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Supreme Court sends Robertson and the Globe back to court

Author and writer Heather Robertson’s long-running class-action lawsuit against The Globe and Mail took one more step on Thursday toward — well, toward something.

Ten years ago, Robertson took the Globe to court because the paper was making money off of electronic databases of its archives without getting clearance from — or offering compensation to — freelancers. Now the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that (in the words of, er, Globe and Mail reporter Kirk Makin) databases “compiled by newspapers and other publishers cannot simply reproduce freelance work without the specific agreement of writers, photographers and illustrators.”

It was a close one, though: a 5-4 decision. And because the decision concerned a pretrial motion only, Robertson must still actually take the case to trial. Makin provides a preview of the Globe‘s courtroom strategy: “A central argument at trial will be whether, in selling their work to the newspaper, freelancers presumed that it could end up being used in any way the newspaper desired.” Quillblog’s no expert on the law nor yoga, but that argument seems like a mighty stretch.

Related links:
Click here for the Globe story about the Supreme Court ruling
Click here for commentary from the Creators’ Copyright Coalition
Click here for the official ruling summary
Click here for the full decision