Q and A on the TC Media freelance contract
By André Dumont, former AJIQ vice-president
AJIQ (The Quebec Association of Independent Journalists) has gotten a lot of questions about the new TC Media contract. Here are a few of them, along with our answers.
Q: I signed the contract. Can I translate my articles and sell them to a French-language magazine?
A: No. You no longer hold the copyright to your work.
Q: Could I publish a book one day using my articles?
A: Yes. But you’ll have to buy back the rights from TC Media first.
Q: My Dad is particularly proud of the article I had published in Canadian Living. Will he be able to reproduce it in an album to sell at the massive “Tremblays of America” reunion?
A: Yes. But he will have to negotiate a license with TC Media first.
Q: Can I sell my article to a community newspaper in Timbuktu?
A: No. The contract you signed gives TC Media exclusive rights even in Mali.
Q: Can TC Media change my articles without my consent?
A: Totally. You signed away your moral rights. You no longer have any say on the integrity of those articles. Your byline does not guarantee to readers that it was actually you who created the content.
Q: Will my byline always appear with my articles?
A: TC Media has given itself the right to take your name off “under reasonable circumstances.” For example, it would be totally reasonable to take your name off if one of your articles became an advertorial. Or if a line from your article became an advertiser’s slogan. It might also be reasonable to take your name off if parts of your articles were added to other writers’ work.
Q: The contract mentions “moral rights.” Do I have more than one moral right?
A: No, there’s just the one. Unless you write under more than one pseudonym. Moral rights basically means the right to maintain the integrity of your work and to choose whether or not you keep your name on it.
Q: If TC Media publishes my article several times, will I get paid more?
A: No. TC Media has given itself the right to publish your articles multiple times in any of its multiple “brands,” to sell it to other publishers, to translate it into Punjabi and to publish it in a bestseller, all without giving you another cent.
Q: My uncle is in the midst of inventing a medium for reading articles in the night sky under a full moon. Will he be able to publish my articles?
A: Sorry. TC Media has your inventor uncle covered. The contract includes rights for all media “now or hereafter known.”
Q: Is the TC Media contract compatible with the Ten principles for a fair contract that the Association promotes?
A: No. (You can find out for yourself here).
Q: I signed the new contract at the same rate as the previous one. Did I get taken?
A: Oh, yeah. TC Media finds your articles so good that it wants a license to use them for all magazines, newspapers, internet sites and other media all over the world! According to our calculations, you should have asked for $42,723 per piece. If Mars had been included, that figure would be even higher.
Q: I haven’t yet signed the contract. Is it negotiable?
A: All contracts are supposed to be negotiable. Good luck!
Q: TC Media is telling me that if I want to sell articles to them, I have to sign the contract as it is without changing any clauses. Is that possible?
A: That certainly doesn’t sound like negotiating! An agreement is – by definition – supposed to be acceptable to both people who sign it.
André Dumont is with l’Association des journalistes indépendants du Québec. This article was translated from French. The original is on the AJIQ website here.