Home Page News Opinion Foreign Policy Politics Policy Legislation Lobbying Hill Life & People Hill Climbers Heard On The Hill Calendar Archives Classifieds
Hill Times Events Hill Times Books Hill Times Careers The Wire Report The Lobby Monitor Parliament Now
Subscribe Free Trial Reuse & Permissions Advertising
Log In
Opinion

Time to get back to the bargaining table on copyright issues

By Glenn Rollans      

Canada’s authors and publishers—represented by Access Copyright—are ready and willing to negotiate. And if negotiations fail, we will respect the decisions of the Copyright Board.

Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly, pictured, and David Lametti, parliamentary secretary to the innovation minister are particularly well positioned to encourage the universities, colleges, and education ministers in the rest of Canada to get to the bargaining table. The Hill Times file photo by Andrew Meade
Share a story
The story link will be added automatically.

Last month, Laval University and Copibec, Quebec’s copyright collective, reached an amicable settlement concerning the unlicensed copying of copyright-protected works at the university.

For Canadian writers, illustrators, photographers, and publishers, this is fantastic news.

We ask the Government of Canada to seize this moment to encourage a similar settlement between Access Copyright, the Canadian copyright collective outside of Quebec, and universities and colleges outside of Quebec that receive federal funding. This might be the leadership provincial education ministers outside of Quebec need to see to take the obvious and necessary step of re-licensing the K-12 sector.

Universities, colleges, and schools in Canada, outside of Quebec, can make large scale, and sometimes, systematic use of digital and paper copies of copyright-protected materials without compensation to copyright holders.

The damage measured in lost revenues to publishers and authors has been massive, in the tens of millions of dollars per year in licensing fees alone. There’s also untold lost sales because of the problem of competing with free copies made without permission.

This means Canadian authors and publishers can’t afford to create Canadian resources for Canadian schools and universities. It means jobs have been lost, and fewer Canadian students will find work in creative professions and creative industries in Canada. It means that Canada is not meeting its international obligations with respect to copyright.

In Quebec, before the recent agreement between Copibec and Laval, the whole grade school and post-secondary sector except for Laval was already licensed. In the rest of Canada, with very few and small exceptions, the whole education sector has avoided licensing and thumbed its collective nose at mandatory tariffs.

The education sector says it’s impossible to negotiate with Access Copyright. But the truth is, they won’t even try. Emboldened in 2012 by the inclusion of education as a purpose for fair dealing in the amended Copyright Act, they have not made meaningful efforts to resolve this.

Although a Federal Court decision in July 2017, known as Access Copyright vs. York University, describes their shared copying policies as unfair and confirms that Copyright Board tariffs do indeed need to be paid, they continue to rely on illegal copying, and continue to recommend it to their staffs and students. York is appealing the decision. 

The problem is not Access Copyright. Canada’s authors and publishers—represented by Access Copyright—are ready and willing to negotiate. And if negotiations fail, we will respect the decisions of the Copyright Board.

The problem is that Canada’s universities, colleges, and education ministers outside of Quebec refuse to enter into meaningful negotiations, despite many invitations to do so. They appear to prefer to fight a legal war of attrition against Canada’s publishers and authors that they will win if no one steps in, because the education sector is the side with deep pockets.

Two MPs–Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly and David Lametti, parliamentary secretary to the innovation minister–are particularly well positioned to observe the Quebec example, and to encourage the universities, colleges, and education ministers in the rest of Canada to get to the bargaining table.

Their respective departments have joint responsibility for copyright, and they have the opportunity for real leadership in settling the copyright disputes that have done so much damage to the creative sector since the amendment of the Copyright Act in 2012.

By exercising that leadership, they’ll ensure the future supply of economical, professionally produced, Canadian educational resources, and the sustainability of a creative sector that will employ many of today’s students in the future.

The Copibec/Laval rapprochement in Quebec puts the writing on the wall: collective licensing is the obvious simple solution to this damaging situation. It is fair, inexpensive and convenient. It requires no change in behaviour by researchers, instructors or students.

We ask Ms. Joly and Mr. Lametti to use all of their influence and good offices to bring this solution to the rest of Canada.

Glenn Rollans is the president of the Association of Canadian Publishers.

The Hill Times

Politics This Morning

Get the latest news from The Hill Times

Politics This Morning


Your email has been added. An email has been sent to your address, please click the link inside of it to confirm your subscription.
More in News

It’s ‘vital’ feds name Conservatives to security committee soon, or it’ll ‘become problematic’: critics, experts

The Conservative Party said it’s offered two names—one several months ago—to fill its spots on the National Security and Intelligence Committee, but hasn’t heard back from the government.

Amid holiday festivities, Liberal leadership warns MPs, Hill staffers about ‘zero tolerance’ for harassment, confidential memo shows

News|By Abbas Rana
'Jokes in bad taste, comments about a colleague’s physical appearance, sustained looks, etc. can constitute harassment,’ reads the memo sent out Liberal MPs and staffers.

RCMP forensic lab ‘drowning in work’ as it misses all response targets, internal figures show

Lawyer Rick Woodburn says prosecutors have to wait too long for samples from the lab, leading to worrying court delays and cases being thrown out.

Booting of NATO group chair prompts new rules for association oversight

The Joint Interparliamentary Council approved a new process to step in when parliamentary associations lose confidence in their leaders.

As tax season nears, feds freeze Phoenix system changes to help issue proper income slips

News|By Emily Haws
Meanwhile, some MPs say they're still frustrated by the lack of constituency office support on Phoenix cases, and efforts continue to reduce the pay-problem case backlog, which on Nov. 28 was 289,000 open files.

Nothing in migration compact tells Canada to ‘open borders,’ says UN refugee agency rep

Also, Kazakhstan celebrates its 27th anniversary of independence and deepening relations with Canada after the historic visit of a Canadian Governor General.

End of an era: reporters say goodbye to the Hot Room as Centre Block closes for the next decade

Feature|By Emily Haws
The Hot Room, located at 350-N, gives regional correspondents and freelancers colleagues to bounce ideas off of and grow, says Winnipeg Free Press reporter Dylan Robertson.

‘Alberta is angry,’ says political strategist who predicts big trouble there for Trudeau’s Liberals in 2019

News|By Abbas Rana
The federal government needs to put in place a plan to help out Albertans in the fossil fuel industry to retrain themselves to find jobs in the green energy sector, says NDP MP Linda Duncan.

Feds’ justice reforms, poverty-reduction bill priorities for House in coming months: Chagger

News|By Beatrice Paez
House Leader Bardish Chagger said the government is hoping to see progress on Bill C-87, which seeks to halve poverty by 2030, and Bill C-75, a package of reforms to the justice system, in the coming months.
Your group subscription includes premium access to Politics This Morning briefing.