I call the meeting to order.
Welcome back, everyone. Welcome to meeting number 47 of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2) and the motion adopted in committee on April 12, 2021, the committee has commenced consideration of the study of fair compensation in the field of educational publishing in Canada.
Today's meeting is taking place in a hybrid format. Most of us will be in our own respective virtual rooms, or in the case of Madame Bessette, a virtual environment with a beautiful backdrop. Hopefully you'll get to see that later.
As you know, of course, when you're viewing us from the webcast, the person speaking is the only one you will see on the screen.
Now we get to the crux of the matter. The way this format is going to work is that instead of an hour with each of the witnesses, we're going to have all witnesses. We have six witness groups with us today. We'll carry on. If we need a health break, we'll do that halfway through; nevertheless, we will continue to move on.
I introduce our first witness only because he is not yet with us. He is having a few technical issues. We'll get to him towards the end when he's able to log back on. That would be Bryan Perro, who's a writer, and he's appearing as an individual.
We now go to the organizations. From Access Copyright, we have Roanie Levy, who is the president and chief executive officer; from the Association of Canadian Publishers, Glenn Rollans, who is past president; from the Canadian Society of Children's Authors, Illustrators and Performers, Sylvia McNicoll, author; from the Writers' Union of Canada, John Degen, who is the executive director; and from Universities Canada, Philip Landon, who is the chief operating officer of that organization.
To our witnesses, we've all had our sound checks and are ready to go. We'll have five minutes of your opening statements, and following that, we'll go to each of the caucuses represented here on our committee.
That said, Ms. Levy, I'm going to start with you. You have up to five minutes to begin.
Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you.
Access Copyright is a not-for-profit copyright collective created in 1988 by Canadian creators and publishers to manage the reuse of their works by educational institutions, businesses and not-for-profits. Collective licensing facilitates access to works while ensuring that creators and publishers are fairly compensated when their works are used. This empowers Canadian creators to document our stories and weave together the fabric of the Canadian experience. These stories tell us who we are, where we come from and where we are going.
I'm here today because the education sector outside of Quebec went back on their promise to creators and publishers and to the legislative committee that was examining amendments to the Copyright Act.
Representatives of the education sector repeatedly reassured the legislative committee that fair dealing for education would not impact collective licensing or the livelihood of creators and publishers, yet when the 2012 Copyright Act went into effect, Canadian educational institutions outside of Quebec, in unison, abandoned collective licensing, thereby causing significant harms to writers, visual artists and publishers. They adopted copying guidelines under the guise of fair dealing, authorizing themselves to copy for free what they used to pay for under our collective licence.
Post-secondary institutions could have all of their copying needs met under a collective licence by paying $14.31 a year per student, the cost of a paperback book, and for a K-12 school, it was a mere $2.41 per student per year, and yet the educational sector has spent the past 10 years depriving Canadian authors and publishers of their rightful compensation.
Six hundred million pages of published works are being copied annually with no compensation to the authors. Copying is not licensed through academic libraries or made available under open access licences. These 600 million copies are not licensed. This copying was found by the courts and this committee to harm the livelihood of creators and publishers. It substitutes for the purchase of books and it has resulted in a 76% decrease in royalties to creators and publishers. Historically, these royalties have represented 20% of creators' working incomes and 16% of publishers' profits.
Think of Coteau Books in Regina, which closed its doors after 40 years in business. The global pandemic was the final blow. Now, with one less regional publisher, fewer authors from Saskatchewan, including indigenous writers, will be able to tell their stories.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Oxford University Press, Emond Montgomery and McGraw Hill all exited the K-12 market.
On average, the annual net income a Canadian writer earns from writing is $9,380. Imagine being a writer during a global pandemic. Overnight, your revenue streams from book tours, festivals and school visits disappear. A royalty cheque for educational copying, which 10 years ago you could have counted on, would have been a welcome reprieve.
The marketplace for the educational use of Canadian content is broken and needs to be fixed. I'm here today to remind you that the solution and the clear path to implementing it exist. Because of the work of this committee, led by Madam Dabrusin during the statutory review of the Copyright Act, you have recommendations in the “Shifting Paradigms” report that will restore the marketplace—specifically, recommendations 18 to 21.
This is a solution that all opposition parties support.
I thank both committee vice-chairs, Mr. Rayes and Mr. Champoux, as well as Mr. , the NDP critic for Canadian heritage, for writing to Minister to urge the immediate implementation of these recommendations.
