Time for Writers to Rally!
In the spirit of “writers helping writers,” the WGA urges you, its members, published or not, to communicate with your Members of Parliament in these next weeks to voice your concerns over the adverse effects of copyright reform in 2012.
As writers, you know how to pen a letter. However, here are some factual points to include so that your correspondence to your MP is as strong as possible:
- In 2011-12, the Harper government introduced the Copyright Modernization Act which included a new fair dealing exception: educational purposes.
- Creators foresaw then that this new fair dealing exception would have a negative impact not only upon their incomes, but also upon the growth and vitality of Canadian culture, and the availability of Canadian content in Canadian classrooms.
- Almost 70 creator groups presented a unified voice to express these concerns, but were reassured their fears would not occur. The Copyright Modernization Act was passed in 2012.
- In time, creators found their apprehensions were correct. An independent economic assessment by PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2015 bears this out. As well, publishers of Canadian content (such as textbook publishers) have downsized and some have closed their doors.
- Universities and other educational institutions adopted their own “fair dealing guidelines” which broadly interpreted permissible copying for academics and students. From 2012 onward, most institutions failed to renew their copyright licenses with Access Copyright, and claimed they could opt out of the copyright collective tariff system.
- In July 2017, the Federal Court of Canada ruled against York University, clearly enunciating that its own internal fair dealing guidelines were not fair, and that the university was not exempt from the collective tariff system. Instead of complying with the court order, the university appealed the decision to the Federal Court of Appeal.
- Since Parliament is mandated to review copyright legislation every five years, and since that review process is scheduled to begin soon, it is now imperative that Members of Parliament realize the damage that the educational purposes exception has already caused in the creative community. That damage will continue and Canadian culture will continue to erode unless a correction is made.
- We creators must ask our MPs to support removal of the educational purposes exception, and to communicate our views to the Ministers responsible for copyright review, Joly and Bains.
(Content supplied by Jeananne Kathol Kirwin, LLP)