Tuesday, July 27, 2010
what are 3 million books worth?
That's a question the framers of Canada's Bill C-32 are going to have to ask themselves after a recent Federal Court of Appeal decision to support a 2009 tariff certified by the Copyright Board of Canada. The tariff was under review at the request of all provincial Ministers of Education (except Quebec's) and a number of individual school boards.
Access Copyright, Canada's Copyright Licensing Agency sent out a press release yesterday announcing the ruling, calling it "an important decision for rights holders not just in the education sector, but in every field of creative endeavour."
Access Copyright has shown that over 250 million pages of work are photocopied for use in the Canadian K-12 sector, an amount roughly equivalent to 3 million books. Access Copyright's Executive Director Maureen Cavan notes:
"That's 3 million books that have not been sold. As long as reproduction is compensated, creators and publishers and the thousands of knowledge workers supported by this industry can survive. Take away the compensation, and you will jeopardize a Canadian industry that provides Canadian children and their teachers with Canadian content."
On the other hand, the introduction of an overly broad exception to copyright for educational use would all but eliminate fair compensation for this established use. While happy with the Court of Appeal ruling, Access Copyright General Counsel, Roanie Levy, worries about the unintended effects of copyright amendments under C-32.
"The decision is bitter-sweet when you consider that the federal government's proposed changes to the Copyright Act could impair future compensation for reproduction of materials used in education."
250 million of anything is bound to have important economic value - even 3 million is not a figure one would ordinarily discard with the wave of a hand. Undoubtedly, the special committee on C-32 will be hearing a strong message about knowledge workers and education from the creator sector. After all, everyone else gets paid for their work in education. It would be odd, and rather expensive, if writers and publishers find themselves caught up in an exception to that rule.
Especially when the presumed reasoning behind an educational exception - providing easy and worry-free access to a large pool of creative work - is the very reasoning behind the tariff. From AC's info page on the tariff:
The tariff is designed to allow you to make copies that would not be covered by fair dealing or available through the public domain . It simplifies your job by eliminating the need to ask permission every time you want to make a copy.
The tariff provides permission to copy from a vast repertoire of commercially published books, magazines, journals and newspapers, and ensures that creators and publishers are paid when their works are copied.