The Writers’ Union of Canada Supports Access Copyright in Educational Sector Legal Action

The Writers' Union of Canada
Press Release

For Immediate Release

This month, Canada’s copyright licensing agency, Access Copyright, filed a Statement of Defence and Counterclaim in litigation launched against it by Ontario school boards and Ministries of Education from most provinces. The education sector launched this litigation earlier this year, claiming it is owed more than $25 million in previously collected copyright payments. The combined plaintiffs insist a Copyright Board ruling reducing the tariff rate for the K–12 school sector in Canada resulted in an historical overpayment. British Columbia and Quebec have declined to join the litigation.

In its counterclaim, Access Copyright correctly notes that the plaintiffs have themselves refused to pay the very same mandatory certified tariff under which they make their claim for refund. In the years since the plaintiffs stopped paying this enforceable tariff, even with a retroactive refund included in the calculation, the K–12 sector’s copying bill has grown to more than $24 million.

“This aggressive legal action by provincial ministries and school boards is little more than delay and intimidation,” said Eric Enno Tamm, Chair of The Writers’ Union of Canada. “It’s an attempt to distract from the larger issue of educational copying, which is currently under review at Parliament.”

Through recent testimony before two Parliamentary Standing Committees, the Copyright Board and at Federal Court, it has become clear to lawmakers that the education sector has grossly overreached in its claims of “fair dealing” when copying published works for use on course reading lists and in classrooms.

The Writers’ Union of Canada is a founding affiliate member of Access Copyright. TWUC agrees with Access Copyright's assessment in its counterclaim, and calls on the various Ministries of Education and school boards to withdraw litigation and return to a respectful licensing environment for educational copying. This irresponsible legal gambit will not result in education being excused from copyright tariffs and, in the meantime, it is wasting taxpayer money better used for curriculum development and materials acquisition. 


 The Writers’ Union of Canada is our country’s national organization representing approximately 2100 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.

For additional information:
John Degen, Executive Director
The Writers’ Union of Canada
416.703.8982 Ext. 221

DATE: July 30, 2018