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.
Be Part of the Change!
As you know, the literary community has been lobbying for 10 years for copyright law reform, redressing the harm created by the “educational purposes” fair dealing exception created in 2012. This spring, writers and publishers received the following hopeful sign, a promise contained in the federal government’s Budget Commitment of April 7, 2022: “to ensur[e] that the Copyright Act protects all creators and copyright holders … and [to] work to ensure a sustainable educational publishing industry, including fair remuneration for creators and copyright holders, as well as a modern and innovative marketplace that can efficiently serve copyright users.”
Since then, nothing has happened.
With Parliament now back for its fall session, it’s critical that the 2022 federal budget commitment to fix the Copyright Act be top of mind as the government identifies its key priorities for the coming months.
Make no mistake, its promise to restore fair compensation to creators and publishers as part of a sustainable educational publishing marketplace is an important step forward. But the government has yet to announce any plans to implement this commitment. That’s why the government needs to understand we are counting on them to do so as soon as possible. After a decade of harm, creators and publishers can’t wait any longer to be fairly paid for the educational copying of their work.
On Thursday, October 6, a coalition of writer and publisher organizations will be launching a Day of Action to say loudly and clearly:
It’s time to fix the Copyright Act.
We need as many as possible to take part on October 6th. Please visit the I Value Canadian Stories website that day to send a letter to Minister Champagne, and also join the conversation on social media. To help fuel this effort, please forward this initiative to your network and urge them to take action and add their voice.
On October 6, visit the I Value Canadian Stories website. The website will have easy-to-use, built-in tools to:
- SEND A LETTER: Enter your name and email address to send a letter to Minister Champagne urging them to take immediate action to fix Canada’s Copyright Act.
- SPREAD THE WORD: Join the conversation by sharing a message on social media to further press the federal government to support Canadian creators and publishers and/or to encourage others to send a letter too.
Your actions on October 6 to make your voice heard will make sure that the federal government hears loud and clear that Canada’s creator and publisher community are collectively holding them accountable to their commitment.
Everyone – writers, publishers, educators, students, users of all stripes – want the same thing: a sustainable Canadian literary community. We need to work now to ensure sustainability for the future.
Be part of the change! Take part on the October 6th Day of Action and spread the word.
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” Update
CAA Continues to Support Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Against Internet Archive
As you may be aware, Canadian Authors Association has been supportive of the copyright infringement lawsuit brought on by four large U.S. publishers against Internet Archive, based on its Open Library’s “controlled digital lending.” We signed the U.S. National Writers’ Union’s “FAQ on Controlled Digital Lending” and are now also joining writers’ groups around the world as signatories on an amicus being filed in Hachette Book Group et al v. Internet Archive by the U.S. The Authors Guild.
The plaintiff publishers assert in the lawsuit that Internet Archive (“IA”) which operates Open Library has created a vast unauthorized online database of literary works that anyone in the world can access free of charge, differing “from the most flagrantly illegal pirate websites chiefly by reason of its enormous scale.” IA claims it is merely a library, “loaning books” to its patrons by means of a process it refers to as controlled digital lending, or CDL. It says its process falls under “the doctrine of fair use,” which is similar to the Canadian fair dealing exceptions. In fact, say the plaintiffs, the process is neither controlled, nor limited to lending, and falls outside fair dealing.
Like many superior courts, the US District Court allows a party other than the plaintiffs and defendants to file memoranda of law as “amicus curiae” – a friend of the court. In Canada, we often call such parties, who must disclose their demonstrated interest in the outcome of the case, interveners. In the publishers’ lawsuit against IA, CAA joins as a signatory to a brief filed by a New York based firm which explains that all signatories are amici curiae by reason of being “organizations that represent the professional interests of writers and other creators.”
The well-written brief opens with a bang.
“If Open Library’s practices are found legal, any website calling itself a library could digitize [copyright-protected works and allow users to download them]. This will gut copyright law …”
The brief goes on to detail why the IA Open Library does not fall within the fair use doctrine. Its digitization and distribution are not transformative. Instead, it “uses the literary works in their entirety for their original intended purpose, merely providing a free substitute for authorized ebook lending.”
The brief explains why this practice causes harms to the Amici’s members. “Many members’ works are part of the ‘long tail’ of older published works that earn much of their revenue from licensed electronic uses rather than sales of new [hard] copies.” A notional consumer would most likely rather download a free copy of an ebook than a licensed copy with a price tag, and therefore free downloads deprive their authors of profits from legitimate ebook sales. IA defends its practice saying most of the digitized books are out of print. This argument is reprehensible not only because out of print does not mean no longer copyright-protected, but also because increasingly, many authors rely on ebook sales of their out of print books for their livelihood. The brief gives a detailed explanation and examples of such reliance.
Furthermore, the brief explains that if IA’s practice is found to be legal, then legitimate libraries with their limited budgets will be likely to access IA free copies and no longer seek legitimate licenses from publishers or directly from authors. The IA’s “so-called lending” is “a Trojan horse” that “poses a grave threat to the livelihoods of countless individual copyright owners who are member of Amici,” says the brief. “IA is robbing authors of their right to separately license the rights …created for them [by law].”
Finally, the brief explains that although the public lending right is not law in the US – as it is here in Canada – many Amici members derive a significant portion of their annual income from governments as compensation for the free library lending of their books. “PLR payments make a real difference in authors’ lives.”
The brief concludes: “Authors .. and other creators of books make a vital contribution to education, to literacy, and to the shared culture on which our society rests. Impoverishing authors threatens to impoverish that culture.”
We will continue to report on developments in this important US-based lawsuit.
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.