Thank you, Madam Chair.
My name is Mark Schaan and I am the director general of the marketplace framework policy branch, at the Department of Industry. It is a pleasure to be here today to give you an overview of an important element of Canada's intellectual property framework: the Copyright Act. Ms. Théberge and I have prepared a brief joint presentation.
The Copyright Act is one of our four main intellectual property acts. The main purpose of the Copyright Act is to encourage innovation and creativity for the benefit of all of society. It does this by creating a bundle of rights and establishing exceptions and limitations to these rights.
The Copyright Act provides an incentive for creators to create by ensuring that they will be able to tap into opportunities for their creations in the marketplace. This in turn gives the public access to new creative works.
Intellectual property laws, especially copyright, are considered foundational marketplace framework laws. They provide the rules of the game for businesses and consumers. The Copyright Act is a legislative instrument of general application. Like any law of general application, it must be amended with caution, given the importance of predictability and stability for all market players. The act reflects a complex balancing of various interests and public policy objectives and is increasingly key in facilitating global commerce.
I will now go through the main elements of the Copyright Act.
Copyright protects four broad categories of original works: literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic. This includes books and magazines, audiovisual productions, music, paintings, photographs, architectural drawings, and software.
A fundamental principle of copyright is that copyright only protects the expression of an idea, not the idea itself. For example, an idea for a story would not be subject to copyright protection, but the expression of the idea in the form of a written story would be.
Copyright arises automatically upon creation of an original work that has been fixed in a material form. This approach was adopted internationally so that artists would not have to register their work around the world to benefit from the fruits of their creative effort.
Overall, the act gives creators the right to control or be paid for the use and dissemination of their works, but these rights have a limited term of protection. The general term of copyright protection in Canada is the author's life plus 50 years. Different term limits apply in certain cases, such as for sound recordings, which are protected for 70 years from the date of publication. Once copyright expires, the works enter the public domain and can be used without payment or consent.
In general, the act grants the copyright holder the exclusive right to reproduce, represent or communicate the work to the public. Doing any one of these things without the copyright holder's consent constitutes infringement.
In certain specific cases, the act also grants rights that are not exclusive, such as the right to remuneration for recording artists and music labels when their sound recordings are played on the radio.
Copyrights are not absolute and are bounded by limitations and a number of exceptions outlined in the act. For example, there's a variety of exceptions for consumers, including for format shifting, recording programs for later viewing, backup copies, and non-commercial user-generated content. There are also a number of exceptions for innovation, notably to enable activities related to reverse engineering for software interoperability, security testing, and encryption research.
Along with the economic rights that I have described, the Copyright Act also confers moral rights. Moral rights protect the integrity of works and the author's right to be associated with them or not. Unlike economic rights, moral rights cannot be assigned, but they can be waived.
The review you are taking part in is the first under the current section 92 of the Copyright Act. This provision was enacted by Parliament in 2012 as part of the last round of comprehensive reform of the act. It calls for a committee of Parliament to review the act every five years.
This provision was enacted to ensure that technology does not outpace the act and to provide a transparent forum for the interested parties to present their concerns regarding the act.
Regarding new technologies, it is important to note that there is already some degree of adaptability built into the copyright framework.
First, the courts have interpreted the act in accordance with the principle of technological neutrality, which allows copyright to evolve jurisprudentially in the absence of changes to the act. Second, copyright can be divided, licensed, or assigned by contracts. This allows parties to define and agree on various terms, conditions, and uses, thereby providing a good measure of flexibility with respect to copyright as new platforms, media, and consumer habits arise.
Canada has a modern and robust copyright framework, generally allowing for a functional marketplace. Yet, given the complexity of copyright policy and how it affects diverse economic actors, often with opposing interests, it is one of the most debated pieces of legislation and there is no shortage of reform proposals to amend it in one way or another. This is why it is important to hear a diversity of viewpoints to ensure our Copyright Act functions as optimally as it can and delivers benefits for all Canadians.
