Canwest Settles Freelancers’ Suit

By: E&P Staff

Insolvent Canwest Global Communications Inc. has settled with freelance writers who sued the Canadian media company over their work’s republication on the Internet.

Canwest is now under bankruptcy protection. Bloomberg reported that, according to a lawyer for Canwest’s management directors, the writers will be allowed to file a claim for up to $7.1 million and share in the distribution to creditors — either as cash or shares of a new company.

On June 16 an Ontario judge will be asked to approve the settlement.

The action originated in the 1990s, when freelancer Heather Robertson brought a class-action suit against Thomson Corp. for copyright infringement arising from its storage of her work in electronic databases. Later added to the suit were Bell Globemedia Inc., then publisher of The Globe and Mail, and Canwest. Succesor companies Thomson Reuters Corp. and CTVglobemedia Inc. agreed to pay $10.5 million last year to settle the suit.

In 2006, Canada’s Supreme Court recognized such storage as unauthorized use in a different product, while leaving an exception for CD-ROMs that preserve a work as it originally appeared. It followed the similar 2001 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in New York Times v. Tasini.

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