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.
Respond to the latest government survey on generative AI and authorship
Did you know that the “shadow libraries” accessed by ChatGPT and other generative AI tools contain literary works still protected by copyright? And that many of the books digested to train the AI tools were written by authors who are still alive? This practice amounts to copyright infringement, and Canadian Authors Association is vehemently opposed to it.
CAA will formally respond to the recent federal government consultation on generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) as an organization representing creators. Individual creators like YOU are also invited to respond.
The more frequently and loudly we voice our concerns – that generative AI infringes upon our copyright by digesting our works without permission or payment – the more clearly the federal government will hear our viewpoint and legislate against the infringing practice.
Here are the web links to the information regarding the Government of Canada’s consultation process:
- News Release: https://www.canada.ca/en/innovation-science-economic-development/news/2023/10/government-of-canada-launches-consultation-on-the-implications-of-generative-artificial-intelligence-for-copyright.html
- Link to Survey: https://ised-isde.survey-sondage.ca/f/s.aspx?s=a9fe1f22-76dd-44b4-97f9-2318115d14be
The response format is relatively user-friendly: a survey requesting input. We strongly recommend you read the consultation paper before completing your response. We urge you to respond to the survey and also, consider providing us with your responses so we can sense our membership’s views. You could send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for lending your time and voice to this vitally important initiative. The response deadline is December 4, 2023.
Advocacy Aphorism Contest
Announcing the Winner of the CAA Advocacy Aphorism Contest
To advance our cause of advocating for writer rights and to recognize the ongoing struggle for Copyright Act reform—yet in the spirit of summer fun—we ran an aphorism contest. The prizes for the winning submission include a CAA-branded mug, a surprise book by a CAA author, plus the invaluable gift of publicity!
Thanks to the many of you who submitted dozens of aphorism entries to our summer contest. We’re pleased to announce the following winner and aphorism:
“Even the esteemed LM Montgomery had five long costly lawsuits beginning in 1917. Isn’t it time to end the Hundred Years‘ War?”
Louise Rachlis, CAA Member
And Congratulations to our honorary mention:
“Oh, to write something worth stealing.”
Dick Bourgeois-Doyle, CAA Member
Thanks to all those who completed the 2023 federal government budget questionnaire
Each year, the federal government invites the Canadian public to express its priorities for the upcoming federal budget through a short questionnaire. It asks: What challenges do you see ahead of us? What should the government be focused on? What great ideas do you have? The Advocacy Committee saw this as an opportunity for the community of authors to make our voices heard and to let the government know that we will not forget its promise to fix the Copyright Act. We asked you to complete the questionnaire with suggested text alerting the government to urgent copyright issues.
Many of you joined CAA, TWUC, and other writers and organizations in responding to the budget questionnaire circulated in February 2023. You let the government know that it’s time to restore fairness to marketplace regulations and that creators should be compensated fairly for their work. We are grateful you responded, and appreciate all you do to ensure our law-makers are well-informed about copyright and well understand the dire situation of creators and creator collectives.
Be Part of the Fix!
The Day of Action has passed, but writers can keep sending letters using the template on the I Value Canadian Stories website at https://www.ivaluecanadianstories.ca/creators.php.
Day of Action: Tuesday, November 29
On November 29, the I Value Canadian Stories coalition will be asking you to visit its website to send a letter to Innovation, Science and Industry Minister Champagne to urge him to keep his government’s promise to fix the Copyright Act.
For ten years and counting, Canadian creators and publishers have been waiting to be paid when their works are copied by educational institutions outside of Quebec.
For seven months and counting, Canadian creators and publishers have been waiting for the government to fulfil its commitment in the April 2022 federal budget to fix the Copyright Act to protect creators and copyright holders.
We can’t wait any longer.
The more letters sent on November 29, the louder the message will be that further delay is not an option.
Stay tuned for an email on November 29 with a link to a letter writing tool on the I Value Canadian Stories website.
If you do just one thing on November 29, please be sure it is to send your letter to Minister Champagne.
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.
CAA applauds Amazon decision, and urges Audible to follow suit
Canadian Authors Association applauds the efforts of its sister organization, US-based The Authors Guild, in its advocacy discussions with Amazon. The Authors Guild has been pressing Amazon to change its e-book return policy that permits readers to “return” their purchases, no matter how much they had read, within seven days of purchase.
Not surprisingly, that policy had led to abuse by readers, and the consequential reversal of Amazon royalty payments to authors. In response to pressure, Amazon recently announced that it is making technical changes so that the return policy will be in effect only where no more than 10 percent of an e-book has been read. Whether that promise will be fulfilled remains to be seen Here’s a link to the Authors Guild posting: https://authorsguild.org/news/amazon-changing-ebook-return-policy/.
Meanwhile, we hope Audible becomes more responsive to authors rights as well. As a member of The Authors Guild’s Audiblegate initiative — dubbed Authors v. Audible “The War of Words” — CAA has added its voice urging Audible, purveyor of audio books, to fairly pay authors for the use of their works and to be fully transparent regarding how it deducts writer royalties when fully read titles are returned. For more information, please see the Audiblegate website: https://www.audiblegate.com/.
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.