Copyright legislation is a federal responsibility under our Constitution. In recognition that it is both a marketplace framework law and a cultural policy tool, copyright policy responsibility is shared between the ministers of and . Each department has a dedicated team responsible for advising the government on copyright policy. The two departments work together to develop policy options for government's consideration.
There are other organizations that play key roles in the overall legislative framework for copyright. The Copyright Board of Canada is an arms-length quasi-judicial tribunal. It establishes royalty tariffs for the use of certain collectively managed copyrighted works, acts as a neutral arbitrator of individual licences upon request of parties, and issues licences for works for which the copyright owner cannot be known or found, which are also known as “orphan works”.
There is also the Canadian Intellectual Property Office, which is responsible for registering copyrights, assignments of copyright, and licences. While it is not necessary to register a copyright to obtain legal protection, doing so provides some benefits to the owner in the event of a dispute. It also provides notice to others who may wish to use the work or avoid infringing it.
Canadian courts are another important actor in the legislative framework. They resolve disputes by determining whether infringement has occurred and awarding just remedies to copyright owners when infringement has occurred. Courts can also issue injunctions to prevent or stop infringement. Court decisions play a role in determining how the provisions of the act are interpreted and applied. Canada's Supreme Court has been particularly active on copyright over the past 15 years, releasing numerous important decisions since 2002.
By nature, copyright law is territorial, but it is also governed by an international multilateral system of treaties and agreements that establish minimum standards of protection. This way, authors and creators from one country can easily obtain copyright protection in other countries. This system supports Canadian creators and encourages creative works from other countries to be offered in the Canadian marketplace, providing greater choice for Canadian consumers.
The relevant international agreements that Canada is party to include the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights and numerous copyrights treaties administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization, or WIPO, such as the Berne and Rome conventions and the Internet treaties. One of the minimum standards of these agreements is to provide a general term of copyright protection of at least the lifetime of the author plus 50 years.
The last major WIPO copyright treaty that Canada joined was in 2016 when Canada implemented the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled. In fact, Canada was the first G-7 country to implement the treaty, and the essential 20th country to join the treaty, the total needed to bring it into force internationally.
Copyright is also frequently part of multilateral and bilateral trade negotiations, including the ongoing NAFTA negotiations. These agreements may commit signing countries to minimum copyright standards. Some of these may go beyond multilateral standards. The Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement was the last agreement with copyright provisions that Canada implemented.
The recently signed comprehensive and progressive agreement for trans-Pacific partnership also contains copyright provisions.
The Copyright Act is perhaps the widest ranging of all our intellectual property laws, impacting most Canadians every day.
But as we look ahead beyond the horizon, users are increasingly able to become creators themselves. New technologies related to the fourth industrial revolution such as artificial intelligence, 3D printing, the Internet of Things, and augmented and virtual reality are also going to interact with copyright. And just as the digital technologies of the 2000s were disruptive to many copyright-based industries, these emerging technologies can also be expected to challenge current legal frameworks and business practices.
If I could just touch on one last thing, it would be that we continue to witness a significant use of copyright in Canada. Some copyright stakeholders have been particularly affected by chronic disruption and are facing market challenges, yet Canadians appear to remain avid consumers of copyrighted content.
A public opinion research survey we recently commissioned found that 80% of Internet users in Canada consumed digital content online over the three-month period ending November 2017. In the same period, Canadians reported spending $5.4 billion on copyrighted content, including digital content, physical purchases, and tickets to live performances and movies. The survey also found that the large majority of digital content consumed was consumed legally. About a quarter of content consumers reported consuming at least one file online illegally, and a small percentage, 5% to be precise, reported consuming content online only from illegal sources. I think this gives us some base for consideration.
Madam Chair, I would like to turn it over to my colleague, Ms. Théberge, who will continue the presentation.
