Author Heather Robertson was presented with the Graeme Gibson Award by The Writers Union of Canada at its Annual General Meeting on May 28, 2011. Established by the Union in 1991 for varied and remarkable contributions to improve the circumstances of writers in Canada, the award has been given to Graeme Gibson and, in 1992, Pierre Berton. Ms. Robertson is its third recipient.
In 1996 a class action was launched against the Thomson Corporation and others by freelancers whose articles written for The Globe and Mail and other print publications were used in online databases without their authorization and without payment. Heather Robertson agreed to serve as the representative plaintiff. In 2009, thirteen years later and three years after a favourable decision from the Supreme Court of Canada on the main issue, whether freelancers consent was required to reproduce their articles in electronic databases. An $11 million settlement was reached in Robertson v. Thomson and payment made to the freelancers whose works were used without permission. Ms.Robertson brought a second class action against The Toronto Star, Rogers Publishing, CANWEST and others, again acting as the representative for the class of freelancers. A $7.9 million settlement in that case, nicknamed Robertson 2, was approved by the Ontario Court on May 3, 2011.
Find out more about the award here.