As a Canadian author, you can take action to protect your rights and those of your fellow creators! Below are some things you can do today.
Update on the Legal Action Against Audible
Months ago, we advised that CAA had joined with U.S.-based Authors Guild and many other author organizations around the world in signing a letter to Audible expressing our grave concern over its exchange policy, and to ask that it immediately end its attempt to expand its Premium Plus subscriber program at the expense of authors’ incomes.
Our demands to Audible included that it immediately cease the practice of deducting royalties from authors accounts when a purchased audiobook is returned or exchanged days, weeks or even months later, after they have had an opportunity to listen to the entire book
The Audiblegate movement—a fight against Audible for unpaid royalties and greater transparency in reporting—recently updated its supporters via email. Author Susan May summarized the group’s legal strategy and team, which involves Jonathan Kanter, recently nominated to run the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. May writes, “I’m also investigating mounting a class action suit and have had preliminary discussions with a law firm. We need a multi-prong attack to not only recover our stolen funds but also stop the continuation of Audible’s monopolistic abuse of authors, narrators, and readers.”
Audiblegate has a dedicated website and podcast if you want to learn more and sign up for updates.
The April 2020 Federal Court of Appeal decision, the July 2021 Supreme Court of Canada decision, mandatory copyright review process reports, and what you can do now – Part 4
In three previous instalments, we alerted you to Canada’s fractured copyright framework, and urged you to help fix it. Here we provide a further update, Part 4, on this same topic.
As you recall, both Access Copyright and York University appealed the April 2020 decision of the Federal Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC).
- York University appealed the part of the FCA decision affirming that its copyright policy did not constitute fair dealing.
- Access Copyright appealed the part of the FCA decision that ruled tariffs are not mandatory.
Creators hoped the SCC would first, reverse the Federal Court of Appeal’s 2020 ruling that Copyright Board-sanctioned tariffs are not mandatory, and second, affirm the lower federal courts’ ruling that neither York University’s fair dealing policy nor its actual practices constitute fair dealing.
Unfortunately, the Supreme Court of Canada did neither.
On the issue of whether tariffs are mandatory, the SCC said it agreed with the Federal Court of Appeal that Copyright Board approved tariffs “are voluntary for users. If a user who chooses not to be licensed under a tariff makes an unauthorized use of a work, the remedy is an infringement action which Access Copyright does not have standing to assert because it does not own the copyright.” In other words, in almost all cases, it would be up to the individual author of the infringed work to sue the university for damages.
The SCC observed that Parliament could amend the current wording on the law regarding the voluntary nature of tariffs. We therefore urge you to contact your MP and the federal Ministers jointly responsible for copyright to request this very amendment.
It is critical to make all MPs aware of the creators’ perspective in these complex issues.
Once again, we urge you to write your MPs, cc’ing the federal Ministers responsible for copyright legislation. Press them to address reform of the tariff provisions (and other copyright issues) as soon as possible. If the tariff system is not fixed quickly, creators all over the country will suffer for years.
To assist you in drafting correspondence, here are some passages to use:
In its recent York University vs. Access Copyright decision, the Supreme Court of Canada said due to technical language, tariffs set and sanctioned by the Copyright Board, a federal agency, are voluntary and not mandatory. Therefore, if a university decided it didn’t want to pay the tariff, the only solution for a creator whose work is copied without compensation is to sue the university in court.
It is simply not financially feasible for individuals like me to sue institutions such as universities or boards of education for copyright infringement. This is the reason that copyright collectives are set up. This is the reason that the Copyright Board sets tariffs for users.
The SCC said Parliament could amend the current wording on the law regarding the voluntary nature of tariffs. As your constituent, I urge you to do this immediately. It is clear the federal government is interested in a workable modern copyright framework, and an enforceable tariff is an obvious part of that.
When the SCC rules that Copyright Board-sanctioned tariffs are voluntary instead of mandatory, then the law undermines the ability of writers to earn an income from writing and in fact, we’re disabled from creating. We need to earn an income somehow, and if our writing is not rewarded, then we must resort to other ways of earning.
