The Windsor Square, a local news and opinion website in Windsor, Ont., has agreed to remove excerpts from Windsor Star articles from its posts after receiving a letter from Post Media Network Inc. lawyers threatening legal action over what the publisher of the local daily newspaper called unauthorized reproduction of material from the newspaper.


The Windsor Square, a local news and opinion website in Windsor, Ont., has agreed to remove excerpts from Windsor Star articles from its posts after receiving a letter from Post Media Network Inc. lawyers threatening legal action over what the publisher of the local daily newspaper called unauthorized reproduction of material from the newspaper.

The letter from Post Media’s vice-president of legal affairs, Gillian Akai, cites five examples of Windsor Square posts containing material from Star articles.

The items themselves can still be found on the Windsor Square site here and here, with the excerpts from the Windsor Star missing. One appears to have been critical of Star coverage, while the others seem simply to have referred to comments by public officials quoted in the Star.

Criticism of Star journalism seems to be a regular feature of the Square, though – such as this item  posted Friday.

The Square posted the Post Media letter on its website along with its own reply, which said that the website considered its use of Star material to “fall squarely within the provisions of the ‘fair dealing’ sections of the Copyright Act.” The Square agreed however not to post further excerpts from the Star and to remove those that had been posted – though it also asked the publisher to “please provide us with the name(s) of individual(s) at your organization to whom our contributors may send requests for authorization and who can respond in a timely fashion considering our deadlines for posting articles.”

The Post Media and Windsor Square letters are reproduced below as they appear on the Square site:

W Star Legal                                                        

To:  Postmedia Network Inc.
Attn:  Gillian Akai
Vice-President, Legal Affairs

Thank you for your letter dated September 2, 2010.

As a leading member of the Fourth Estate in Canada, we are surprised that the Postmedia Network Inc. takes such a narrow and restrictive view of what “fair dealing” means under the Copyright Act. 

It certainly was not our intent to infringe any Copyright that the Star may have in its materials nor have we done so.

With respect, it is our opinion that our activities fall squarely within the provisions of the “fair dealing” sections of the Copyright Act.  Moreover, the Star has explicitly allowed us to “share” their materials with the public.

While we are certain that our disagreement would make an interesting legal case, frankly, we believe that both of us have better things to do than to set a legal precedent at this time as to what  “fair dealing” means in the context of a Portal whose function is,

“regular political commentary and analysis of the happenings in and around Windsor and Essex County. The Square provides insightful news perspectives, in depth analysis, and solid background for people who want more than what traditional news sources provide”,

and the Star which is the dominant distributor of news and opinions in this region.

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We do not understand how, on the one hand, you claim that you “respect” our right to critique the Star coverage yet, on the other hand, object to the “fair dealing” with Star materials.

In any event, and without prejudice to our legal rights to claim that we have not infringed any copyright and that our activities are “fair dealing,” Windsor Square and our contributors will remove any excerpts from the Star from articles that we have posted. Such action will result as well in the removal of Star materials from those articles if they are called up in future.

We can confirm to you that we will continue to comply with the terms and provisions of the Copyright Act.

In order to avoid any difficulties between us in the future, please provide us with the name(s) of individual(s) at your organization to whom our contributors may send requests for authorization and who can respond in a timely fashion considering our deadlines for posting articles.

Thank you for your consideration.

Yours very truly,

The Windsor Square

Grant Buckler is a retired freelance journalist and a volunteer with Canadian Journalists for Free Expression and lives in Kingston, Ont.