The Professional Writers Association of Canada (formerly the Periodical Writers Association of Canada) represents professional freelance writers working in Canada's magazine, newspaper, corporate writing, government writing and book publishing industries. For more information about PWAC, including how to join, please visit www.pwac.ca. To find a Canadian writer, please visit www.writers.ca

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Healthier magazines...

mean a healthier market for freelance writers. PWAC has, in the past year, joined forces with Magazines Canada to call for restoration of the Publications Assistance Program (PAP), a longstanding postal subsidy that helps ensure Canadian-written stories are read by Canadians. Word is the PAP has been restored -- and here is a press release from Magazines Canada announcing the good news:

Magazines Canada comments on Heritage Minister Liza Frulla's restoration of funding to program for magazine readers

August 31, 2005

Heritage Minister Liza Frulla announced today that funding for the Publications Assistance Program (PAP) would be sustained at 2005 levels. Previously the budget called for a reduction of $4 million to $45 million. The funding has been restored for the balance of this fiscal year, ending March 31 and Magazines Canada is pursuing the matter for the next fiscal year, beginning April 1, 2006.

The PAP assures that Canadian readers are able to obtain Canadian content in their magazine choices, investing in the postal distribution of magazines with 80% or more Canadian content.

“We are pleased that the Minister has made this commitment today,” said Magazines Canada CEO Mark Jamison. “This is a Minister who recognizes the value of Canadian content reaching Canadians and the importance of distribution channels for Canadian cultural products.

“The PAP has been instrumental in ensuring that 70% of magazine subscription delivery in Canada is Canadian content magazines. It ensures that Canadian magazines are available,” said Jamison. “Canada’s newsstands are dominated by foreign titles; if not for the program, Canadians would be not have access to the Canadian perspectives available in our magazines.”

Magazines Canada and its members have engaged in an intense communications effort to bring attention to the declining resources in what is arguably one of the most successful federal cultural programs. Making the cut even more onerous has been the major increases in postal rates affecting both January 2005 and January 2006 postal expenditures.

“Today’s announcement is very welcome,” said Jamison, “but a more permanent solution is still required. The PAP is a cultural policy success story but it has worked because it provides predictable support based on reader choices. The budget cap combined with very substantial postal rate increases is undermining the program’s effectiveness.

“We need to continue work with Minister Frulla to help her return stability to the program – including solutions for the coming fiscal year and beyond,” he said.

Magazines Canada is the national association of consumer and special interest, art and literary magazine whose members account for approximately 90% of the paid circulation of Canadian content magazines.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

CBC Lockout update

If you have the right toys (an iPod, access to iTunes, or some easily available podcasting software), you can keep on top of all the CBC picket line news at CBC Unplugged, a blog maintained by CBCer Tod Maffin. The site features plenty of written news, but also sports a bunch of interesting audio podcasts directly from the picket lines. Locked out CBC journalists in their own words.

You can also access the podcasts through the iTunes Music Store podcasting section, under CBC Unplugged.

Fair warning -- these take a bit of time to donwload, so don't be in a hurry (I did notice that you can listen to the podcast as it downloads if you use a Quicktime player).

And, in the interests of telling both sides of the story, get all your CBC lockout related info also from the CBC site at:

CBCnegotiations.ca

Monday, August 22, 2005

Member Achievements

PWAC distributes a monthly bulletin showcasing the achievements of our members -- new writing gigs, publication credits, awards, promotional events, etc. Here is a highlight from the August 2005 Member Achievement Bulletin -- a reminder that promotion does not just sell the current project, it breeds future projects:

Dorothea Helms, a.k.a. The Writing Fairy, appeared on CITY TV's Breakfast Television (Toronto) to talk about her new book The Writing Fairy Guide to Calling Yourself a Writer. She led Liza Fromer through an interesting writing exercise on air, and received hundreds of e-mails and calls from interested viewers as a result.

View the entire August 2005 Member Achievement Bulletin.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

© The Debate ©

Canada is in the middle of a copyright reform process, with a brand new stab at digital copyright provisions now before Parliament for first reading (Bill C-60). PWAC will be among a number of creator groups meeting with the Department of Canadian Heritage next week to discuss this Bill and what it means for writers and their ability to make a living from what they write.

