Thank you, Mr. Chair, mesdames et messieurs, members of the committee.
I'll begin by explaining what Access Copyright does. In order to do so, I invite you to reflect for a second on just one image.
Here I have a copy of a page from a story by children's author, Alan Cumyn. All it is is words on paper: words and paper. In what does the value reside? Of course, the value resides in the organization of the thoughts and ideas on the page; that is, in the words. So when we photocopy, when we reproduce, when we display, or when we post it for others to use, we are reproducing the words, not the page or medium that merely conveys the words.
Access Copyright captures the value of these reproductions and redistributes it to creators and publishers who have invested their creativity, sweat, and capital to produce words on paper.
Reforms to the Copyright Act in 1988 and 1997 brought in collective societies like ours to manage parts of Canada's copyright regime. We have counterparts in every developed and many developing countries around the world.
Every year, Canada's education sector alone reproduces more than half a billion pages of text for use in classrooms. That's equivalent to three million books, books unsold, but whose words are valued enough to be copied. This is not about the child who copies a poem to memorize. This is about mass, industrial-scale copying of texts as educational resources. Mass copying that occurs one page at a time, one chapter at a time.
Across Canada, the education sector, and others, negotiate licences with Access Copyright for these very purposes. This ensures that rights owners are compensated when their works are copied instead of being purchased.
For centuries, this has been the purpose copyright has served: protect the value invested in the words and images that convey the ideas that drive our culture and civilization forward.
Perhaps it was unintended, but Bill C-32 turns this principle on its head. It does so with the introduction of a raft of new exceptions, exceptions that say users will continue to pay for the paper, the iPod, the iPad, but the words shall be theirs for free.
Today I'm going to walk you through provisions that demonstrate the true consequences of Bill C-32, that is, the stripping of revenues from Canada's creative industries and redistribution of them as subsidies to the education sector. That is done in the name of fairness. The word “fair”, like a fig leaf, appears to hide an embarrassing reality.
I have wrestled to understand the public policy rationale behind these changes.
I have wrestled to understand the public policy rationale in Bill C-32 for cutting off existing compensation from the education sector to creators and publishers for the use of copyright protected works in tests and exams, uses that are covered today under collective licences.
I have wrestled to understand the public policy rationale for cutting off existing compensation for the display in the classroom of copyright protected works, once again, uses that are covered today under collective licences. These are licences that generate a return on investment that keeps Canada's creators and publishers thriving as partners in the development of Canadian resources for Canadian students.
And I have wrestled to understand the public policy rationale for adding education to the so-called fair dealing exemption. Make no mistake, this is a misnomer: when dealing or use is considered fair dealing, it is not paid for. Fair dealing is free dealing.
Am I wrong or is this an unintended consequence of Bill C-32? Are the education exemptions a subsidy? Half a billion pages are paid for today. How many millions will be free tomorrow?
The government's background paper says this provision will “reduce administrative and financial costs”. As written, the exception is a hole through which many trucks will pass: everything will become education.
The Canadian Federation of Students understands that. They are cheering. The Council of Ministers of Education understands that. They, with the notable exception of the Quebec ministry of education, hope to bring us to the Supreme Court, because they believe that “most, if not all, photocopying in schools is fair dealing”.
“Fair” does not ensure that creators and publishers will be treated fairly. To me it looks like a fig leaf for expropriation without compensation.
You may have seen this. Four hundred of Canada's world-celebrated writers have signed this letter of protest, which was published a couple of days ago in The Globe and Mail.
If these consequences are unintended, please make it clear in the legislation. Fix it now and spare us decades in the courts.
I will be pleased to take your questions.