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Canadian publishing industry ‘suffering real-time damage’ due to Copyright Act

In Canada, representatives of the Association of Canadian Publishers (ACP) and the Writers’ Union of Canada have urged the Canadian government to ‘fix [the] marketplace’ in a review of the country’s 2012 amendments to its Copyright Act, reports Publishing Perspectives.

President of the ACP, Glenn Rollans, told the Parliamentary Standing Committee reviewing the country’s copyright issues that ACP members have been ‘damaged by the Copyright Modernization Act’, which offers universities and other educational institutions a ‘fair use’ provision to copy and distribute up to 10% of material without paying a licensing fee.

As previously reported, the fair use provision’s impact on the educational sector has been cited by Canadian licensing agency Access Copyright as the reason for decreasing royalties paid to creators and publishers, with 2017 royalties down to C$6.7 million (A$3.8m) compared to C$11 million (A$11.4m) in 2016, representing a 46% decrease year-on-year and a 78.7% decline from 2012 levels.

A Canadian Federal court last year also ruled in favour of Access Copyright in its legal dispute with York University, finding the copyright guidelines the university had introduced were ‘not soundly based in principle’.

In his testimony, Rollans called for balance, stating that ‘this is not a zero-sum contest between copyright creators and copyright users’. The ACP president also stressed to the committee that the strength of the Canadian publishing industry requires the support of governmental regulators. ‘I need to say as clearly and as bluntly as I can that if you don’t intend for there to be damage, you need to take a leadership role in stopping it and reversing it,’ said Rollans.

He added, ‘As a working publisher I’m disappointed that the damage we predicted before the amendment in 2012 came to pass. I’m disappointed that our government then asked us to prove the damage through studies, and when we did, they asked us to await the decision in Access Copyright v. York. And when we did that, they asked us to wait for the results of an appeal. Now we’re asked to wait for the results of this review, and we may then be asked to wait for the results of an election.

‘My colleagues and I are suffering real-time damage triggered by this act. Graduates of Canadian colleges and universities are losing opportunities to make a living in creative professions.’

Executive director of the Writers’ Union of Canada, John Degen, also testified to the parliamentary committee, claiming that ‘fully eighty percent of our licensing income has simply disappeared’ since the implementation of the Copyright Modernization Act.

Degen also countered reports from the education sector that licenses are still being paid by claiming that these licenses are ‘mostly for expensive foreign journal content’. ‘But they are not paying the reasonable and affordable collective licenses of Canada’s commercial authors and publishers,’ said Degen.

The Canadian Standing Committee on Industry, Science, and Technology was referred to the review of the 2012 Copyright Modernization Act by the Canadian House of Commons in December 2017. Several stakeholders have testified in meetings conducted across Canada in May, including Hugo Setzer, vice president of the International Publishers Association.

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Category: International news