This past weekend I received an e-mail from Erin Finlay, Legal Counsel and Manager of Legal Services for Access Copyright, the Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency with the above title as subject line. Ms. Finlay had read my last posting and could relate. You see, last week, she had responded to a CTV reporter covering the story of Canadian universities restricting the use of Canadian content in their classrooms in order to avoid paying a tariff. Her quote appeared in the CTV story online, setting Ms. Finlay up as the latest target of anonymous free-culture rage.
A pseudonymous blogger named mrlemurboy made this very public claim about Ms. Finlay:
"Erin, and the rest of the folks at Access Copyright are giant douche-bags. Yes, that’s right, douche-bags! I may even go so far as to say slimy douche-bags."Though it seems ridiculously unnecessary, I'd like to inform the Internet that Erin Finlay is NOT a giant d*****-bag. Rather, she is a very nice law-talking person with a passion for singing. Erin has managed to combine her interests in both the law and the arts, and works very hard for the protection of Canada's professional creators.
As for mrlemurboy, please get your facts straight before reaching into the free-culture can o' nasty. Things you got wrong:
Access Copyright has a Monopoly on copyright for educational institutionsCapitalizing and bolding the word monopoly does not make it an accurate description. Canadian educational institutions have many options for obtaining copyright protected materials. If they want the materials represented by Access Copyright, they should deal with Access Copyright. That's not a monopoly, it's a repertoire.
Access Copyright wants to increase what it charges by 1300%The 1300% figure lemurboy quotes is so wrong not even moderately well-informed free-culture advocates try to quote it anymore (except when they think it might fool someone). Maureen Cavan, Access Copyright's Executive Director battles the free-culture misinformation on pricing in a recent letter to the editor, where she writes:
"Previously, students had to pay anything from $3.38 to over $200 per year in royalties. This included a flat fee plus 10 cents per page when protected works were included in coursepacks. That easily adds up. We have offered instead to blend the flat fee and the per page fee into one. Students would no longer pay the per page fee each time they buy a coursepack. The proposed tariff also includes digital scanning and posting, a growing practice not currently paid for.
While we suggested an upper limit of $45 per student, the actual rate will be decided by the Copyright Board, an independent arbitrator that will make its own value assessment based on facts presented by us and the educational institutions themselves. Pending that, no institution is facing a sudden cost spike. It is disingenuous to suggest otherwise."