Copyright Board Decision Ignores Cultural Damage

Toronto – Canada’s professional authors are extremely disappointed with the recent decision of the Copyright Board around the copying of published works in K–12 schools. The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC) calls for an immediate repair of the Copyright Act, specifically the damage caused by ill-conceived 2012 changes that have set in place a vicious cycle of market failure.

While on the one hand the Copyright Board has set a new royalty rate for copying in the K–12 sector, they appear to be simultaneously excusing the vast majority of the actual copying from that royalty. The net result of such a decision is that Canada’s writers and publishers will go completely uncompensated for close to a million books worth of copying per year in Canadian schools.

“This is further proof of the damage caused by the 2012 changes to the Copyright Act,” insisted author Heather Menzies, chair of TWUC. “Not only has the board nearly halved the tariff that K–12 schools should pay as compensation for copying Canadian-authored books, it has excluded nearly 90% of our work. And the students of this country will also pay a heavy price, as the source of this cultural work dries up. Authors cannot afford to work for free.”

Since the passage of Bill C-11, a highly contentious and poorly constructed 2012 amendment to the Copyright Act, educational royalty payments to Canadian authors have plummeted.[i] Publishers have reduced investment in the educational sector and authors have indicated they will have to abandon future work. In fact, many have.

“It’s an outrageous situation for Canadian cultural workers,” remarked John Degen, TWUC’s executive director. “Canada’s writers provide a massive contribution to education in this country. For our professional work to be forcibly extracted without compensation is a scandal. We warned Parliament this would happen, and were assured it would not. This ridiculously broad loophole must be closed.”

Both the court system and Canada’s copyright regulator appear to be hamstrung by that 2012 legislative change. The Writers’ Union of Canada calls upon the federal ministries responsible for copyright (Canadian Heritage and Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada) to prioritize an immediate fix.

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The Writers' Union of Canada is our country's national organization representing more than 2,000 professional authors of books. The Union is dedicated to fostering writing in Canada, and promoting the rights, freedoms, and economic well-being of all writers. www.writersunion.ca

For additional information:

John Degen, Executive Director
416.703.8982 ext. 221
jdegen@writersunion.ca

Heather Menzies, Chair
chair@writersunion.ca