I am happy to be here today to speak to you about the importance of copyright as a policy tool to promote creativity and innovation. In fact, more than ever, copyright and the opportunities for remuneration that it provides creators and creative industries is a central driver of development and prosperity in advanced economies such as Canada's.
Here are a few numbers: the creative sector creates 630,000 jobs in Canada and contributes $54.6 billion per year in economic activity. This includes $7 billion in film and television production; a $561-million sound recording and music publishing industry that provides 11,000 jobs; a $1.15-billion book industry that provides 13,845 jobs; and a video game industry with 472 development studios. Canada is also at the forefront of a rapidly growing virtual and augmented reality sector.
The most recent reform of the Copyright Act dates back to 2012. Parliament passed the Copyright Modernization Act, or CMA, following extensive national consultations. The key objectives of the CMA were to modernize the act in response to changes brought on by the emergence and prevalence of digital technologies; to ensure that the act was forward looking, flexible and adaptable for a constantly evolving technological environment; and to bring it into line with international standards.
To do this, the CMA introduced new rights and protections for creators and rights holders, as well as tools to protect their investments and to support the creation of new online business models. Technological protection measures, or TPMs, are one of the tools that rights holders can use to control or restrict access to their protected works—through passwords, subscriptions, etc.—or to prevent copying, through download or copy blocking, etc.. These measures have positively contributed to online business models for the video game and software industries.
Still in 2012, a number of new provisions were introduced to improve digital access to copyrighted materials, along with clear rules on how to legally use these materials. This included new consumer exceptions, new purposes under fair dealing, notably for education, parody and satire, new and updated exceptions for educational institutions, libraries, museums, and archives, and exceptions to use legitimately acquired materials for the creation of non-commercial, online user-generated content.
The CMA also addressed the liability of new players in the online space, such as Internet Service Providers, or ISPs, digital storage devices, website hosts, or search engines such as Google and Bing, and other digital intermediaries, such as Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and so on. It clarified that these digital intermediaries are not responsible for infringing activity carried out by people using their services or products, as long as they are acting as neutral providers of communication, hosting, caching, and search services or products. At the same time, it offered the ability to take action against those that intentionally enable copyright infringement. One such example is the 2015 injunction obtained by the Motion Picture Association of America against the Canadian programmers of Popcorn Time, a website that allowed for the dissemination of free online content. As part of these changes, ISPs were also mandated to help curb infringement on their networks by participating in a voluntary notice regime.
Since 2015, the Copyright Act has of course continued to evolve in response to regulatory changes and our international obligations.
Mr. Schaan already mentioned two important initiatives: the intellectual property strategy and the reform of the Copyright Board, the impact of which is essential for the economic growth of a number of creative industries, notably the music and education sectors. Budget 2017 also announced a review of the Broadcasting Act and the Telecommunications Act.
In September 2017, the creative Canada policy framework was launched by Minister after consulting stakeholders on how to strengthen the creation, discovery and export of Canadian content in a digital world.
Over 30,000 Canadians, including creators and cultural entrepreneurs, took part in the discussion. Creative Canada proposed the government's vision and approach to supporting and growing Canada's creative industries by strengthening existing cultural policy tools, setting a path to renew the ones that require updating, and introducing new initiatives to help creators and creative industries thrive in a global digital marketplace.
The impact of the digital transformation is different from industry to industry. Through the emergence of new distributors, new technologies have not only shifted how money is made but also who benefits and how those benefits flow through to creators and rights holders.
In the music industry, the shift to streaming is a significant change that engages rights in a manner different from when music was consumed via albums or downloading. Relying on complex licensing structures, new services are providing consumers with access to a near infinite catalogue for a set regular fee. Through these services the volume of accessible content has skyrocketed, and increased competition has created a “winner takes all” environment, where although significantly more content is available and consumed, the benefits are concentrated among few. Where value used to be in the creation of an album, it now lies in the individual songs, resulting in an increased focus on acquiring the largest, most valuable catalogue of music. It is interesting to note that from 2010 to 2015, overall revenues from sound recordings in the Canadian music industry remained relatively stable, in large part due to the increase in streaming revenues.
