Steve Proulx has a copy of the new freelance agreement that Quebecor-owned magazine publisher TVA Publications is forcing its writers to sign.
What’s so extreme about it, sadly, isn’t that it demands complete exclusive rights, including copyright, over all work submitted, or that it demands writers waive all moral rights, or that it demands retroactive rights to all past submitted work, or that half of these demands are so over-the-top that they probably wouldn’t stand up in court.
What’s horrible is that this is for magazine freelancers, who once upon a time were treated with more respect and professionalism than newspaper freelancers.
And what’s worse is that so many aspiring writers are so desperate for a byline and so naive about what it will mean for them that they’re willing to work for peanuts and will sign this agreement without giving it a second look.
UPDATE (Jan. 22): Steve adds a letter from a former contributor to Quebecor-owned weekly ICI.
UPDATE (Jan. 23): The FPJQ issues a press release condemning the contract.
UPDATE (Jan. 26): Looks like this may have had some effect, with a report that at least one editor is backing off from enforcing this contract.
Speaking of peanuts… Some freelancers recall being paid between $100 to $125 a “feuillet” (250 words) 10 years ago. Now, TVA-Publications offer from $65 to $100 (only for long term collaborators because the newcomers are paid max. $80). Per word, this means $0.40 to $0.50, in the good old days, and from $0.26 to $0.40 per word nowadays…
If we don’t sign, TVA-Pub will “flush” us. Like it happened to many of us in 2000 with journal Voir, which asked us to sign a similar contract, forcing us to renounce to our rights, to be able to publish without paying us again our articles in every version of regional Voir papers, and also on cedrom-sni (www.eureka.cc). SCANDALOUS! But what can we do???? Any ideas?
I don’t think the Civil Code could allow such a complete negation of writer’s rights. This is clearly a case of bourgeois thinking who believes he can impose common law in Québec.
(Hint: common law states that a store owner can post a sign saying “not responsible for lost articles” in a cloackroom, and thus being totally absolved of responsibility for a stolen cloak. The same sign with the civil code has absolutely no value, the store owner is responsible about it no matter what he claims). But IANAL nor I play one on the Intarweb.
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This could have interesting parallels with websites that house “user-generated content”. I’ll let others elaborate more on this.
Inacceptable. Je vous appuie vous et tous les pigistes. J’ai déjà été journaliste pigiste il y a longtemps, maintenant artiste pigiste.
Unacceptable. I support you and all freelancers (not that free, it seems…)
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