When the law forces individual writers to go to court against large institutions, which most of us are not capable of doing, that means our works can be copied without compensation, and we are being exploited. Since the federal government is interested in ensuring that literature continues to express national culture, heritage, values and issues, it follows that the government should promote the ability of writers to create. And that means fixing the law.
To find your MP, enter your postal code on the webpage at this link: https://www.ourcommons.ca/Members/en/search
Letters mailed to MPs require no postage and are to be mailed to a single address:
House of Commons
OTTAWA, ON K1A 0A6
Here are the relevant federal Ministers and their email addresses:
- The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage: email@example.com
- The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry: Francois-Philippe.Champagne@parl.gc.ca
Please also post messages on your websites, blogs and other networks, advising your colleagues and readers of the issue. Then they too can take action to ensure the federal government acts promptly to ensure that quality Canadian literary content remains available.
Please act now, while the current federal government is engaged in modernizing the copyright framework.
CALL TO ACTION from Access Copyright
July 26, 2021
With all signs pointing to a federal election being called any day, each party is working on developing and finalizing their election platform. There is no doubt that a significant focus of this campaign will be each party’s plan for economic recovery in order to support Canadians as we move out of these challenging times.
As part of our ongoing efforts to urge the federal government to fix our copyright law so that Canadian creators and publishers can be fairly paid once again for the educational use of their work, we recently sent each of the major political party leaders a letter stressing how critical it is that creators and publishers are included in their proposals to revitalize our economy. Copies of the letters we sent in both English and French are attached.
The letter details some background on the issue of education fair dealing and its impact on creators and publishers. It also highlights that the solution to this problem is largely found in recommendations 18-21 of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage’s Shifting Paradigms report that were unanimously endorsed. We also specifically ask each party leader to include their party’s support to implementing these recommendations in their election platform.
We encourage you to send a similar letter to each party leaders imploring them to commit to restoring fair payment to creators and publishers for educational copying in their election platforms, and to also refer to the letter that we sent on July 22.
Here are the letters Access Copyright sent to the party leaders:
Here are the emails to please use when sending a letter to each party leader.
Prime Minister Trudeau
Please send to firstname.lastname@example.org and cc Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault: email@example.com & Innovation, Science and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne: ISI.minister-ministre.ISI@canada.ca
Time-sensitive CALL TO ACTION from Access Copyright
On May 13th, Access Copyright and Copibec will be meeting with the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry (ISI) and the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage, to discuss the impact that the changes made to the Copyright Act in 2012 have had on our creators and publishers and to impress upon them the enormity of the problem and the urgent need for the government to act.
Since this is the first time the Minister of ISI has ever meet with Access Copyright, it presents a perfect opportunity to get both ministers on the same page about our issue.
In advance of this meeting, Access Copyright is asking writers to make a phone call to Minister Champagne’s office at (343) 548-3279 and leave a message.
It’s as simple as saying:
“Hi, I’m XX and I and my fellow authors haven’t been paid by the education sector for the use of my work since 2012 because of changes made to the Copyright Act. You need to fix this.”
it should take you less than five minutes. But the impact of multiple calls from creators and publishers to his office, days before he meets with us, will impress upon him the urgent need to fix our copyright law.
if the voicemail box is full, text your message to that same number. Remember, the meeting is on May 13, so please act now to help make change happen.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Access Copyright at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CALL TO ACTION: Share the urgent need to fix fair dealing with the federal government
Over the past few months, Access Copyright has worked with a small group of authors to test out a book mailing campaign to push Prime Minister Trudeau and the federal government to reform the Copyright Act so that Canadian creators and publishers are paid for the use of their work by the education sector.
You may have seen authors such as Sylvia McNicoll, Robert Rotenberg and Amy Stuart on social media sharing that they mailed one of their books as well as personal letter to the PM. Many of the authors who have taken part have received letters back from the PM’s office confirming their mailing were getting through and thanking them for sharing their work with the Prime Minister. With that welcome news, it is now time to take this campaign to the next level.
That’s where we hope you will get involved.
It’s all part of an effort to bring to Ottawa’s attention the urgent need to address the education fair dealing exception, which has resulted in much of the education sector refusing to pay approximately $150 million in royalties for educational copying.
