This morning, a letter was sent to the administration and governance heads of universities and colleges across Canada, expressing support for the recent model collective licences signed by university and college organizations. It is a remarkable document, representing a broad coalition of writer and publisher groups and individuals. You can see for yourself that many of the individuals who signed the letter (including world-renowned author, Margaret Atwood and Canada's current Parliamentary Poet Laureate, Fred Wah) are post-secondary instructors as well as cultural workers.
Including all the signatories and organizations involved in creating the message, this letter represents the collective opinion of thousands of individual cultural workers in Canada. There can be no doubt that Canadian writers and publishers want their rights collectively represented in the educational market, and that they see collective licensing as the best solution for everyone in the licensing arrangement, educators and students included.
I am pleased to say I helped in the drafting of the letter, and I proudly signed it as a Canadian author. If the small number of rogue universities and colleges that have decided not to license Canadian work think Canada's writers and publishers won't notice, they might want to think again.
Here's the letter:
A message to Canada’s universities and colleges
from Canada’s writers and publishers
We, the undersigned, wish to thank and congratulate the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC), the Association of Community Colleges of Canada (ACCC), and all the universities, colleges and academic libraries who have indicated their support for the model licences for blanket copyright clearance through Access Copyright.
As creators and producers of the important Canadian content used in lecture halls, seminars and institutions across the country, we license our copyrights to our collective society, Access Copyright, for greater efficiency. This arrangement has worked for more than two decades to ease clearance administration in post-secondary institutions and to ensure Canadian writers and publishers are compensated when our work is copied for educational use.
We believe the model licences endorsed by the AUCC and ACCC represent wins for students, librarians, universities, colleges, publishers, and creators. By licensing, for the first time, works in digital form, they provide new flexibility for anyone who uses copyright-protected material in higher education. By eliminating the per-page fee for course packs, they create very flexible clearance for students, who are the heaviest users of course materials. By covering an enormous range of copyright works, they allow scholars to access virtually anything they please, without the need to find rightsholders directly and negotiate one-off licences. And, by ensuring fair compensation for authors and publishers, these licences will contribute to the creation of new works.
We have heard the messages of those who advocate against the adoption of these licences, and we believe their concerns are based on misconceptions. These agreements do not require undue monitoring, and do not assume new rights. Collective licensing organizations like Access Copyright are invaluable partners to education, providing a crucial, streamlined link to those who create and produce educational materials. Remove the collective licensing option, and access to new materials would be needlessly complicated.
While Canada’s Copyright Modernization Act does increase exceptions, it does not change the essential logic or principle of copyright. When a writer’s work is used by others, the writer must be compensated. Where there are exceptions, the Act must continue to operate in a way that ensures writers’ incomes are not damaged, and the economic incentive to create the very works that institutions use is not diminished. As libraries and educational institutions discover new technologies and ways of sharing our work with students and the public, the royalty structure must follow suit.
We are disappointed that a small number of educational institutions and academic libraries have declared such licensing invalid or unnecessary. We remain hopeful that a closer examination of the licences will cause them to change their position. We want to thank you, the overwhelming majority of educational and information professionals in Canada, for setting a better example.
