On September 13, the Coalition for the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (CDCE) held a debate on culture. The candidates of the 5 main parties explained their plans for the economic revival of the cultural sector. Firm commitments were made in favour of a major revision of the Copyright Act.
From the outset, during the discussion on copyright, the host Catherine Pellerin quoted the open letter published by Copibec and its member associations that same day: "If Canadian copyright laws were a cheese, it would be a Gruyère cheese. With big, big holes."
The book community has never had such a frank unanimity on this issue since 2012. Everyone agrees that educational institutions should pay authors and editors for the extensive use of their work.
Did you miss the debate on culture? Watch it online!
The recommendations of the 2019 Shifting Paradigms report released by the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage were brought to the debate by Green candidate Mathieu Goyette. Among the recommendations: framing the application of the so-called fair use exceptions in the Copyright Act and encouraging negotiations through collective management societies.
Steven Guilbeault, the Liberal candidate and outgoing Minister of Canadian Heritage, agreed: "We are committed to reviewing the Copyright Act in light of the Supreme Court decision [in the Access Copyright/York University case]. " A message echoed by the Bloc and NDP candidates.
Last August, the highest tribunal in the country rendered a decision that was eagerly awaited by the book industry. York University wanted the Court to confirm that the fair dealing exceptions in the Copyright Act allowed the university to make extensive use of copyrighted works without paying the rights holders.
The Supreme Court did not uphold nor overturn the University's claim and referred the matter back to the House of Commons.
Insisting that "all work deserves to be paid", Alexandre Boulerice from the NDP insisted on the importance of clarifying the notion of fair dealing. "That's the problem. The legal route has been tried. It doesn't work. We must take the legislative route."
Following up on the Supreme Court decision, Martin Champoux, a Bloc Québécois MP, reminded that the judges are now passing the responsibility back to Ottawa. "It's been since 2012 that the ball is thrown from one place to another. It is time for politicians to take responsibility."
Th election will be held on September 20. Will the candidates' words be transformed into concrete actions for the cultural and book industry? The power is now at the voters' fingertips.
The parties must now keep their promises. Call on your candidates on social media.