Canadian report recommends copyright changes to support local authors

May 20, 2019

The Copyright Agency welcomes a landmark report from the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage which has backed Canadian authors in their push to reform copyright laws in that country.

Copyright Agency CEO Adam Suckling says, “Canadian authors and publishers have endured serious erosions to their livelihoods since 2012 as a result of copyright changes which led to uncompensated use of published work by the education sector, and undermined the production of Canadian works.

“The Standing Committee report seeks to redress the issue by calling for those changes to be reversed. This is very positive news for our Canadian colleagues.”

Mr Suckling says The Writers Union of Canada’s position that “Fair dealing needs to be fair, not free, for educators,” echoes the Copyright Agency’s advocacy in this area over a number of years, through the Free Is Not Fair campaign.

“As Canada shows, to ensure a vibrant and healthy Australian content sector it is critical that creators are paid fairly for the use of their work,” Mr Suckling says.

The Writers Union of Canada (TWUC) says the report makes 22 key recommendations focused on strengthening the rights of artists to control and earn from their work in the digital age.

With its industry partners, TWUC asked for a better definition of the educational market. The report delivers on that request, with a series of recommendations aimed directly at the problem:

  1. That the Government of Canada amend the Act to clarify that ‘fair dealing’

should not apply to educational institutions when the work is commercially available.

 That the Government of Canada promote a return to licensing through collective societies.

 That the Government of Canada harmonize remedies for collective societies under the Copyright Act.

TWUC’s Executive Director and Chair of the International Authors Forum, John Degen, says “It’s less than a day old, and this report is already making waves in the global creative community. I’ve heard from colleagues as far away as New Zealand and South Africa, who will now be approaching their own lawmakers with this Canadian report in hand.

“It’s authoritative because it comes from a balanced, all-party committee that took its time, and responsibly tested the questions put to it. They took testimony from all players in the copyright debate, and asked a lot of hard questions of everyone.”

The Canadian Committee also recommended the introduction of an artists’ resale right, which has been in place in Australia since 2010.

The Heritage Committee report is one of two expected in Parliament during the Statutory Review of the Copyright Act. The Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology is expected to deliver its own recommendations soon, informed by the Heritage report and by broad sectoral testimony.



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