The federal government plans to introduce a bill later this year to update the Copyright Act to address its obligations under Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement to extend the term of copyright protection. They are also in the process of conducting a series of consultations around various aspects of copyright law which will inform additional the amendments to the Act.
At this time, the government has not indicated any intention to address the harm caused by the education fair dealing exception. This is deeply concerning as our creative sector has been dealing with the impact of this issue for almost a decade now. That’s why we are asking you to join this campaign today and share your work and your thoughts on what it means to be a Canadian creator with the PM, and why the federal government needs to take action to fix fair dealing.
Here is how you can get involved
Mail one of your books to Prime Minister Trudeau
Who better than you to share a Canadian story with the PM? Along with a book, include a personal note to him describing what trying to build a living as a professional writer looks like in Canada. How do you make ends meet? What sacrifices do you have to make? How has the loss of royalties from the education sector affected you? The mailing address is:
Right Honorable Justin Trudeau, P.C. , M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2
Share your mailing on social media
Before you mail out your book, please take a picture and post it to your social media platforms, with an explanation of why you are sending your book to the PM—for example, “I mailed my latest book to Prime Minster Trudeau to remind him what supporting Canadian creators really means.” It’s important that Canadians see the faces behind our stories and their rich diversity.
Here is how to make your message heard
- Tag Prime Minister Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau), Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault (@s_guilbeault) and Innovation, Science, and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne (@FP_Champagne).
- Use the hashtags #IValueCdnStories & #cdnpoli.
- Tag our organization as well as Access Copyright (@AccessCopyright) and I Value Canadian Stories (Twitter: @valuecdnstories; Facebook: @IValueCanadianStories; Instagram: @ivaluecanadianstories).
- Please email email@example.com to let us know you have mailed a book to the Prime Minister.
Encourage others to get involved
Help build the momentum by encouraging others in your network to take part.
Amplify what others are doing
Share posts related to the campaign. Just search for #IValueCdnStories on Twitter, Instagram in Facebook and then RT, share, like and comment away!
Email Access Copyright at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Federal Government Looking at Copyright and Legislation Affecting Writers
A consultation on how to implement an extended general term of copyright protection in Canada
The Canada-United States-Mexico trade agreement requires Canada to extend the term of copyright protection from 50 to 70 years, in keeping with the term of copyright protection in the US and Mexican parallel legislation. Canada has a few years to comply. In this consultation, the government asked whether the law should be changed respecting orphan works, out-of-commerce works, and Crown copyright.
The Advocacy Committee responded. See the Canadian Authors Association response here (PDF).
Right of Remuneration for Journalistic Work
A bill sponsored by Sen Claude Carignan was tabled in the Senate proposing a right of remuneration for journalistic works. First reading was February 17, 2021. For more information, go to https://parl.ca/DocumentViewer/en/43-2/bill/S-225/first-reading.
The Advocacy Committee does not plan to respond in this case but welcomes your input.
Send your input to the Advocacy Committee via email at email@example.com
Author Organizations Demand Audible Stop Charging Authors for Returns
Canadian Authors has joined with U.S.-based Authors Guild and many other author organizations around the world in signing a letter to Audible expressing our grave concern over its exchange policy, and to ask that it immediately end its attempt to expand its Premium Plus subscriber program at the expense of authors’ incomes.
Our demands to Audible include that it:
- Immediately cease the practice of deducting royalties from authors accounts when a purchased audiobooks is returned or exchanged days, weeks or even months later, after they have had an opportunity to listen to the entire book;
- Show the total number purchases and returns on the author dashboards, not just the “net sales” already adjusted for any returns; and
- Satisfy demands that many authors have made for a full and complete accounting of returns made pursuant to this policy.
CAA was founded 100 years ago to protect the rights of writers, and we continued to carry out our mandate to inform, persuade, and advocate on your behalf.
If you would like to sign your name to the list, the Authors Guild may still be collecting signatures. Add your name to the list here.
