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Copyright changes in Canada 'a disaster' which may spread

16 October 2017

New copyright law in Canada has been described as a disaster that can spread, with dire effects for authors and publishers alike. Considerable concern was expressed in a panel at the Frankfurt Book FairWorld's largest trade fair for books; held annually mid-October at Frankfurt Trade Fair, Germany; First three days exclusively for trade visitors; general public can attend last two. about the effect of the changes to the law, the consequences of which are already apparent.

‘The royalties that have traditionally come from our Canadian sister organisations have fallen like a stone since the 2012 Copyright Modernization Act,' acknowledged Copyright Clearance Center's Michael Healy. But, extraordinarily, ‘what has become the norm in Canada' had been ‘an exemplar' for other governments around the world. That example, Healy said, when it comes to educational use, was ‘copy as much as you like, and to hell with the creator'.

Canadian publisher Glenn Rollans, president of the Association of Canadian Publishers

Brisk and informative site offering tips on how to get published, information on Canadian publishing and a media list for self-publishers.

, said that this has meant that educational institutions now claimed for free the same material for which they had previously paid licence fees, which has blown a $50 million hole in publishers' revenues. Perhaps more alarming, he added, was that the law had created a ‘free use zone, rather than a fair use zone' for educational institutions.

There are signs of this approach spreading to other countries, with disastrous effects for authors and publishers of educational books. To allow free use on this scale means that the economics of publishing do not work and ultimately authors lose out because they will not receive any income from their work. In the case of educational materials, publishers will not commission work unless they can successfully publish and sell it.

Apart from having a disastrous effect on educational publishers, this also strikes at the heart of the creative economy - which requires that creators, in this case authors - should be paid for their work.