAL(2).pdf

4.ERDC_Transaction_with_Canwest_Publishing.pdf

The settlements are with Canwest Publishing Inc./Publications Canwest Inc.(which is the legal successor through amalgamation of Montreal Gazette Group Inc, Canwest Interactive and Infomart Dialog Limited) and Canwest Global Communications Corporation. Both are in protection-against-creditors proceedings before Ontario courts. This means that the actual amount of the settlements is undetermined at present because the creditors’ claims against the corporations are still being processed.

However ERDC’s claim against Canwest Publishing has been valued at $8,500,000 for voting and distribution purposes in respect of any plan of compromise or arrangement proposed by CPI to its creditors. The ERDC’s claim with Canwest Global Communications is valued at $500,000.

In both cases these amounts will be reduced very substantially as the protection-against-creditors procedures are wound up. It is possible that we could receive about 10 to 15 cents on the dollar. Certainly it will be months, if not years before we receive anything.

Both these settlements require court approval. We will have more to say about what they mean in the days to come.

The documents we’re sending you will also be posted on our website, http://www.erdc.ca, as well as on that of six writers organizations.

Please feel free to circulate the notice widely.

Cheers

Jack Ruttan, secretary
Mary Soderstrom, president

List of other organizations which will post the notices

http://www.sfpavocats.ca (Attorneys of the group Website)
http://www.writersunion.ca (The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC))
http://www.qwf.org (Quebec Writers’ Federation (QWF))
http://www.uneq.qc.ca (Union des écrivains québécois (UNEQ))
http://www.pwac.ca (Professionial Writers’ Association of Canada (PWAC))
http://www.ajiq.qc.ca (Association des journalistes indépendants du
Québec(AJIQ))
http://www.cfunion.ca (Canadian Freelance Union (CFU));

Stuart Robertson Remembered

mistosis

photo by Mary Soderstrom

As the natural world explodes with coming of summer, it’s appropriate that ERDC supporters remember the presence, and counsel of our late former Chair, Stuart Robertson, a passionate gardener. Present Chair Mary Soderstrom had a note on her blog when he passed last year, telling something of his contribution to the Committee. Other links are [here] and [here.]

It’s been 8 months now since Stuart left us. He was one of the founding members of the committee, and will be missed. It’s fitting that this has been a particularly good year for forget-me-nots.

Jack Ruttan, ERDC Secretary
Mary Soderstrom, ERDC Chair

First Call: ERDC 2010 Annual General Meeting

The Electronic Rights Defence Committee’s annual general meeting will be
held beginning at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday, March 30, 2010 at the offices of
Sylvestre Fafard Painchaud, 740 Atwater (between St. Antoine and St.
Jacques on the west side, not far from the Lionel Groulx Metro station.)

On the agenda will be news from our longtime legal counsel Me Mireille
Goulet about the progress of the case, as well as a chance to meet Me
Catherine Sylvestre, a key member of our expanded legal team. Elections
of the ERDC executive committee will also be held.

The meeting should last about an hour to an hour and a half, and there
will be refreshments. It would be useful to know if you plan to attend:
please reply by e-mail to Jack, jack.ruttan090@sympatico.ca.

Jack Ruttan, secretary
Mary Soderstrom, chair
http://erdc.ca

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