Time to Fix Copyright

Published April 4, 2021 by A.J.B. Johnston
Today (April 23) is World Book and Copyright Day.

I didn’t know there was such a thing, but it’s a welcome reminder of how important books and their creators are in the great scheme of things.

Below I have copied a press release that came out yesterday from Access Copyright.

From that document I’d like to highlight some of what’s in the third paragraph. For me, this is the crux of the matter for Canadian writers and publishers.

Since the Harper government made “changes to the Copyright Act in 2012 … Canadian authors, visual artists and publishers haven’t been compensated for the copying of their works by educational institutions. Per year, the education sector copies over 600 million pages from books, newspapers and magazines without fair compensation to creators. In total the education sector owes Canadian creators and publishers over $150 million in unpaid royalties under tariffs approved by the Copyright Board of Canada.”

I hope the current federal government led by Justin Trudeau will address the harm that has been done and reinstate something like the previous copyright protection for creators.

Here is the entire press release from Access Copyright:

On April 23rd, 2021, World Book and Copyright Day, the Canadian writing and publishing industries call on the federal government to fix Canada’s copyright law to address the systemic exploitation of creators’ and publishers’ works by educational institutions.

On a day when we celebrate the power of books and reading, we take this opportunity to bring attention to Canada’s copyright law, which should foster creativity and an infrastructure that ensures creators are paid for the use of their work.

Since the changes made to the Copyright Act in 2012, including adding education as an allowable purpose under the “fair-dealing” exception, Canadian authors, visual artists and publishers haven’t been compensated for the copying of their works by educational institutions. Per year, the education sector copies over 600 million pages from books, newspapers and magazines without fair compensation to creators. In total the education sector owes Canadian creators and publishers over $150 million in unpaid royalties under tariffs approved by the Copyright Board of Canada.

Royalties that would have helped creators sustain a living during the pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic hit the cultural sector hard, with shuttered bookstores and cancelled book tours and readings. While reeling from the financial blow of the pandemic, creators were unable to depend on royalties from the education sector for the use of their works.
 
“As the world unites to celebrate World Book and Copyright Day, Canadian creators and publishers urge the federal government to update our copyright law to restore a creative ecosystem where creators are paid and valued for their work. Without fair compensation, we will have fewer Canadian stories to educate and inspire us and pass onto to future generations,” said Roanie Levy, President and CEO of Access Copyright.
 
World Book and Copyright Day was launched by UNESCO to encourage reading and to show how books can connect us to each other across any divide.
 
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For over 30 years, Access Copyright has facilitated content use for educational and professional purposes. Access Copyright has helped people make customized use of published materials combined with an assurance that creators and publishers also benefit, so that they can continue creating new and innovative works. This is vitally important to a strong Canadian culture and to all who rely on quality publications.
 
Amy Cormier,
Head of Communications and Marketing
[email protected]

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