Friday, September 14, 2012

destroying the market for writing, one chapter at a time

An approximate depiction of the mix of materials used
in colleges and universities across Canada 20 years ago.

"Adding education to fair dealing is not about saving money... Fair dealing is there, though, for those situations around the edge, and sometimes you need to copy a chapter—one good chapter from a book—that you wouldn't otherwise ask the students to purchase."
-- Samuel Trosow (Associate Professor, University of Western Ontario, Faculty of Law and Faculty of Information and Media Studies), before the C-11 Committee of Parliament on February 27, 2012
Above is a classic example of the doublespeak one hears from Canada's freecult (of which Prof. Trosow is a founding member, I believe). We don't intend to use fair dealing to avoid paying for books; we simply intend to use it to avoid paying for books.

The fair dealing provision within copyright law provides writers and students with the ability to freely copy short excerpts from written work without obtaining the permission of the author or publisher, and was never intended to take the place of fair compensation for industrial, or even personal use of works. Even with "education" added to research and private study as an allowable category for fair dealing (as was done in Bill C-11), and even with a recent SCC decision regarding teachers in K-12 classrooms copying excerpts for students, the idea that anyone can freely copy an entire chapter of a book is a gross misreading of the law. Such a substantial amount of copying requires a licence, usually a collective licence.

The notion that one should be allowed to separate a book into its individual chapters for the express purpose of then freely copying the one chapter you choose to use in place of the entire book, and that such a practice will not harm the market for writers and publishers is demonstrably absurd. Right now in universities and colleges across Canada, chapters of books are copied into bound coursepacks of disparate readings. The textbook sales reduction that results from this practice is partially compensated for by collective licence payments for use of the individual chapters. Anyone who has attended a college or university in the last twenty years will know that coursepack production is on the rise, and therefore the use of full textbooks is dropping.

With the rise of coursepack production, the materials mix probably looks more like this now -
note, however that coursepacks still require a licence.

In today's marketplace for writing, a chapter often is an entire work. There is a growing demand, and a growing market, for longform journalistic works sold as entire e-files. Professional writers are just now discovering and expanding a market for chapter-sized works that may very well find themselves into the coursepacks of tomorrow.

Yet Trosow's expansive and wholly inaccurate definition of fair dealing shows us just where free culture activists in Canada want to take the practice of educational copying. They would eliminate the need to pay for coursepack collections and other substantial copying in schools.

Does anyone really believe this dealing is fair?

This new materials mix, hoped for by the freecult, would cost Canadian writers
and publishers tens of millions of dollars per year.

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