Archive for the ‘E-Rights and Copyright News’ 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.

ERDC AGM reminder, and Google Settlement News

Dear ERDC Members, and Friends:

This is a reminder that the Electronic Rights Defence Committee’s (ERDC) Annual General Meeting will happen in 5 days. Mark it on your calendar, if you haven’t already:

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

Seeing me struggle to write down another resolution created simultaneously by 3 writers is worth the visit!

On a side note, this is important e-rights news for authors, forwarded by our Chair, Mary S.:

Jack Ruttan, Secretary
Mary Soderstrom, President

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

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

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