Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

ERDC Wednesday General Meeting Reminder, and ERDC Disbandment

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

Just a few words to remind you that the Electronic-Rights Defence Committee will meet to disband at 7 p.m. Wednesday April 6, 2016 in the downstairs meeting room of the Atwater Library, Ave. Atwater and rue Tupper, near Metro Atwater.

Refreshments will be served, and pats on the back given and received.

Please let us know if you coming, if you haven’t already.

Mary Soderstrom

Jack Ruttan

Notice of the FINAL Annual General Meeting of the Electronic Rights Defence Committee

Dear Friends,

It is with great pleasure that we invite you to the last meeting of the Electronic Rights Defence Committee (ERDC) at 7 p.m. Wednesday April 6 in the downstairs meeting room of the Atwater Library, 1200 Atwater, corner Tupper, Metro Atwater.

All the Postmedia stock has been distributed, but we need to meet once more to wind things up. This means passing a resolution to disband, approving the placement of a legal notice to this end, and raising a glass together to salute our work. There also will be a small amount of money left in our independent account, so a resolution will be proposed to split it 2/3 to TWUC and 1/3 to PWAC as a very partial repayment of the seed money they gave us way back when the class action was beginning.

Please let us know if you’ll be able to attend by sending at RSVP to this address ( before Monday, April 4. There will be things to eat and drink, so we need to know how many people to plan for.

Best wishes

Jack Ruttan, Secretary
Mary Soderstrom, President

ERDC Authorization Hearings – Final Day

Me. Mirielle Goulet made her point on the final day of the Electronic Rights Defence Committee’s class action authorization hearing.

The opposition, drawn from three different high-profile law firms, finished their rebuttal to her presentation. She gave a rebuttal to them, and then they had a chance to answer her rebuttal.

Much appreciation is due to the freelance writers who took time out of their schedules to show up at the hearing and support Me. Goulet’s efforts. Especially David Homel, who was there much of the time. Unlike the lawyers on the other side, none of us were being paid to be there.

Now the case goes under advisement, and we can do nothing but wait for Judge Eva Petras’ decision as to whether the class action goes ahead. We’ll let you know at the earliest possible opportunity. As Judge Petras said, summing up, “it’s not quite so easy.”

ERDC Court Hearing Feb 25-27

The Electronic Rights Defence Committee will have its day(s) in court next week.

The hearing before Judge Eva Petras begins Monday, February 25 and runs for three days (Feb 26 & 27). Our lawyer Me Mireille Goulet is hoping that we will have a good crowd to show the flag, particularly on Monday which is when she kicks off the proceedings. Plan your schedule so you can be at the Palais de Justice Montreal, 1 Notre Dame East (between Notre Dame and St. Jacques at boul. St. Laurent).

at 8:50 a.m. Monday, February 25, 2008.

Court Room 16.01, 16th Floor.

This hearing is for the authorization to proceed with the class action. We are hoping to indicate to the court that this case is of interest to writers across the country.

We have received support from several writers organizations, including The Writers Union of Canada (TWUC), The Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC), and the Union des Écrivaines et des Écrivains Québécois (UNEQ), as well as Heather Robertson, who is leading a similar class action against the Thomson Chain, in Ontario (see below).

ERDC Background

On April 7, 1997, the Electronic Rights Defence Committee (ERDC) took the first steps toward a multi-million dollar class action lawsuit in Quebec Superior court against Southam Inc, CEDROM-SNJI, Infomart-Dialog and Southam Business Communications for 37,000 instances of copyright infringement of freelancers’ work dating back to 1985.

More than ten years later, the ERDC is still battling to win recognition of the fact that for years freelancers’ work was (and frequently still is) reproduced electronically without consent or compensation. David Homel has been our class representative since 2003 (our first class representatives Nancy Lyon and David Fennario had to withdraw) and the case has been modified to reflect changes in The Gazette’s ownership.

