As a Canadian author, you can take action to protect your rights and those of your fellow creators! Here are some things you can do today.
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 almost 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.
The April 2020 Federal Court of Appeal decision, the mandatory copyright review process reports, and what you can do now – Part 3
This spring, we alerted you to Canada’s further fractured copyright system, and urged you to help fix it. This fall, we updated you with latest developments in Part 2. Now we provide a further update, Part 3, on this same topic.
As you will recall, both Access Copyright and York University appealed the April 2020 decision of the Federal Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. 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.
Although the SCC does not automatically accept all appeals, it did recently grant leave to appeal. That means it agreed to hear the appeal. This is good news; there is still hope that the FCA ruling that tariffs are not mandatory could be over-ruled.
Yet, uncertainty remains because no one can predict authoritatively how the SCC will decide. And even in a best-case scenario, in which the SCC rules in favour of Access Copyright, such a ruling would be years away.
But there is another route—legislative reform by Parliament.
Here’s an excerpt from a blog by Hugh Stephens that clearly explains this opportunity:
Parliament will have [an occasion to clarify the law on the mandatory nature of Copyright Act tariffs] this fall when it resumes after the Throne Speech in late September … Legislation is required to amend the Copyright Act to bring it into compliance with Canada’s commitments under the new NAFTA (aka USMCA, or CUSMA in Canada). Canada made a commitment to extend the term of copyright protection by twenty years and has 30 months from the date of implementation of the Agreement, July 1, 2020, to bring its legislation into compliance. … That process will require a period of public consultation which is why it is important that the draft legislation be introduced at an early date. This affords an opportunity to address other urgent copyright issues at the same time, using the same committee process.
The first of these is to fix the anomalies in the Act that have led to the FCA decision that undermines the mandatory tariff regime, affecting not just Access Copyright but most collective rights management organizations in the country. The amendments would be minor, but they would rectify the damage done by the FCA’s decision and restore some order and predictability to the licensing of content in Canada through collective societies.
The blog can be read in full here: https://hughstephensblog.net/2020/09/08/undoing-the-damage-of-the-federal-court-of-appeals-decision-on-mandatory-tariffs/
It is critical to make all MPs aware of the creators’ perspective in these complex issues.
And so once again, we urge you to write your MPs, cc’ing the federal Ministers responsible for copyright legislation, and 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 is a link to our updated template letter.
To find your MP, enter your postal code on the webpage at this link: https://www.ourcommons.ca/Members/en/search
As you will recall, 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
- The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry: email@example.com
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. Otherwise we may well have to wait either until the Supreme Court of Canada rules on the Access v. York case, or until the next mandatory Copyright Act review, which is not due until 2022.
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.
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.