A similar shift toward online streaming, including legal and illegal services, is just one pressure facing the Canadian audiovisual industry. User-generated content has already greatly increased the volume of content that is available to consumers for free.
Of course these issues are not unique to Canada. Digital intermediaries, like on-demand content providers and user-generated content platforms, are increasingly important in the creator-to-consumer value chain for creative content in Canada and abroad. As such, many countries are considering how to address this in terms of liabilities and responsibilities with respect to copyright.
Many are also coming to terms with the fact that copyright legislation is not always the only or the best solution. Issues like the integrity of content metadata, better tracking of copyright activity, simpler licensing practices, and the crucial importance of transparency for all players in the system may indeed not require changes to the legislative framework.
Several stakeholders are already taking advantage of technologies to develop new ways of managing their copyright. Innovations such as application programming interface, blockchain, and smart contracts offer opportunities for more transparency, better rights clearance, and more business potential. Such a technology focus may be the best way to discover common ground among stakeholders.
Going back briefly to the music industry for example, some stakeholders have started using artificial intelligence and cloud-based technologies to capture better data and develop a digital marketplace that improves the ease and accuracy of compensating rights holders. They are also exploring the use of blockchain technologies to streamline licensing and rights management. These are two examples of non-legislative, market- and stakeholder-driven initiatives aimed at simplifying rights management in support of facilitating remuneration.
In short, to fully understand creator remuneration today, one must broaden the scope of investigation and look beyond the law and what the marketplace is doing by itself and consider how to incentivize collaboration among those who benefit and contribute to creator remuneration and nudge innovative thinking.
Before I conclude, I want to reiterate that the work of this committee presents an opportunity to consider the needs and interests of indigenous people, particularly as they relate to traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions. Many have argued that the current legal framework is not well suited to addressing some of the key concerns of indigenous communities with respect to the protection of their cultures. Canadian Heritage and its portfolio organizations are active in various processes under way to understand and implement commitments under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which refers specifically to intellectual property.
Canada has also been working actively with international partners under the auspices of the World Intellectual Property Organization, WIPO, to look at the feasibility of developing international norms for the protection of traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions. This work is particularly complicated, as the fundamental underpinnings of intellectual property often do not match the particular characteristics of indigenous traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions, which are generally intangible and collectively owned.
Thank you for your attention. I hope the information we have provided will be useful to you in your study.
Mr. Schaan and I will be happy to answer your questions.
The Copyright Board is embedded in the act and has, arguably, four sets of tariffs that it sets through a tariff-setting process to set a value for copyrighted material.
There are those who are forced by obligation of the law to participate in a tariff-setting process. Those are Re:Sound and SOCAN.
There is an optional regime for other collectives, particularly those collectives that form around the distribution of a wide catalogue of copyrighted material. These are Copibec and Access Copyright in the educational spaces, as well as others.
There's a mechanical right, and then there's the private copying regime, which is for blank CDs.
The Copyright Board has a set of processes that are established in the act that essentially has people set out what they believe to be a tariff. People can then oppose that tariff. Then the Copyright Board goes to consolidate that process and determines whether a hearing is required. Over time, it hears witnesses and ultimately issues a decision.
There has been long-standing consensus among stakeholders and Parliament that the Copyright Board requires priority consideration. As a function of that, the government held technical consultations last August and September, with the intention of implementing reform in a timely manner.
Right now, we're in the midst of finalizing the review of the 60 submissions we received, to look at ways to expedite and create efficiency across the Copyright Board's tariff-setting process, in part because, right now, it can take as much as six to seven years to set a tariff. In the case of rapidly changing technologies.... For instance, the one that always gets raised is the Internet streaming case. It was a very long time, and the tariff started with some players in existence in Canada and ended with some of those players no longer here.