You also have an imminent opportunity to make it happen.
CUSMA requires the government to make amendments to the Copyright Act before the end of 2022. We urge this committee to work with the government to address recommendations 18 to 21 as part of that bill.
Unless we want a Canadian society in which creativity is seen as a luxury, in which being a creator or publisher is not a way of life but just a hobby, in which students will have less access to Canadian stories and will know more about the American constitution than about the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, this is the moment to get the job done.
Thank you for your time. I'm happy to answer questions.
Thank you, Mr. Chair. I'm speaking today for the Association of Canadian Publishers, or ACP, where I serve as a voluntary board member.
Before I go on, I want to acknowledge on this National Indigenous Peoples Day that I'm very grateful to be joining you from Amiskwacîwâskahikan”, or Edmonton, which lies in Treaty No. 6 territory and is a traditional home and meeting ground of many indigenous peoples. I try to bring my gratitude for living and working here into my daily work as a book publisher.
I'm the owner of Brush Education and Freehand Books, both publishing companies based in Alberta. Brush Education specializes in higher education learning resources and Freehand is a literary press. I have worked as a writer, editor and publisher for more than 40 years.
ACP represents 115 independent English-language book publishing houses. Our members are Canadian owned and operate in communities across the country. Along with our francophone colleagues, we publish 80% of the new books published by Canadian writers each year. Our books cross all genres in both print and digital formats. That 80% of new books would otherwise go unpublished, silencing many marginalized voices.
Independent Canadian publishers work with teams of creators to create learning resources for Canadian students that reflect those students' lives. The faces in our resources look like the faces in their classrooms: diverse and inclusive. The values in our works are the values set out in their provinces' curricula. The languages are their languages and the spellings are their spellings. The history is their history. The places are their places. The stories are their stories.
That's what you lose when you allow widespread, unfair, uncompensated copying in the education sector.
I know today's session is intended to update this committee on the question of fair compensation in educational publishing. I was a witness here in October 2018, and I'm sorry to say I'm repeating myself today because so little has changed. We're just further down the same road we were on three years ago.
At my own company, Brush Education, licensing revenues from Access Copyright fell by roughly 80% from 2012 to 2020. This decline was mostly due to Canada's education sector outside of Quebec refusing to license with Access Copyright or to respect tariffs set by the Copyright Board of Canada. That loss of revenue represents a blow to my confidence when investing in new works; a blow to my capacity to employ writers, editors, illustrators and designers; a blow to my ability to serve instructors and students; and a blow to my opportunities to build and grow my companies.
In this environment, many of ACP's members have had to abandon or curtail their K-to-12 programs.
While we were losing direct revenue from copying, we also saw our markets for direct sales dwindle. Imagine being a cash-strapped student or instructor whose administrators tell you that you can now copy for free what you used to pay for. Not surprisingly, when you're in that situation, you stop paying publishers and creators for their new work and you become a scavenger of their old work.
I know the education sector still values our work enough to copy it; they just don't value it enough to pay us for it.
At many stages over the last decade, as the damage to my sector steadily accumulated in real time, we have been told to wait. Wait for new research. Wait for the courts. Wait for the parliamentary review of the act. You've heard or will hear that the right move now is to wait for the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in the appeals of Access Copyright v. York University. I beg you to recognize that whatever the decision of the SCC, it will not fix the problem. It will kick us back into a cycle of litigation with our customers that creators and publishers hate and regret and will inevitably lose, because we have nowhere near the resources of the education sector to keep on fighting.
The good news is that this committee has already identified solutions in its “Shifting Paradigms” report of May 2019, in recommendations 18 through 21, as Ms. Levy specified.
On behalf of the Association of Canadian Publishers, my recommendations today are your recommendations: to repair the act so that it no longer serves as a blanket excuse for uncompensated copying.
Mr. Chair, vice-chairs and members of the committee, I thank you for your good work and for the opportunity to talk with you today.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak on behalf of CANSCAIP, Canadian Society of Children's Authors, Illustrators and Performers, the key creators in the educational sector, especially K to 12.
First I want to acknowledge and celebrate five indigenous colleagues with whom I share the storytelling landscape. They are Monique Gray Smith on Vancouver Island, winner of the Burt Award for First Nations, Inuit and Métis Literature; Cherie Dimaline from Vancouver, Governor General's Award winner; Jacqueline Guest from Alberta, an Order of Canada member; Melanie Florence, a Toronto-based writer and winner of the TD Canadian Children's Literature Award; and Rebecca Thomas, a Governor General's Award nominee and poet laureate from the east coast. All of these indigenous women were published through small Canadian publishers.
