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 To find a Canadian writer, please visit

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Creator Copyright

Canadian Musical Creators Form Their Own Association Over Copyright Concerns

Both the Globe and Mail and Wired magazine covered the recent announcement by a number of prominent Canadian musicians that they intend to speak for themselves on copyright reform, rather than being lumped in with the opinions and copyright lobbying of the recording industry as a whole.

As quoted in the Globe story, the Canadian Music Creators Coalition release had this to say about the impetus behind their formation:

"Record companies and music publishers are not our enemies, but let's be clear: Lobbyists for major labels are looking out for their shareholders, and seldom speak for Canadian artists."

The lesson Ottawa may want to draw from this most recent development on the copyright front is that there are no easy answers to the challenges of reforming copyright for the digital age, and no single solution changes that will satisfy everyone. Any new law is going to have to recognize a multitude of stakeholders and draw fair distinctions to represent their interests.

Check out the new coalition at their website link above. Here's some of what you'll find there (quoted directly). It certainly doesn't sound like the standard line from the recording industry:

1. Suing Our Fans is Destructive and Hypocritical
Artists do not want to sue music fans. The labels have been suing our fans against our will, and laws enabling these suits cannot be justified in our names. We oppose any copyright reforms that would make it easier for record companies to do this. The government should repeal provisions of the Copyright Act that allow labels to unfairly punish fans who share music for non-commercial purposes with statutory damages of $500 to $20,000 per song.

2. Digital Locks are Risky and Counterproductive
Artists do not support using digital locks to increase the labels’ control over the distribution, use and enjoyment of music or laws that prohibit circumvention of such technological measures. The government should not blindly implement decade-old treaties designed to give control to major labels and take choices away from artists and consumers. Laws should protect artists and consumers, not restrictive technologies. Consumers should be able to transfer the music they buy to other formats under a right of fair use, without having to pay twice.

3. Cultural Policy Should Support Actual Canadian Artists
The vast majority of new Canadian music is not promoted by major labels, which focus mostly on foreign artists. The government should use other policy tools to support actual Canadian artists and a thriving musical and cultural scene. The government should make a long-term commitment to grow support mechanisms like the Canada Music Fund and FACTOR, invest in music training and education, create limited tax shelters for copyright royalties, protect artists from inequalities in bargaining power and make collecting societies more transparent.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


PWAC Executive Director on CBC Radio Tonight (10:30 p.m.)

Earlier this week, PWAC ED John Degen recorded a short commentary on the topic of copyright reform in Canada for the CBC Radio program The Arts Tonight. The commentary is slated to run this evening on CBC Radio One. The piece was written as one writer’s response to the ongoing need for reform of the copyright system in Canada, and deals specifically with the education sector’s request for a digital copyright exception.

The Arts Tonight airs on CBC Radio One at 10:05 p.m. (10:35 Newfoundland), and the commentary is set to run some time after 10:30 p.m.

Geist & PWAC

Michael Geist To Speak at PWAC National Conference & AGM

Another Great Reason to Come to Ottawa May 11-14

Following up on his 2006 Hart House lecture, which was recorded for national radio, television and podcast (and blogged about here), University of Ottawa Professor Michael Geist (Canada Research Chair in Internet & e-Commerce Law) will be PWAC’s featured speaker at Creator Copyright, or Creator Copyleft: A Brave New World, one of our professional development offerings on Saturday May 13.

Prof. Geist, columnist for the Toronto Star and Ottawa Citizen, will present his ideas about where copyright has been, where it is going, and how creators can take a leading role in shaping a new copyright paradigm, and indeed a new copyright law, for ourselves.

Prof. Geist’s ideas are challenging and controversial. Some may find them uncomfortable, some exhilarating. Either way, a moderated Q & A will follow. All views and ideas welcome.

Creator Copyright, or Creator Copyleft: A Brave New World takes place between 9:30 am and 11:45 am, Saturday May 13th, at the Ottawa Delta (room to be announced).

This event is FREE to registered Conference attendees, and $20 for any interested non-registered friends and colleagues of PWAC (everybody else).

May 13th includes a day-long schedule of fantastic professional development events featuring some of PWAC’s own expert members and a number of guest speakers. For full details on our scheduled PD events, please go here:

PWAC Conference Schedule

Check out the full National Conference & AGM info

Click here to Register for the Conference

To register for the Geist seminar ONLY, contact PWAC by e-mail at:

Ottawa Never Looked So Exciting!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

March Achievements

PWAC members have had a busy winter, full of professional and personal success.

Some highlights:

Kathy Buckworth’s book, The Secret Life of SuperMom, released by Sourcebooks (Naperville, Illinois) in 2005, has had foreign rights sold in Indonesia and China. The translated versions will appear on the market within in 18-24 months.

On March 29, 2006, the Atlantic Community Newspaper Association (ACNA) released its 2006 newspaper awards nominations. PWAC NBSW chapter president Trudy Kelly Forsythe is nominated in the Best Sports Feature or Story category for her feature "Girls Hockey Catches On" which ran in the Kings County Record in Sussex NB on Feb. 1 2005. The ACNA awards take place in Saint John on May 6.

Michelle Ponto’s dark suspense script entitled, The Calling, has been picked by a New York film company and is currently in production. This is Michelle’s second short film this year. The first one, Al, was a co-writing project and was produced this Spring by Green Sky Productions in Toronto. Michelle also has a couple of feature length films in the pre-production stage.

And the full Member Achievement bulletin is available at this link:

March Achievements

Online writing resources

A quick reminder to PWAC members from across Canada, and in fact to any would be members stopping by -- our largest chapter, PWAC Toronto, provides great professional development opportunities, not just for Toronto members, but for everyone. Check out the notes from past evening PD seminars on their website at: