External Affairs – Help make copyright law work for writers
The federal government tabled the copyright reform bill, C-11, yesterday in the House of Commons. It has exactly the same wording as the draft that died on the order paper with the spring election. Those of you who have been following this saga will know that, while we agree with the stated objectives of the proposed law, there are problems for writers, especially in the area of exceptions under Fair Dealing. The thorniest one for PWAC and at least six of our sister organizations is the exception for education in this section of the bill. Because it adds the word…”education”…without clarifying what this means. A majority of provincial ministries of education have been seeking this addition for a number of years because if they get it they can drive a truck through it. And they’ll be driving right through your intellectual property, without asking. Because! this gives the omnipresent bean counters in the bureaucracies around education an opportunity to escape their responsibility to compensate Canadian writers when their works are copied for use in the post-secondary education sector. The costs they are evading, that they have paid for in an orderly fashion for decades through our collective rights administration represent less than 1 % of their total budgets. Yet the original expression of ideas as contained in copyright works is (or ought to be) the very basis of education.
So we are reaching out to PWAC members to take the time to make a request to the government through your members of parliament to be open to the idea of accepting amendments to bill C-11 to make it stronger and to help build the digital economy through the industry and entrepreneurial spirit of thousands of small Canadian businesspeople, that is Freelance writers.
If you can steal the time from making a living the most effective way to help make this happen is through a letter to your MP in your own words. The points you need to make are:
- The addition of the internationally respected Berne three-step test to the bill will help to avoid confusion and diminish the likelihood of court case
- The responsibility to make a law that compensates writers fairly should not be left to the courts
It should be easy to find the e-mail address of your MP. Please cc. us at
firstname.lastname@example.org when you reach out to them that way. If you have time to put pen to paper, that’s even better. You still don’t need a stamp to write your member in Ottawa.
Professional Writers Association of Canada