Thank you in advance for creating, supporting and soon implementing the “Shifting Paradigms” report.
As an author of novels for children and young adults, I began writing for a living over 33 years ago, when respect for writers and copyright was high and every school wanted to host an author visit or even a bunch of authors on an author day.
My first book was published the year the Copyright Collective was formed. It was chosen as a novel study in the Maritimes, which meant an instant sale of 2,000 books and another print run. In today's numbers, this would probably bump it into the bestseller category.
I inspire kids to read and write. That's my job. It's also my passion. Parents have thrown their arms around me because their children picked up my book as their first to read. That was, of course, in the days when we could hug. Last week I got a note from Orson telling me to keep writing, and his mother sewed me an avocado pouch, so I won the avocado award last week.
Since my first novel, many of my stories have travelled around the world. Sometimes I've been lucky enough to follow. In person, I've spoken to thousands of kids in Colombia and South Korea, all of them proudly waving my book. I love being the Canadian voice that calls out to the world.
As idyllic as that may sound, I have to cobble together a living, like all authors, with school and library visits, writing books and articles, teaching and applying for grants. Public lending rights and Access Copyright Payback were welcome static income that I could count on for mortgage payments and groceries. I didn't have to work night and day for them. That was in good times. We're not in good times for Access Copyright.
Back when that early novel study sale occurred, a classroom set would typically include 30 books. As the years rolled by, it dropped to five, thanks to different philosophies of education, cost-cutting and yes, photocopying and downloading. The teachers stretch their budgets the best ways they can, and I don't blame them.
We're always on the teacher's side. This year, like most writers, I quickly outfitted myself with a mini television studio so that I could perform virtual classroom visits. I applied for grants that allowed schools fully funded presentations. Some included a $100 package of books. Still, teachers photocopied chapters to distribute to all the students.
Colombian and Korean kids wave my novels. Hometown kids flip through paper. My own grandson's homework included reading a sloppy photocopy of an indigenous folk tale. I'm sure it looked more inspiring in book form.
With 17 virtual visits—three with northern schools, 50% indigenous students—teachers read my entire novel online. Some were instructed by their boards, due to COVID regulations, not to purchase books. Especially in the north, I allowed them to record me so that students with itinerant Internet could watch at their convenience. I know my picture book colleagues have allowed their entire books to be reproduced in such a manner, and also on story walks.
We are here for Canada. We want schools to use our work. This is the best way to grow our culture, but we need your support.
More than ever, with shuttered bookstores and frozen library budgets for schools and public libraries, book purchases have suffered. “Worst year ever”, one of my publishers said. For me, even with a contract for a new novel that I just signed and some foreign sales, my income will be halved this year, and it will be a quarter of what I earned prior to fair dealing in 2012.
My granddaughter wants to be a writer, but if the Canadian Heritage committee cannot implement the “Shifting Paradigms” suggestions, I will tell her to go to law school. There won't be any writing jobs, but we will be in the courts for a long time. Who will tell our stories then?
This pandemic year, I fear for how many publishers will go under. I fear for cultural jobs for our children. Most importantly, I fear for our future voice.
Thank you so much for listening.
Thank you very much, Chair.
Good morning. Thank you to the committee for the invitation to appear today.
I'm speaking to you today from Tkaronto, on the north shore of Lake Ontario, which is bound by Dish With One Spoon, a treaty between the Anishinabe and the Haudenosaunee to share the territory, promote peace and protect the land. I'm very, very grateful to have a home here.
I work for The Writers' Union of Canada. I'm here representing over 2,300 authors working in every province and territory in Canada. I am also chair of the International Authors Forum, headquartered in the U.K., and there I work for over 700,000 creative professionals around the globe. These are my day jobs, but if I didn't work for The Writers' Union, I would be a member of the union, because I'm a published author myself. Nothing I say here today is an abstract or theoretical concept for me. I feel the struggles of Canada's authors like Sylvia in my own experience.
On this issue, I've come to Ottawa many times. I've sat down with staff at the 's Office, met with senators, ministers, parliamentary secretaries and members of Parliament—many of you, in fact—and as Glenn mentioned, I've testified before this committee and have written submissions to many copyright consultations. This issue is so prominent on my desk, and has been for the last decade, that I have a fairly standard script, the themes of which are fairness, damage to creative incomes, painful delay and simple solutions.