If the mere mention of copyright makes your eyes glaze over, you are not alone. Copyright legislation is complex and ever-fluctuating to keep up with a rapidly changing world. The issues around digital copyright are many, but for writers they boil down to three questions:

How do I get my work read by the greatest number of users?

How do I get paid for digital uses?

How do I maintain ownership of my copyright?

Proposed "educational exceptions" to digital copyright did not appear in Bill C-60, and instead the government will hold further public consultations on educational uses. On several occasions PWAC has provided government with our position on exceptions. We are opposed to any exceptions to copyright, and believe instead that digital technology is flexible enough to provide seamless and inexpensive access to the work of our members (through licensing). Education is part of the economy, and everyone involved in it should be paid for their work.

Beyond these basic points, PWAC is very open to discussion about the implications of the Internet on the business of writing, user access, public education and concepts of copyright.

In the spirit of that discussion, here is a link to Michael Geist's June 27th column on Bill C-60. Geist is a professor of law at the University of Ottawa, and he holds the Canadian Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law. For many involved in this debate, Geist represents the pro-education, pro-user rights, pro-public domain position on copyright:

(freely available) Michael Geist column on Bill C-60

A pertinent quote from Geist's column:

In the short term, the provisions in Bill C-60 that seek to facilitate knowledge distribution through digital networks should be amended by removing the restrictions that have been placed on educational institutions and libraries. Such an approach would better ensure that all Canadians benefit from greater access to educational materials and life learning opportunities.

Also involved in this discussion is access copyright, Canada's copyright licensing collective (of which PWAC is a founding member). Here is AC's response to Bill C-60 from a recent newsletter (used with permission):

Bill C-60 Update
 
In late June the Minister of Heritage, Liza Frulla, introduced Bill C-60, a bill to amend the Canadian Copyright Act. Bill C-60, if passed, would work successfully, in many ways, to strengthen Canadian copyright law. It would improve our copyright law by providing photographers with the same rights as other creators by creating a “making available” right, and would place Canada in a position to ratify WIPO treaties. It also attempts to improve access to digital materials for educational institutions, allowing for digital distribution of copyright materials to "remote learners,” and permiting libraries to transmit digital copies of requested materials directly to patron's desktops. In our opinion, the changes proposed in the Bill require further consideration, which will be done by a parliamentary committee scheduled to deal with this Bill prior to final reading in parliament.
 
Over the summer and throughout the fall, Access Copyright's legal team, along with external consultants, will be working to understand the impact of the Bill, as drafted, and will define the changes we consider necessary to make the results of the Bill fair and equitable to rightsholders while ensuring easy and affordable access to users.


Comments welcome.

Monday, August 15, 2005

CBC Lockout

The PWAC National Executive had been debating the following motion, and has now passed it in response to this morning's lockout of 5,300 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) employees:

"PWAC supports the aims of the Canadian Media Guild to gain better pay rates and working conditions for journalists at the CBC, both full-time and freelancers. PWAC will support the CMG if a strike becomes necessary in 2005 to fight for these demands."

The vote was 5 in favour, zero opposed and 2 abstentions

For more information on the CBC lockout, please see the following links:

Canadian Media Guild (CMG) home page

CMG Freelance Branch page

CBC story on the lockout

CBC negotiations page

Friday, August 12, 2005

Member Achievements

PWAC celebrates the professional achievements of our members with a monthly bulletin, which we will now also load on the blog. Here is the bulletin from July 2005:

PWAC Member Achievements, July 2005

Thursday, August 11, 2005

A Wealth of How To

PWAC is always on the lookout for great advice about the business of freelance writing in Canada. Certainly, PWAC-Toronto member Paul Lima has always been one of the great internal resources for freelance advice and concrete strategies for building your business. Check out some of his e-books, courses and resources on the subject at:

http://www.paullima.com/

The article loaded below is American, but came highly recommended by a number of PWAC members. It is written by Robert J. McGarvey (http://www.mcgarvey.net) and is loaded here with his permission, and the permission of Freelance Success website http://www.freelancesuccess.com.

Making Freelance Pay, by Robert J. McGarvey

And, if you haven't already, be sure to order your copy of Roughing it in the Market: A Survival Toolkit for the Savvy Writer. Written for PWAC by member Angie Gallop, this is an indispensible resource for anyone working in the business today.