The defendants now are: Montreal Gazette Group, CanWest Global Communications, Hollinger Canadian Publishing Holdings, CanWest Interactive, Southam and Southam Business Communications, Infomart Dialog and Cedrom-SNI). Making these changes has slowed the case down, but we also have met with delaying tactics on the other side: it took nearly a year to arrive at a mutually agreeable date for the class authorization hearing now set for February 25-27, 2008.

In early 2007 because of hints from the other side, we thought we might be on the road to a negotiated settlement. Our lawyer Me Mireille Goulet met twice with lawyers for the defendants to present a proposal elaborated by the ERDC executive. It asked for $25 million to be shared among several subclasses of Gazette freelancers as well as future contracts with fair compensation for electronic rights and explicit recognition that copyright remains with freelance writers. The response didn’t arrive until July: it was an offer of $100,000 which the ERDC executive agreed was inadequate.

Other information about class actions against newspaper and media over the issue of electronic rights grabs:

  1. In October 2007 the Canadian Supreme Court ruled five to four in the Heather Robertson vs. Thomson case that freelancers do indeed hold copyright on their work reproduced in electronic data bases. This is good news, although the closeness of the decision is disappointing. Now that the points of law have been settled, the Robertson vs. Thomson case must go to trial, most probably later in 2008.
  2. The US $18 million class action settlement in the United States which followed from the Tasini vs. New York Times case is currently stalled in the courts. Some class members have contested the settlement, so even though the process of finding who is eligible to receive money began in the summer of 2005, no cheques have been given out.

For the ERDC:

Jack Ruttan, ERDC Secretary

Mary Soderstrom, ERDC President.

ERDC Court Date Reminder

Don’t forget that the Electronic Rights Defence Committee will have its
day(s) in court next week.

The hearing before Judge Eva Petra begins Monday, February 25 and runs for three days.  Our lawyer Me Mireille Goulet is hoping that we will
have a good crowd to show the flag, particularly on Monday which is when she kicks off the proceedings.  We still do not know which courtroom the hearings will take place in but plan your schedule so you can be at the Palais de Justice Montreal, 1 Notre Dame East (between Notre Dame and St. Jacques at St. Laurent).

at 8:30 a.m.  Monday, February 25, 2008

We’ll be sending out the exact court room information on the weekend (wewon’t receive it until late Friday)

See you there

Jack Ruttan, Secretary

Mary Soderstrom, President

ERDC Court Hearing Feb 25-27

Hello Friends

The Electronic Rights Defence Committee will be going before Judge Eva Petras Feb.25-27 in a hearing for an authorization of our class action.

Yes, really, after all the delays and bad luck, we’re going to be heard! Our lawyer Me. Mireille Goulet thinks that it would be good if we had a number of supporters there during the hearings. We’ll have more news about court rooms, times and the like, but please look at your schedules now and see if you can fit in a few hours to show the flag at Montreal’s Palais de Justice.

The week before that important court date, Me Goulet will go before the Fonds d’aide aux recours collectifs to request more financial help for our legal costs. We have had some help in the past, but none since 2003. Last fall we put in a request for more, but because the Fonds d’aide was not given a budget until December, our hearing was delayed until now. Me Goulet has gone ahead with the preparatory work for the authorization hearing nonetheless.

We’ll be sending out more news soon.

Jack Ruttan,  Secretary

Mary Soderstrom,  Chair

David Homel’s Book Launch

The Speaking Cure
By David Homel
David’s new novel (compared to the work of Dostoievsky by the
Globe and Mail) will be launched Thursday, October 2, 2003 at
Paragraphe Books from 6 to 8 p.m.

Come and congratulate the ERDC’s class representative.

(220 rue McGill College, Montreal, just down the street from the
Roddick Gate entrance to McGill.)

Jack Ruttan, ERDC Secretary, for
Mary Soderstrom, ERDC Chair

David Fennario Benefit report

Hello, Electronic Rights Supporters!