I hope we touch on all those themes during our discussion today, but for this initial presentation, I want to talk instead about something else. I want to talk about respect.
My son just completed his first year at a Canadian university. It was obviously less than ideal. He did the whole year's worth of work from his bedroom over Zoom. He will likely start his second year the same way. If my son were here, he would tell you that is a profoundly disorienting way to go through what is one of the most important times of your life. The university, understandably, shut down all in-person student services. There were no clubs, no meeting his classmates and no chance to work for the campus radio station or newspaper—at least, not in any real way, the way that I did when I was his age. My son still doesn't even have a university library card.
There's no question that the educational product delivered to my son last year was not the product advertised, and yet we did not begrudge the university its tuition or its student fees, and we would have happily paid the $14.31 copy licensing fee as well.
Why? It's because we respect the value of education, and we think that when a service comes with a price, you pay it or you don't expect the service. Canada's authors are among the most highly educated professionals in our society. Over half the union's members have more than one degree, which means that collectively they've paid enormous amounts into the education system, out of respect. We're simply asking for the same respect in return. Because we do this for a living and because copyright is the foundation of that living, our published work comes with a price, and we expect to be fairly paid.
In all those Ottawa meetings I mentioned, I talked a lot about the economic impact of the last decade. There has certainly been a lot of earned income lost by Canada's authors because the education system decided not to pay its bills. A lot of creative careers were stunted, damaged or even ended because of the cynical destruction of that market. In a way, the damage is unmeasurable, because how do you count the number of books an author didn't write after giving up? How do you count the number of foreign rights sales from those unwritten books or the number of television or film adaptations that never happened because the author just couldn't keep going, even as their work was being taught in the nation's schools?
I talk a lot about lost income and lost creativity. Those are two hugely important losses, yet when I hear from members of the union, the thing they almost always mention first is how disrespected they feel by this situation, disrespected by an educational system they want to think of as a partner.
The current chair of the union, Rhea Tregebov, just retired from teaching at a Canadian creative writing MFA program, and she talks about how she had to go around her university's official policy to make sure no unlicensed copies of writers' works were used, out of respect for her other colleagues—the authors.
We are asking for respect right now, from the education system and from Parliament, because when we go to the Copyright Board to defend our rights, we win. We go to Federal Court to defend our rights and we win. We testify at copyright reviews and our solutions are recommended to Parliament. All of this defence of our rights costs enormous amounts of time and money—time and money that individual authors simply don’t have—and yet we're still waiting for this problem to be fixed.
Please fix it. Implement the “Shifting Paradigms” report recommendations that have been mentioned several times. Let's do that as soon as possible, when the act is amended for CUSMA.
Thank you. I'd be happy to take questions.
Thanks very much, Chair and committee members, for the invitation to appear on behalf of Universities Canada. I'd like to acknowledge the Algonquin nation, from whose traditional unceded territory I'm speaking today.
Universities Canada represents 96 universities whose teaching, research and learning mission is fundamental to preparing students with the skills they need to participate and compete in our economy. Universities Canada and its member institutions were actively engaged with this committee during its 2018-19 review of the Copyright Act, as well as with the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology’s study of the act, and contributed to the government’s 2016 review of Canadian cultural policy.
Universities are creators, owners and users of copyright material and are committed to a balanced approach to copyright. Universities are an integral part of the Canadian cultural community. They care deeply about the success of the Canadian cultural industries. They see their roles as educators who are preparing the next generation of Canadian creators, cultural entrepreneurs and audiences. Universities offer education and training in more than 3,000 distinct academic programs that cover the entire gamut of culture, including the fine and performing arts, design, journalism and communications, as well as the humanities.
Our sector is committed to copyright compliance and to helping both emerging and established artists and creative industries thrive. We know first-hand that the financial challenges faced by many Canadian artists, musicians and writers are real. We understand the very real impacts the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the cultural sector. Canada’s universities have also faced unprecedented challenges during these times, and have been able to pivot and adapt to online and hybrid models to ensure that students continue to learn and achieve during the uncertainty of the past 15 months. Budget pressures have been significant.
For all the pressures from the pandemic, we're optimistic that they will improve in the coming months as Canadians are vaccinated and we return to normalcy, but longer-term pressures are rooted in digital disruption, which is changing how content is consumed around the world. It is the single largest challenge to copyright owners.
