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Société québécoise de gestion collective des droits de reproduction

Newsletter - December 18, 2017
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Copyright Act / Université Laval / Royalties / 20th anniversary

With the year drawing to a close, this is a fitting time to share some good news for authors, creators and publishers as Copibec prepares to celebrate its 20th anniversary and gears up for the five-year review of the Copyright Act that was recently announced.

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Executive Director’s update

Copyright Act review

The amendments to the Copyright Act adopted in November 2012 included provisions requiring the legislation to be reviewed every five years. On December 13, 2017, the federal government announced that the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology would be overseeing this review. Copibec will be monitoring this file closely.

Class action against Université Laval

There has been a new development in the class action against Université Laval: The judge has denied the motion filed by the university, which wanted to suspend the proceedings until a decision had been made in the lawsuit involving Access Copyright and York University. The decision to deny Laval’s motion is positive for authors and publishers because it avoids unnecessarily extending the proceedings.
You may remember that in the case between York University and Access Copyright, the Federal Court judge delivered a ruling in July 2017 in favour of Access Copyright. He concluded that York’s policy on content use was not fair dealing but was instead arbitrary, and that the university would have to pay the royalties it owed to authors and publishers.

Education sector royalty payment

As our class action proceeds, we’re continuing our regular operations and recently paid out royalties collected from Quebec’s education sector. Authors and publishers shared a total of more than $7 million in royalties collected when their content was used by educational institutions at the preschool, elementary, high school, college and university levels.

Unfortunately, during the past two years, despite a higher number of students, the amount of royalties distributed has fallen by over 17%. The reduction is attributable to a lower royalty rate paid by CEGEPs and universities since 2014 following changes to the Copyright Act. Université Laval’s decision to go ahead with unauthorized reproduction instead of continuing to pay royalties to Copibec has also had a negative impact on the amounts paid out to authors and publishers.

Even though revenues were down, we’ve kept our administration fees at their current low level of 15%. The total distributed this year was essentially the same as what was paid out last year because those royalties were collected during the second year of the education sector licences negotiated in 2014. However, when the licences were renegotiated in the spring of 2017, we had to grant further reductions in the royalty rates for CEGEPs and universities. The impact of those reductions will be felt by authors and publishers when future distributions take place.

Here are some interesting facts about the education sector royalty payment: at the elementary/high school and college levels, most of the titles reproduced are from Quebec and paper format remains the most popular way of reproducing excerpts! In addition, 281 authors and 151 publishers in Quebec received cheques for $1,000 or more to cover their content reproduced by Quebec educational institutions.

In terms of the type of content, excerpts reproduced from books were the most popular reported to Copibec at each of the educational levels.

By far, most of the reproduced content reported to us comes from books, not scientific journals. It’s important to clarify that educational institutions don’t pay twice for the same content. If the content is already covered by a subscription, it doesn’t have to be reported under a Copibec licence. By taking advantage of Copibec licences, educational institutions gain legal access to millions of documents published in about 30 different countries and, at the same time, they make sure authors are paid for that content.

Copibec licences have evolved in line with user habits but still enable authors and publishers to be compensated for their work. As we frequently point out, accessible isn’t synonymous with free of charge. Collective rights management allows for a balanced ecosystem where every worker receives compensation. This balance means authors and their publishers are paid so they can continue to create and distribute their works under better conditions while giving educational institutions and society in general the opportunity to enjoy easy access to a pool of works and creations that’s constantly being renewed and updated.

Copibec: Working together for 20 years

On a celebratory note, we’d like to reflect fondly on the past two decades and wish a happy anniversary to authors, creators and publishers. Copibec was created 20 years ago!
It was in November 1997 that authors and publishers (later joined by journalists and visual artists) came together to offer one-stop service that made it easier for users to pay royalties when content was used. Today, more than ever, the role of copyright collectives is crucial so we can continue to work together and keep communication lines open in the struggle against those who want to pit authors and publishers against content users.

In closing, I’d like to wish you a very joyous holiday season and encourage you to view our short animated video created in French for this occasion! Click the image below and turn up the sound!

Please note that the Copibec office will close for the Holidays on the afternoon of December 22. We’ll be back in fine form on January 8, 2018.

Frédérique Couette
Executive Director


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