Wait-and-see approach and lack of concrete measures:
Committee reviewing the Copyright Act fails to support copyright owners
Montreal, June 10, 2019 – Copibec is disappointed with the wait-and-see approach underpinning the conclusions of the Report of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology (INDU), which puts off until later any concrete measures that would re-establish a true balance between the needs of users and the rights of creators and their publishers. However, we find it noteworthy that the Committee rejected the claims made by Canadian universities and education ministries outside Quebec and did not recognize the validity of the fair dealing policies and practices they have implemented.
Educational fair dealing
The damage that has been caused since the word “education” was added to the fair dealing exceptions in 2012 was documented in detail throughout the consultation process, as Copibec's memorandum can attest. It is therefore very discouraging to see the Committee recommend examining the situation once again. “Despite overwhelming evidence of the detrimental impacts that resulted from adding the concept of education to the fair dealing exceptions, the Committee has not proposed any structurally impactful measures and recommends that more studies be done on this subject within the next three years. Everyone knows very well that the situation will continue to get worse,” stated Frédérique Couette, Executive Director of Copibec.
In terms of the behaviour of Canadian educational institutions and education ministries outside Quebec in the past five years, the Committee stated that “licensing should be encouraged” and clearly dismissed the arguments made by those institutions. In particular, the Committee indicated that their fair dealing policies “faced appropriate scepticism in a court” and that “a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach … hardly suits section 29 of the Act as currently written.” The Committee also mentioned that adequate measures to prevent and discourage copyright infringement have not been adopted.
In addition, the Committee recommended that the government “should consider” encouraging negotiations between educational institutions and collective societies. “The weakness of that formulation is a faithful reflection of the report itself. Ultimately, it’s a start and we hope the government will move forward in that direction. We have always favoured discussions with the education sector and we will of course participate in any mediation efforts undertaken by the government,” Frédérique Couette explained. “That being said, what’s the incentive for educational institutions given that one of the reasons why negotiations are so difficult to initiate is that the statutory damages for copyright infringement under the Act do not serve as a deterrent? The Committee’s recommendation to increase the amount of damages in line with inflation is grossly insufficient when you consider what those amounts represent in proportion to the overall university and education ministry budgets.”
Report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage
The INDU Committee’s report stands in stark contrast to the Shifting Paradigms report tabled on May 15, 2019 by the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage (CHPC) after it completed a review that was just as broad as that of the INDU Committee, giving it the opportunity to hear from stakeholders in a wide range of sectors. “Even though the report on remuneration models for artists was requested by the INDU Committee, the members of that Committee admitted that they hadn’t read it,” complained Gilles Herman, Copibec’s Chair of the Board. “On one side we have the CHPC Committee’s report that looked at the consequences of the many exceptions introduced in 2012. It recommends concrete measures to comply with international treaties and ensure that creators receive remuneration. On the other side we have a report that lacks substance and holds off on any measures to re-establish the essential balance that was ruptured in 2012 between the needs of users and the rights of creators and their publishers.”
We hope that the INDU Committee will pay close attention to the report submitted by their colleagues on the CHPC Committee and that it will be able to draw fitting conclusions from it. Moreover, we are eagerly awaiting the government’s reaction to these two reports.
Copibec will continue to work with the government to defend the rights of authors, creators and publishers because the arts and culture sector urgently needs concrete measures.
Copibec is a non-profit social enterprise created in 1997 by the Union des écrivaines et des écrivains québécois (UNEQ) and the Association nationale des éditeurs de livres (ANEL) to manage the reproduction rights for content in paper and digital formats. It has the authority to manage the reproduction rights for thousands of Quebec authors and publishers as well as the authors and publishers represented by reproduction rights organizations in 33 countries, including the United States, France and Belgium.