We see this fact reflected on campuses across Canada. To meet the evolving needs of their communities, libraries are changing what they buy. Students expect to be able to access course content at any time, anywhere, and across multiple platforms.
Over a 15-year period, the circulation of university libraries’ print collections has steadily declined. Studies at one institution show that nearly 70% of the library’s print collection has not been taken off a bookshelf, let alone signed out, since 2004. At the same time, Canadian universities' library expenditures are increasing annually. In 2018-19 university library acquisitions totalled over $400 million. According to Statistics Canada, universities spent more than $1 billion in the last three years combined on purchasing content for our libraries and for our students. We are purchasing more than we ever have.
For universities, the rise in digital library content and the use of e-reserves at many of our institutions are part of the opportunities that give our students more educational opportunities and make university more accessible. Unlike printed books, digital content purchased by university libraries generally includes reproduction rights. In most cases, content is shared through links protected by digital locks rather than copied.
Universities remain committed to copyright compliance. They have established copyright offices on campus, usually in libraries, that exist to advise and promote compliance among faculty, students and staff on copyright law, including how to interpret and apply fair dealing. Many universities choose to enter into a licensing agreement with a collective. Others purchase direct licences and exercise their statutory user rights, such as fair dealing. The Supreme Court of Canada identifies fair dealing for educational purposes as a right and has repeatedly recognized the importance of balancing copyright interests.
The marketplace for creative industries is changing. In their testimony on May 22, 2018, government department officials spoke at length about how the digital shift is causing large problems for the marketplace. What can the federal government do to mitigate the impacts of disruption on the creative economy? We encourage committee members to consider policies and programs that directly assist individual creators and support industries that help get creators’ work to the marketplace.
Canada’s future prosperity and success in the creative industries depend upon an exchange of ideas and knowledge. Changes to fair dealing would stem this vital flow, hampering the education, research, innovation and creation that are essential to a vibrant and thriving cultural ecosystem.
Thank you again for the opportunity to speak with you today. I welcome any questions.
Thank you. I'll do it in French, if you don't mind.
My name is Bryan Perro. I live in Shawinigan, but I have no connection to Jean Chrétien. I am a writer who is known in Quebec and internationally. I have sold 1.7 million books in French-speaking Canada alone. My books have been translated into 24 languages and are sold in 27 countries, making me one of the most translated Quebec writers in the world and perhaps even Canada. I wrote the Amos Daragon series, 15 medieval fantasy fiction books inspired by mythology.
I was a publisher for 10 years and a bookseller for five years. I have been involved in major productions, contributed to a television series based on my book and participated in large concerts with the Montreal symphony orchestra. With all of that experience, I have an intimate understanding of the interface between the book industry, show business and copyright, as well as its importance to the author who created and owns the work.
I am 53, but I began writing at 24. I wrote my first novel thanks to a $10,000 grant from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec. How many books do you think I sold? Don't answer that. It's a rhetorical question. I sold 133. You might say that, with 133 copies sold, a $10,000 grant makes an expensive book.
I received a second grant of $10,000 for my second novel, which did way better—134 copies sold. It was a slightly less expensive book. My third book, also written with the help of a grant, sold 800 copies. Things were picking pick up—nothing crazy, but it was clear things were shifting.
Then came my 15‑book series, Amos Daragon, which, as I mentioned, sold 1.7 million copies in Quebec and French-speaking Canada. Translated into 24 languages, the series was sold in 27 countries. It did very well in France, of course, but also in Japan. You can find my books in countries as far away as Bulgaria.
Let's look at the numbers, shall we? The government, be it provincial or federal, invested $30,000 in a young writer. The books I sold in Canada alone generated $20,315,000 for the economy, supporting the bookselling, publishing and distribution industries, not to mention the author's share. The return on a $30,000 investment was $4,469,300 in taxes for the Quebec and Canadian governments.
You could argue that not everyone ends up as successful as I am. That's true, but for every successful writer like myself, how many writers does the government invest in to take up the torch and generate revenue? It's about creation, but it's also about the cultural industry. Creators are the foundation of the cultural industry; it is their contribution that brings in the revenue. When I collect my Japanese royalties and I pay my taxes in Canada, the money goes into Canada's coffers, of course, not France's. That's one reason to pay writers well, at every stage.
