Only weeks after the launch of the anticipated five-year review of Canada’s 2012 Copyright Modernization Act, all the school boards in Ontario and the ministries of education for all Canadian provinces except British Columbia and Québec have filed a lawsuit against English-language Canada’s copyright collection agency, Access Copyright.
A parallel filing from British Columbia is forthcoming. Québec has its own copyright collection agency, Copibec.
What makes this moment intriguing in the long-running debate about Canada’s Copyright Modernization Act is that we’re looking at the provincial educational institutions of the country resisting Ottawa’s federal, nationwide copyright recognition.
The core issue involves what the Canadian and international publishing industries see as a deeply damaging expansion of “fair dealing” copyright compensation (called “fair use” in some cultures). As we’ve reported earlier, vague and imprecise language in the Copyright Modernization Act has resulted in universities setting their own fair-dealing guidelines, eventually creating patterns of usage which other educational institutions, including K–12 schools, have then adopted. In many cases, they have copied and distributed material to students without a publisher’s permission and without paying a licensing fee or tariff.
Canadian publishers have estimated they’re losing more than $50 million annually in copyright revenue.