The goal of the Copyright Board reform is really to look at that process and try to ensure we get back to efficiency.
I don't know if you want to add to that.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thanks to everyone for their presentations.
By way of introduction, let me give you a quick editorial on the review of the Copyright Act by the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.
Our basic objective is, as a minimum, to take a favourable approach to copyright. As a result, our job is not to offer a bargain to consumers, but to ensure that Canadian, Quebec and aboriginal cultures continue to flourish.
We must remember that our primary objective is to safeguard copyright. Let me share an anecdote with you. Maybe you know the exact amount, but I think it’s important to mention the numbers associated with the success of Happy by Pharrell Williams. By the way, that song is part of the catalogue that was just acquired by Sony from EMI—it was reported in the news this morning. Copyright and dissemination rights on streaming services have earned Pharrell Williams something like $60,000 or, let’s say, $200,000 at most. But while Happy is a huge international hit, much bigger than Goodbye Yellow Brick Road by Elton John, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road has earned 100 times more.
What I am getting at is that creators now earn micro-pennies on streaming services. We have a great responsibility as a committee. To be honest, let me say right away that, politically speaking, this issue is like a glass full of gravel, a mouthful of sand. It is very dry and very complex. The public does not understand much about these issues. Moreover, there are not a lot of political gains to be had.
This is the right thing to do.
But doing it will be difficult.
In that context, can you illustrate the hot issues you told us about earlier? You said that the only hot issue that everyone agrees on is the Copyright Board of Canada.
I will start there, but, if possible, could you send us, ideally in writing, a list of the hot issues? Personally, I have been interested in this issue for a long time and I am familiar with it. But even I find it a hornet's nest. A series of issues is involved and they seem very theoretical to us. That is why I wanted to tell you the Pharrell Williams story because it gives you an idea of the extent to which things have changed.
Through you, Madam Chair, I would like to ask Ms. Théberge to send us a list of hot issues.
It depends on the way in which you define hot issues. The definition will clearly change depending on the point of view of the person involved in them.
When I mentioned the Copyright Board of Canada, I said that it seemed to be one of the rare issues where views seem to converge at a macro level. But the moment we get into detail on the way in which we should make the Board more effective and transparent, opinions diverge. It truly is a lawyers' world, and extremely technical one.
In terms of the effect of the digital world—which is quite a macro-level issue in itself—there is certainly a convergence, but the perception of the digital effect varies. A particularly interesting feature, one that is sometimes a difficult challenge to overcome, is that categories become confused. Previously, copyright was understood in a relatively binary fashion. There were two teams: creators on one side and users/consumers on the other. In the digital world, it no longer works like that, because creators are also users at the same time.
As soon as music creators began to do sampling, they themselves became users, consumers and re-creators of content. Perception of the copyright ecosystem became a much more complex; at that point, and devising simple solutions is hard to contemplate.
To go back to your first question, we could certainly send you a list of issues that we see as figuring most prominently in our consultations. Some are obvious. Can we call them hot issues? That will depend on how you define it.
I do not know how ambitiously we would jump into that study. But if we asked you to identify 25 issues of your choice, we would choose the priority issue, or you could do it yourselves. But our mandate is to examine the matter from the creative angle in all cases, that is for sure. Creation is not just about someone making pottery on a wheel.
My next question goes to Mr. Schaan.
I was part of the Copyright Act review in 2012, sitting on an ad hoc committee created for the purpose.
I really appreciate the way in which is running his department. I feel the dynamism; I feel that the department wants to work to find solutions to problems at the source. The same goes for technology. We can see it in certain areas, such as the support for technical colleges and electrifying transportation, for example.
So I appreciate your being here. I feel that, for years, the industry department has been missing in action from all the technological challenges that must be faced by the sectors of industry that form part of our Canadian heritage.