On the Monday before last, September Ninth, the Centaur Theatre in Montreal held a benefit for David Fennario, playwright and freelancer, and class representative for the ERDC’s lawsuit against Southam et al., struck with Guillan-Barré syndrome (Chronic Inflammatory Demyelating Polyneuropathy). He’s recovering slowly, but in the meantime, here’s a writeup of the event: This is a short, personal, and informal report on the David Fennario Benefit at the Centaur Theatre last night, Monday, September Ninth, 2002.

It’s good that a benefit sells out, but too bad that not everyone who came could get in. Seating was limited by the size of the main Centaur theatre space, with no standing allowed. A long lineup was turned away, selling out just as I got to the ticket window. I bought ERDC Chair Stuart Robertson’s ticket from him, and took in the performance along with the infinitely charming Me. Mireille Goulet, our lawyer in the Electronic Rights lawsuit against Southam et al.

There were video excerpts, scenes from plays, and speeches. Bits of old CBC documentaries gave us a look at a Fennario with longer hair. Centaur’s former artistic director Maurice Podbrey gave a video letter from a very cozy-looking and paradisical part of South Africa. Over the evening, I enjoyed the section from “Balconville” most, performed by Jean Archambault, Yolande Circe, Jean-Guy Bouchard and Brent Watson, introduced by the director of the original production, Guy Sprung. Sprung was right in saying that one of the Centaur’s four sandstone pillars belonged to Fennario, as that bourgeois theatre had supported that working-class playwright (and vice-versa) from nearly the beginning. But this selection, like most of the other snippets from Fennario’s work, was way too short. I would have enjoyed a staged reading of the complete play, or one of the other works, perhaps in a larger, more informal space. It’s still possible.

Effective too was a reading from Fennario’s most recent play, “Perimeters,” about the Quebec Summit protest. This was acted by Anne Fuerstenberg, Laura Teasdale, and Diana Fajrajsl, and was even more compelling to me, thinking about the tear gas that had been let off that very day in downtown Montreal around Concordia University. Other actors and playwrights gave testimonials, such Michael Rudder, Vittorio Rossi, Diane English, and James Kidnie. To me it all seemed a little funereal, too much like a memorial service rather than a celebration. Especially considering that the object of the testimonial, David, was present for the whole performance. Tired, but looking better than how Mireille had described him earlier in the year, he gave a moving “thank you” from his wheelchair when it was finished, noting that “he was in better shape than the Pope.”

Bowser and Blue rounded out the evening with their style of political humour, which hit it off well with the crowd. I would have thought that an ensemble like Norman Nawrocki and Dem Stink would have been more up Fennario’s alley politically speaking, but might not have had the drawing power among the Centaur audience.

After David’s words when the performance had ended, the audience retired to the lobby bar for some politically-correct “Blue” beers. The bar proceeds, along with ticket sales and donations all went directly to David and his family. Contributions can still be made. Make them payable to the Centaur Theatre company, but mark them clearly for David Fennario. They’ll issue a tax receipt.

The address is: Centaur Theatre Company
433 St-François-Xavier
Montreal, Qc. H2Y 2T1
Jack Ruttan,
ERDC Secretary.

David Fennario Benefit

Dear ERDC (Electronic Rights Defence Committee) Member,

You may have heard the story that was broken through the Montreal press that playwright and freelancer David Fennario, who is our class representative in the case against Southam et al, has been struck with Guillain-Barré Syndrome (, an unpredictable but non-fatal condition leaving him very ill and undergoing treatment until 2003. For those in the Montreal area, a benefit is being held, “Celebrating the Works of David Fennario,” at the Centaur Theatre (453 rue St. François-Xavier (Metro Place des Armes)) on September 9, at 8:00 pm. Admission is $15.00.

Further information about this, as well as the status of our lawsuit, and any meetings we will hold, will be forthcoming. As ERDC information officer, I am setting up a mailing list for the purpose of desseminating news relevant to the Montreal-based lawsuit, so that no one will receive e-mail they would rather not see.

Thank you for your support,
Jack Ruttan, ERDC Secretary and Information Officer

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