From Publishing Perspectives:
What Copyright Clearance Center’s (CCC) Roy Kaufman characterizes as “a strong push by US technology giants to relax copyright laws” can “water down the rights of thousands of Australians who create stories and education material.” And he points to Canada as an example of the kind of damage Australia is courting.
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In 2012, Canada amended its Copyright Act to add the word “education” to the list of exceptions that allow the use of material without seeking permission from, or paying, the copyright owner.
Until that year, Canadian educational institutions paid royalties to creators and publishers for copying content, either directly, or through a local collecting society called Access Copyright. This is similar to procedures in Australia, where the education systems pay license fees to an organization called Copyright Agency, allowing use of a wide range of education material. The Copyright Agency then distributes those fees to the owners of copyright: publishers, authors and artists. In that way, it ensures compensating publishers and education authors, and underwriting production of new works.
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The effect of the change on Canada’s publishing industry has been direct.
The Access Copyright collecting society’s Executive Director, Roanie Levy, says that educators believe they can now take what used to be paid for under a collective licence and use that content free—and they’re doing that. With an estimated loss of $50 million a year in royalty payments to content producers — plus an even more insidious but hard-to-quantify disincentive to buying books — an important component of Canadian culture is suffering.
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John Degan, Executive Director of the Writers Union of Canada puts it this way for us: “Going by the 10-percent interpretation” used by educational institutions, “they could take one story out of each book, copy it free, and turn it into a course pack for ‘Canadian Short Stories 101’. Alice Munro wouldn’t have to be told about it, and neither she nor her publisher would see any money for it.”
In other words, Munro would not only cease to receive royalties for copying, but sales of her books would decline, too. For Munro this would be unfortunate, but the consequences of a similar situation for new Canadian authors would be far worse.
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Access Copyright’s Levy tells us that a systematic use of content without compensation has cost small- to medium-sized publishers 20 percent of their revenues. That means that their profit margins, which already were very slim, are going away.
What’s more, diversity is also being curtailed: the creation of Canadian books by Canadian authors on the country’s history, politics, literature and more is disappearing, paving the way for international publishing firms to saturate Canada with non-Canadian books.
Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives
PG would be interested on the perspective of Canadian visitors to TPV on this subject. Has the change in Canadian copyright law cost authors money?
In the US, Section § 107 of the Copyright Act sets forth the manner in which individuals or organizations may use portions of a copyrighted work without the consent of the copyright holder under the Fair Use doctrine. Here’s more information on Fair Use if you can’t restrain your enthusiasm for the concept.
The Copyright Clearance Center makes its money by processing copyright permissions to use part or all of copyrighted works. It provides a useful service as a clearing house where someone who wants to use a wide range of copyrighted material can go to pay a fee and legally use the copyrighted material without hunting down the author or publisher. Copyright owners and publishers appoint the CCC as their representative to provide permission to use their copyrighted material. Here’s a link to the CCC.
However the CCC has an interest in broader copyright protection because that means more people and organizations will be paying fees to CCC for use of protected materials. PG is interested to know whether the change in Canadian law has caused problems for authors.