Angie Abdou Author; full-time Instructor at College of the Rockies, British Columbia
Margaret Atwood Author; former Instructor at the University of British Columbia, Sir George Williams University, University of Alberta, York University; former Writer in Residence at the University of Toronto
Eugene Benson Author; University Professor Emeritus at the University of Guelph
Suzanne Boles Writer; Past President, Professional Writers Association of Canada
Ron Brown Author; Past Chair, The Writers’ Union of Canada
Mike Bryan Vice-President, Canadian Publishers' Council
Trevor Cole Author
Greg Cook Author; former Professor at Acadia University and Saint Mary's University; former Writer in Residence at the University of Waterloo
Susan Crean Author; Instructor at York University, University of Toronto, UBC and Ryerson University
Erin Creasey Vice President, ECW Press; Council member, Association of Canadian Publishers
Alan Cumyn Author; former Writer in Residence, University of Ottawa
John Degen Author
William Deverell Author; B.A., J.D. University of Saskatchewan; D. Lett (Hon) from Simon Fraser University; former Professor at the University of Victoria
Ann Douglas Author; Past President, Professional Writers Association of Canada; former writing instructor, Trent University and Fleming College
Trevor Ferguson Author; Instructor at Concordia University
Nancy Flight Associate Publisher, Douglas & McIntyre; Secretary, Association of Canadian Publishers
Bill Freeman Author; former Professor at McMaster University, Vanier College, York University, and Centennial College
Annie Gibson Publisher, Playwrights Canada Press; Council member, Association of Canadian Publishers
Graeme Gibson Author; former Instructor at Ryerson University
Wayne Grady Author; Adjunct Professor at the University of British Columbia
Gordon Graham Writer; Past President, Professional Writers Association of Canada
Karen Green Chair, Literary Press Group of Canada
Barry Grills Author; former or current Instructor at Confederation College, Canadore College, and College Boreal
Tanya Gulliver Author; Past President, Professional Writers Association of Canada, Instructor, Ryerson University
Kevin Hanson President, Canadian Publishers' Council
Greg Hollingshead Author; Professor Emeritus at the University of Alberta
Kirk Howard President, Dundurn; Past President, Association of Canadian Publishers
Bill Harnum Publisher, Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies; Vice President and Past President, Association of Canadian Publishers
Penney Kome Author
Myrna Kostash Author; Writer in Residence at the University of Alberta; Professor at the University of Regina
Karen Krossing President, CANSCAIP
Paul Ledoux Advocacy Chair, PGC
Kathe Lieber Writer; Past President, Professional Writers Association of Canada
Janet Lunn Author
Amela Marin Author
Susan McIntosh Vice President, McGill-Queen’s University Press; Council member, Association of Canadian Publishers
Dr. Gerry McIntyre Executive Director, Canadian Educational Resources Council
Susan McMaster President, League of Canadian Poets
Christopher Moore Author
Susan Musgrave Author; current or former Instructor at the University of British Columbia, the University of Victoria, the University of Northern British Columbia, and the University of Waterloo
Erna Paris Author
Anna Porter Publisher and Author; Past President, Association of Canadian Publishers
Elyne Quan President, Playwrights Guild of Canada
Susan Renouf Past President, Association of Canadian Publishers
Jason Riley Treasurer, Canadian Publishers' Council
Rebecca Rose Publisher, Breakwater Books; Council member, Association of Canadian Publishers
Stuart Ross Author, former Writer in Residence at Queen's University
Karen Rowe Author, writing instructor
Andreas Schroeder Author; Instructor and Rogers Communications Chair in Creative Nonfiction at the University of British Columbia
Maggie Siggins Author; former Max Bell Chair on Journalism at the University of Regina; former Southam Fellow at Massey College, University of Toronto
Craig Silverman Writer; President, Professional Writers Association of Canada
Merilyn Simonds Author; Chair of The Writers’ Union of Canada; Adjunct Professor at the University of British Columbia
Adam Sol Poet; professor at Laurentian University
David Lewis Stein Author; former Instructor at the University of Toronto
David Swail Past President, Canadian Publishers’ Council
Susan Swan Author; Tenured Professor at York University
Audrey Thomas Author; former Instructor or Writer in Residence at Concordia University, the University of Ottawa, Simon Fraser University, the Universities of British Columbia, Toronto, and Victoria
Rodger Touchie Publisher, Heritage House; Past President, Association of Canadian Publishers
Bob Tyrrell President, Orca Book Publishers; Council member, Association of Canadian Publishers
Fred Wah Parliamentary Poet Laureate; Author; Professor Emeritus at the University of Calgary
Rudy Wiebe Author; former Professor at the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary, Regent College, and the Vancouver Canadian Mennonite University
Alana Wilcox Senior Editor, Coach House Press; Council member, Association of Canadian Publishers
Matt Williams Vice President, House of Anansi/Groundwood; Council member, Association of Canadian Publishers
Dave Williamson Author; former Dean of Business and Applied Arts at Red River College; past President of the Association of Canadian Schools of Business
Margie Wolfe Publisher, Second Story Press; President, Association of Canadian Publishers
The organizational coalition partners are:
Canadian Publishers' Council
Professional Writers Association of Canada
Canadian Educational Resources Council
Professional Writers Association of Canada
Canadian Educational Resources Council
UPDATE: I am happy to add names to the letter on this page. If you wish to be added, please send me your name, affiliation with Canadian writing and publishing, and any educational work credits. Thank you to Stuart Ross, poet, author, writer-in-residence for starting the additions. You can contact me on twitter @jkdegen.
Thanks for this John. It would be interesting to have a discussion of this letter here with any post-secondary community members who see (or don't see) the value of these licenses, not only to rights holders but to the institutions themselves and the future of a digital economy in Canada.
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