The Universities of Toronto and Western Ontario Refuse to Pay for Copies

Writers' Union
Press Release

The Universities of Toronto and Western Ontario Refuse to Pay for Copies 

Vast Quantities of Canadian Writing Now Claimed For Free 

The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC) is extremely disappointed at the termination of collective licensing negotiations between the University of Toronto, the University of Western Ontario and Canada's Copyright Licensing Agency, Access Copyright. Today's announcement signals the end of more than 20 years of partnership between two of Canada's largest and most prestigious universities and this country's writing and publishing community.
"We do not agree with the copying guidelines currently in use in many Canadian educational administrations," said Dorris Heffron, Writers' Union Chair. "I can't emphasize strongly enough how damaging to Canada's writers this decision is. The terrible irony here is that by not paying for such large uses of Canadian educational material, educators are virtually guaranteeing there will be fewer Canadian resources to use. Writers and publishers cannot be expected to produce this valuable material for free."

Collective licensing in Canada has long provided a positive working partnership between Canada's writers, educators and learners. Each year, millions of published pages are either photocopied or digitally scanned for re-use on Canadian campuses. For decades now, those uses have been fully and fairly paid for through an extremely permissive collective licence, giving broad access to educators and students while also compensating Canadian writers and publishers. As they walk away from licensing educators continue to use the content, in effect encouraging the wholesale cannibalization of books without permission or payment. This represents a loss of tens of millions of dollars annually to Canada's writing and publishing sector. 

"Educators are making these damaging decisions under the highly questionable belief that recent changes to copyright law allow them to freely copy large amounts of work," explained John Degen, TWUC's executive director. "Nothing in the Copyright Act nor in any recent Supreme Court decision supports such a broad expansion of free copying. As an author, I'm very disappointed with this development. As a two-time graduate of the University of Toronto who paid a great deal for my education, I feel particularly dismayed."

"The Writers' Union administers several paid programs that help educators bring Canadian writers into their classrooms, often at no cost to the school," added Heffron. "All levels of education take advantage of these partnership programs, and universities are heavy users. Now when writers visit, students will only know their work from unpaid photocopies? Not fair."

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The Writers’ Union of Canada is our country’s national organization representing more than 2,000 professional authors of books. Celebrating 40 years in 2013, the Union is dedicated to fostering writing in Canada, and promoting the rights, freedoms, and economic well-being of all writers.

For additional information:
Dorris Heffron
Chair, The Writers’ Union of Canada

John Degen
Executive Director
The Writers’ Union of Canada                                                 
416.703.8982 Ext. 221