Perhaps Canadian Heritage could provide us with this information: from that list, could you help us to determine those issues? Could you point out to us solutions that have been recognized in other countries? After seven years in politics, if I have learned one thing, it is that, when we have to deal with a problem—be it public transit, the environment, or flesh-eating bacteria—we have to try and find out what other countries do when they face similar problems.
We have no monopoly on knowledge; plenty of people are ready to give us solutions.
I want to specifically ask people from the Department of Industry whether, as we look at copyright, we can look at patent protection as well. Is there a link between the two? I feel that, with modern technology, there is indeed a link in terms of intellectual property.
For example, could pharmaceutical companies decide to do less research and development on new products, because copyright and intellectual property rights might be less protected? Is that a parallel we can draw?
I will answer first and then I will hand over to my colleague, Mr. Schaan.
I would say that one of the major challenges is transparency. I have already talked about copyright literacy, the basic knowledge that allows creators and authors to understand what they have to demand when they are signing a contract with a record company, for example. That aspect is absolutely fundamental and goes across all creative sectors.
We could probably make the same observation about consumers and users, that they have to have some knowledge, some angst, and some understanding about the fact that, when they consume a cultural product, they are knocking on the door of copyright. So they have a number of responsibilities in terms of consuming cultural products.
The issue of transparency is also horizontal. The transparency problem is clearly accentuated by the digital world. One of the main challenges, certainly, is the many intermediaries and platforms that take cultural content and launch it back into the sphere of consumption, sometimes transparently, sometimes less so. That is why we must be in a position to have a discussion with those intermediaries and content providers so that creators know, for example, how their content is consumed and monetized, and so that, basically, they are able to make the digital world a tool that works to their advantage more than to their detriment. That is fundamental, especially in music, but also in audiovisual. It is perhaps a little less the case in the world of education.
I would say that those two are particularly critical.
I don't know, Mark, whether you want to add something.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
As was mentioned earlier, it's a very complicated issue. I can remember back to a few universities that I went through, and for every professor you had to buy the newest edition of his book, and you couldn't buy the one from your friend who took the course the previous semester because he had changed three pages in it.
I go now to my grandchildren, who are in university. They never buy a text book. They find everything online. They never buy a textbook anymore because they have sources. My grandchildren never buy any music. Now, my son, on the other hand, has come back and raided my 45s because it was “one and done“ in those days: you had one hit song and you were finished. He's now going through my albums because it's the art he's looking for on the album covers. That's what the resale market, I guess, would be. With this younger generation, they go to find anything they can without paying for it. They believe that's their right. When I talk to them, it's very interesting, their mentality, in the sense of searching for what they can find for free. Whether it's a textbook, whether it's music, whether it's a video game, they go searching to find anything for free.
I've been in China a number of times, where you can buy name-brand stuff on the street for one-tenth of what you can here. Copyright in the digital age, you talked about it here as “adaptability built into” . How is that built in to deal with that mentality?
The Copyright Act already provides mechanisms that allow creators who feel aggrieved to assert their copyrights. It also includes a notice and notice regime that allows Internet service providers to notify individuals when they violate the Copyright Act.
Some countries have taken other approaches. In the United States, they have a notice and take down regime; in Europe, they have a three-strikes rule. The legislation already provides various mechanisms that allow creators to assert their rights.
The way creators are paid nowadays, especially in the music industry, is completely different than it was ten years ago. Live performances, concerts and merchandise, such as t-shirts, change, but do not necessarily replace, revenue generated strictly by copyright royalties.
We are still in a period of change, transformation and transition. Stakeholders often have very strong views on whether the digital shift has had a positive or negative impact. Some of them, especially the younger generations, see a great opportunity for marketing in the digital world. Their choice to share their content on digital platforms is less about collecting royalties, and more about having their work discovered in other markets that they couldn't access 15 years ago, because they didn't have the technology. On the other hand, other artists from older generations do not necessarily see the digital world as an essential marketing environment.
