Rogers refuses to remove writer’s work from Yahoo

This fall, Rogers Publishing started syndicating work by independent journalists on lineRogers titles. The Canadian Writers Group (CWG) noticed in September that stories from late 2009 and early 2010 by Patricia Pearson and Ellen Vanstone, first published in Chatelaine, were posted on Yahoo’s “Lifestyle” site.

 When an editor at Chatelaine was contacted, she had no explanation but soon discovered that Rogers had entered into syndication agreements with sites such as Yahoo and MSN, an initiative of Rogers’ Digital group. Rogers agreed to remove both stories from Yahoo at CWG’s request.

CWG writer Olivia Stren was later dismayed to see a number of stories she’d written for Flare magazine appear in altered forms on both Yahoo and MSN. When Rogers was asked to remove Stren’s stories from these third-party sites, Kim Machado of Rogers Digital Media refused, saying that syndication on Yahoo was covered under the promotions clause in Rogers’ “Editorial Assignment” agreement.

The clause in the new standard contract says Rogers can “publish the Work and/or an edited version thereof in any promotion of the publication and/or its brand in all forms of media.”

There are a number of problems with how Rogers is interpreting this clause. First, most contributors would not read “promotion” as syndication on Yahoo or MSN many months after their story first appears in a Rogers publication. Second, the writer’s byline appears on the online version they haven’t approved and may not want associated with them.

And there are other problems. Apparently, there’s no time limit to the promotions clause. Rogers believes they could syndicate your work – without additional pay – for as long as they want. This severely limits both the writer’s copyright and his or her ability to manage their brand.

Patrick Renard, Vice President of Finance at Rogers Publishing, is the person cited by editors on the contract committee as the one ultimately in charge of the terms of the standard contract. It appears that he has made it clear to editors that the terms of the Rogers contract are non-negotiable.

Rogers syndicated Patricia Pearson’s work despite the fact that they only had the right to publish the article in question electronically for 45 days. In this case, Rogers’s Machado has conceded Pearson’s story shouldn’t have been syndicated and legal representatives for the Canadian Media Guild will be negotiating compensation for her.

Story Board will continue to cover how CWG and CMG pursue this issue. Watch for new posts on the Rogers contract here.

Posted on November 30, 2010 at 4:11 pm by story board · · Tagged with: , , , , , ,