Copyright, as a source of income, is important for creators and their publishers as well as an economic vector for society. Often reduced to its simplest expression - citing the references and avoiding plagiarism - copyright means much more than respecting creators. Copyright funds the creative process and fosters innovation.
An important income for authors
Copyright is a property right that belongs exclusively to creators. Properly understood and well used, it is a way to diversify one's incomes from the same work and thus funds one's creative time and production costs.
Copyright includes the right to publish, translate, perform and reproduce. The exploitation of these rights can be regulated in several ways:
The rightsholder, the creator or the publisher, decides on which conditions the work can be used. The rightsholder can negotiate and monetize the exploitation of each of these rights.
Without copyright, works would not be protected and it would make it difficult for the creator to make any profit from them. For the creator, this means less money to pay for tools like paper, pencils, brushes, computer, camera, and so on.
Some of them choose to release the rights, in whole or in part, on some of their works for free. This prerogative of the creator is regulated by the Copyright Act.
Let's not forget that creators rarely make a living from their art. According to a study by the Union des écrivaines et des écrivains québécois, the average wage for authors is less than $3,000 per year. To meet their needs, most of them must create on their own time or reduce their hours at their main job. Without copyright, creators have no financial incentive to take the time to create.
A financial lever for publishers
For publishers, copyright is a major financial tool. Royalties coming from copyright enable them to cover their production costs and to finance production of new works. The royalties paid to publishers help to pay the authors for creating these works.
Copyright invigorates an entire economic sector
The economic development of the cultural sector is largely based on the exploitation of copyright. The entire production and distribution chain for books, music and films are regulated by the Copyright Act and copyright sharing agreements.
In Quebec, the book industry is regulated by the Loi du livre, which ensures a distribution of royalties to the various players in the book creation and distribution chain. This system gives rise to hundreds of authors each year and creates thousands of jobs in publishing houses, bookstores, libraries and distributors.
A strong copyright law strengthens the cultural sector while the weakening of the Copyright Act is disrupting this important economic sector for the country.
According to Statistics Canada, the cultural sector employed more than 665,000 people in Canada and contributed 3% to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2017. The book industry alone represents more than 15% of the Canadian cultural economy. In Quebec alone, the cultural sector contributes close to $11 billion to the economy and creates about 160,000 jobs.
Those jobs depend on a strong copyright legislation.
Reproduction rights, a plus value
Every year, millions of photocopies, scans and projections of books, newspapers and magazines are made across the country. Through reproduction rights, authors and publishers are compensated for these uses without having to invest additional time and money.
In Quebec, these rights are administered by Copibec, a non-profit organization whose mission is to distribute royalties for the reproduction of protected works. This model allows for the redistribution of more than $13 million in royalties each year.
However, since 2012, these millions of dollars are jeopardized by many misinterpreted exceptions in the Copyright Act. Considering the average wage for an author is only $3,000 a year, a poorly protected reproduction right would deal a severe blow to the book industry.
Copyright for everyone
This is why the Copyright Act must be revised as soon as possible. Copyright is vital to any person or business operating in the cultural sector and contributes to Quebec and Canada economic development.
The solutions to those problems are known and simple to implement. Copibec made several recommendations as part of the latest review of the Copyright Act (2017-2019). Many other organizations and coalitions have also contributed by proposing innovative solutions.
This mobilization around the cultural sector shows the importance of copyright in the daily lives of thousands of creators.