International Authors Forum Report on the Challenges Facing Author Incomes
Over the past 18 months, the International Authors Forum (IAF) has been collating research into authors’ incomes, with input from writers organizations from around the world. This research has fed into the Creating a Living: Challenges for authors’ income report, which highlights the urgent need for a better understanding of the issues authors worldwide currently face when it comes to earning a creative living. With evidence of declining incomes likely further affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, IAF is now calling for World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to look into the current economic position of authors
- Read the report at internationalauthors.org/creating.
- As part of this launch, Maureen Duffy, author and campaigner, recently spoke with Francis Gurry, outgoing WIPO Director General, about the importance of fair remuneration of authors, the current state of creators’ income and what organisations like WIPO can do to help. Watch the interview here.
- Follow IAF on Instagram @InternationalAuthorsForum.
- Watch the Creating a Living: Artist’s Resale Right debate (see details below).
Creating a Living: Artist’s Resale Right
Following the release of the Creating a Living report and the online webinar on Public Lending Right, the International Authors Forum (IAF) is organizing a webinar on the significance of Artist’s Resale Right (ARR). ARR entitles creators of original works of art to a royalty each time their work is resold through an auction house or an art market professional. ARR can be a significant source of revenue by supporting visual artists’ practices and estate legacies, recognizing the ongoing stake an artist has in the increasing value of their work and helping to establish parity for artists.
Read about IAF’s position on ARR here.
The event will be held online via Zoom on March 4 at 14:30 GMT (9:30 AM ET / 6:30 AM PT).
John Degen, IAF Chair, will be hosting this event.
Rut Blees Luxemburg – Artist, Board Director, DACS
Sofie Grettve von Rosen – Manager ARR, Bildupphovsrätt
Janet Hicks – Vice President, Director of Licensing, Artists Rights Society
Reema Selhi – Legal and Policy Manager, DACS
Edward Waddimba – President, Uganda Visual Artists and Designers Association (UVADA), and Chairman, East African Visual Arts Council
Tweet about it on the day using #CreatingALiving.
You can register for this event here.
For more details, or if you have issues registering for the event, contact Athanasios.Venitsanopoulos@internationalauthors.org.
Towards a National Network of Legal Clinics for the Arts
It’s no secret that writers and other artists often need legal advice when it comes to copyright, contracts, defamation, operating as a small business, and other challenges they face. It’s also not a secret that the cost of obtaining legal advice can be prohibitive for a struggling artist. While there are a few legal clinics for artists scattered across Canada, there aren’t nearly enough — and artists often aren’t aware they exist. This situation has been exacerbated by COVID-19.
To better understand the gap in access to legal services, a group made up of members from several existing legal clinics for the arts, as well as lawyers currently working with artists, initiated a systematic national legal needs assessment of Canada’s arts sector. The needs assessment incorporated findings from an extensive national survey, regional focus groups, and individual local interviews.
- Read the report on this study here.
- Read the following articles on how the artist community is faring during COVID-19 and how the developing National Network of Legal Clinics for the Arts aims to be of service:
- Need legal advice? Check out the current list of legal clinics serving artists on our website at https://canadianauthors.org/national/legal-clinics-for-artists/.
Help Save Our Culture
To find out more and how you can help, go to https://saveourculture.ca/
Support PEN Canada
Canadian Authors has worked multiple times in the past to support the work of PEN Canada. You can take action, too, in support of writers around the world who are imprisoned.
Oppose “Controlled Digital Lending”
“Controlled Digital Lending” or “CDL” is a recently invented legal theory that allows libraries to justify the scanning (or obtaining of scans) of print books and e-lending those digital copies to users without obtaining authorization from the copyright owners. Both the US Authors Guild and the US Society of Authors have created online open letters to Internet Archive about the unlicensed lending of scanned books. Canada’s authors are encouraged to join these campaigns here and here.
Stop eBook Piracy
A Canada-based website currently named ebook.bike is among the more prominent examples of ebook piracy, posting ebooks without author or publisher consent.
While piracy of this nature is not new, it doesn’t change the fact Canadian creators and publishers invest considerable time, resources and effort to bring these stories to life and that they have not consented to this use of their work(s). Blatant disregard for copyright under the guise of creating awareness or access to content is unethical and illegal. Learn more about this issue, and take action if your books are affected.