There is no ready-made solution. That is why it is beneficial to have two parliamentary committees studying the Copyright Act.
The whole issue of traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expression is one of particular interest and challenge, for many reasons that I alluded to in my opening remarks, because some of the fundamental characteristics associated with TK, traditional knowledge, and TCEs do not match with the way intellectual property laws function.
For something to be copyrightable, it needs to be fixed and it needs to relate to one author that you can theoretically identify. In the case of the traditional knowledge or traditional cultural expressions of indigenous people or other types of communities, most often you're dealing with things that are not fixed, such as a song, a story, a know-how. That's the first hurdle.
The second hurdle is that it's usually collectively owned: a song belongs to the Abenaki people, assuming you can identify some sort of property around this song, but it doesn't relate to one individual in the Abenaki community.
From the get-go then you have a major challenge when you're trying to use copyright for that purpose.
That being said, there are other tools in the intellectual property tool kit that are still at the disposal of indigenous people, such as patents and trademarks. Often the example that is put forward is the misappropriation of the inukshuk or of the dream catcher.
The protection of traditional cultural expressions was already highlighted in 1992 by Parliament as one issue that would be worthy of consideration by Parliament. In 2012 the government made a decision to focus its work around making the act technologically neutral and more adaptable to new technologies. It doesn't make the issue around misappropriation and traditional cultural appropriation go away; it's something we still often hear about, including in international negotiations.
Thank you very much.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you again to our witnesses.
If it's true, as my colleague Mr. Shields mentioned, that the legislation cannot change the mentality that copyright isn't important and that everything should be free—a culture that will definitely have to change, if possible—can we also say that the act can, at times, have somewhat of a perverse effect?
When we defined fair dealing for educational use in 2012, certain discrepancies arose that are still noticeable today. Currently, many authors, who are represented by Access Copyright or by Copibec, see their work being used under the pretext of fair dealing for educational use, and aren't paid in consequence. By analogy, let's imagine a similar provision for fair dealing for electricity that would excuse people from paying their electricity bills if the electricity is used for educational purposes!
Can we say that, in 2012, when the Act was reformed, we created a precedent, at a time when our previous collective rights management system was working quite well? Personally, I think that this is the issue that causes the most people to contact us, whether it's copyright holders or people in academia, who come tell us that bachelor degrees are so expensive for our young people. It's true, but these young people aren't paying for their books, even if they do pay for their baked beans and Kraft macaroni and cheese!
Do you have any comments to add?
We have also had a lot of people come to discuss this issue with us. Allow me to go back a few years to help out your colleagues.
In 2012, the government added a certain number of categories for fair dealing, including education. It's also worth remembering that the current problems related to copyright certainly stem from the act, but also from the case law. That same year, in 2012, the Supreme Court of Canada provided a rather broad interpretation of the word “education” in the context of fair dealing.
This decision is indeed controversial. On one side of the debate, we have academic institutions, especially in English Canada, that have developed guidelines around copying for educational purposes, which are not only based on the definition of fair dealing provided by the Copyright Act, but also on the case law, specifically the Supreme Court of Canada decision. In Quebec, the situation is a little different, except with regard to the Université Laval.
On the other side, the publishers of educational material, the Access Copyright collective is of the opinion that these guidelines are much too permissive. This issue always finds its way before the courts; just look at the current case between Access Copyright and York University.
So, to confirm what you're saying, it's still a contentious and polarizing issue. One of the questions the committee might want to ask itself is, how can we defuse the situation? How can we get people to the table to find a solution that works for everyone? Université Laval aside, there is precedent in Quebec. Copibec, Access Copyright's sister organization, is pursuing agreements with all of Quebec's universities, and everything is going well. Will it continue that way? It will depend on future decisions. I think that the decision in the York University case is an important one, and it will be interesting to see how things play out since it has been appealed. We'll see what happens, but one thing is certain: This is clearly a recurrent issue.