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ERDC settlement negotiations

By Op-Ed Editor | September 7, 2007

The Electronic Rights Defence Committee is the group, based in Montreal, running the Quebec class action against a range of publishers who have published and sold electronic versions of stories without permission or payment. Since the Robertson v Thomson decision last fall at the Supreme Court, the publishers have been more willing to discuss a settlement. Here’s a report on recent progress (or lack thereof):

Dear Friends

The ERDC is still struggling away, although at the beginning of the
summer we had hoped that we might have some good news about a settlement
by this time. Sadly, we don’t.

As you probably remember, in early spring our lawyer Me. Mireille Goulet
met twice with lawyers for the defendants (revised list: Montreal
Gazette Group, CanWest Global Communications, Hollinger Canadian
Publishing Holdings, CanWest Interactive, Southam andSoutham Business
Communications, Infomart Dialog and Cedrom-SNI) to discuss the
possibility of a settlement to our class action. The proposal asked for
$25 million to be shared among several subclasses as well as contracts
with fair compensationfor electronic rights and explicit recognition
that copyright remains with freelance writers.

In mid-July we received a reply from Me. Malcolm McLeod on behalf of the
defendants, which offered $100,000. This was disappointing, to say the
least, but the ERDC executive carefully considered its response. After a
conference call in August, the executive agreed that Me Goulet should
reply by politely rejecting the “offer” but saying that we are open to
discussion in the future when the other side is ready to present a
“reasonable” settlement.

In parallel with this, since early spring Me Goulet has been working
toward getting a Court date for the authorization of the class action:
all parties must agree on the date and doing this is not an easy matter.
We are now waiting for the Court to set up the three days of hearings.
The earliest dates possible seem to be in February, 2008. We’ll let
you know when we have received them from the Court.

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