Transcontinental Media has listened to freelancers and revised its latest contract so that contributors retain moral rights and copyright to their work. The contract is an improvement, says the Canadian Media Guild, but it still does not protect the best interests of the writer. 

By Eric Mark Do

Transcontinental Media (TC Media) has listened to its freelancers and revised its latest contract so that contributors retain moral rights and copyright to their work.

Under the new arrangement, a freelancer will grant TC Media exclusive right to the first publication of that work for a one-year period. This means TC Media can continue using the work across its platforms and brands, but when the non-exclusivity clause kicks in after 12 months, the contributor can reuse and resell his or her work, Katherine Chartrand, director of internal and external communications, told J-Source.

“Freelancers also retain their moral rights (from the very beginning) and this was also a big issue with the previous version of the contract.”

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The previous contract proposal was contentious enough to warrant several groups—including the Canadian Media Guild (CMG), Professional Writers Association of Canada and the Canadian Writers Group—to form a coalition to campaign against it.

The contract—introduced in the spring—would have given TC Media copyright across all its brands, and required freelancers to waive their moral rights.


“It’s a new multi-platform publishing environment and we just wanted to facilitate the management of content and all related copyrights to be more flexible and agile,” Chartrand said. After concerns were raised about the new contract, TC Media held one-on-one discussions with its collaborators and contributors in Toronto and Montreal.

“We decided to modify the contract so it better suits the current requirements that our brands have but also to meet the needs and expectations of our freelancers,” she said.

CMG staff representative Keith Maskell said the latest contract is an improvement, but “it’s not the most writer-friendly or creator-friendly contract in the world.”

The right to first publication is fairly standard, but the non-exclusive period means TC Media “essentially (has) an unlimited and unrestricted license going on from there.” Maskell explained that any new content TC Media creates from the freelancer’s work doesn’t come with further remuneration for the freelancer.

“If you’re a content creator, that’s the kind of clause that you see more and more often, but that doesn’t make it more acceptable.” Still, Maskell said he’s glad to see TC Media acknowledged some of the complaints about the previous proposal.

For its part, Chartrand said it shows TC Media is willing to adapt. “We’re all evolving in the same media environment that is transforming… and we are doing this with our contributors and not against, for sure.” 

Tamara Baluja is an award-winning journalist with CBC Vancouver and the 2018 Michener-Deacon fellow for journalism education. She was the associate editor for J-Source from 2013-2014.