Copyright is an inalienable right, attributable to France's Beaumarchais. It belongs to the author. A person cannot use copyrighted content without paying the creator royalties. I'll give you an example. I see Mr. Rayes, whom I know. Mr. Rayes worked hard and bought himself a car. The car belongs to him. If I go over to his house and tell him that I'm going to take his car keys, he'll ask me why. If I tell him that I'm a school principal and that his car should support a good cause, he will say that he worked hard to buy his car and that he owns it. I can argue all day long that it's for a good cause, children's education, but it doesn't work that way.
All the members of Parliament are paid, are they not? Why, then, shouldn't a writer who creates a work not be paid fairly for their reproduction rights and their published work?
This isn't about justice, my friends; it's about fairness, and the intellectual and financial prosperity of the country.
Oh, was it? Well, happy belated birthday.
Okay, everyone, thank you very much. That ends our testimony from our witnesses' opening statements.
Now we go into questions, and I have a couple of tips for everyone.
We're now on an expanded list of witnesses, as you know. We have all six of them here. Colleagues, it would help us greatly if you could identify who you want to ask your question to, as opposed to saying that you have a question and anybody can answer. That tends to chew up a lot of time and creates a bit of confusion, since we have six witnesses here. You could help me out.
As for our witnesses, now when I give colleagues time of five or six minutes, the time is their own. If you wish to get in on a conversation, you could wave your hand if you wish, or do something of that nature to try to get the attention of the person asking the question. I would ask my colleagues to be aware of that.
We are now going to the Conservatives and Mr. Rayes. Mr. Rayes, you have six minutes.
Thank you to all the witnesses for being here. I'd like to say a special hello to Mr. Perro, my fellow Quebecker.
You listed so many of your achievements and bestsellers. I have three children, and you were my son's favourite author. We have all 15 of your Amos Daragon books at home. Congratulations on your tremendous success. An author from my neck of the woods, Alain Bergeron, whom you no doubt know, also wrote quite a few children's books.
I can attest to the impact your work—and the work of all the creators who are here today—has on young people. Not only does it help them gain language skills, but it also helps them discover the world. The young people who read your books benefit from all that creativity you capture on paper. We all know how important reading is for the acquisition of language skills.
I used to be a high school teacher, as well as a principal at an elementary school and a high school. Unfortunately, I have seen how challenging it can be to ensure copyright rules are respected when staff make copies of material. They aren't necessarily doing it with ill intent, but it just goes to show how important it is to have good regulations and to ensure they are enforced in all schools, to support authors.
Mr. Perro, I will have a question for you, but my first question is for Ms. Levy, from Access Copyright.
As you mentioned, we sent a letter to Mr. . In May 2019, all the political parties took part in a study conducted by the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. That was over two years ago. You pointed out that recommendations 18, 20 and 21 could be implemented immediately to help authors.
Can you explain the three recommendations to committee members and those watching us today?
I'd like to thank Mr. Rayes for the opportunity to explain the recommendations that were part of the report. Basically, one of the recommendations clearly calls for a return to licensing through collective societies. The other two recommendations are intended to address the technicalities around that return to collective licensing.
One of the recommendations states that, when a work is available on the market through a licence issued by a publisher or a collective society, the fair dealing exception should no longer apply to educational institutions. Fair dealing would still be available to students, but not to the institutions. The idea is to prevent works from being systematically and widely reproduced without the author being compensated. That is an important recommendation.
The other recommendation has to do with the damages prescribed by the act. The purpose is to avoid lawsuits and create an incentive to negotiate agreements with collective societies.
To some extent, Mr. Landon's comments reflect the other side of the situation you mentioned. However, it's important to point out that [Technical difficulty—Editor
] facts are misunderstood on both sides.
For example, Mr. Landon talked about the hundreds of millions of dollars universities already pay in copyright royalties. Right now, we are trying to figure out who isn't paying, not who is. We are worried about works being used under the guise of fair dealing in situations where the courts have determined that fair dealing does not apply.
It is important to understand that we have no issues with those who pay. We are talking about those who do not pay, about works being copied without creators being compensated. That is really the issue. It's also important to understand that those who pay publishers and authors, and those who copy works without paying royalties are not the same people.
They aren't at all the same people, so they shouldn't be confused.
Mr. Degen, thank you for that.
Ms. McNicoll, I want to go to you now and thank you for your books. I have nieces and a daughter who quite enjoy them, so thank you so very much.
I have a question, though, because you talked about future voices. You talked about a granddaughter who you said wants to be a writer, but that you'll tell her she should get into law instead. To me, that is heartbreaking, because we need more creative people. We need more writers in our country. Writers are to be celebrated at every turn, and I'm not just saying that because I'm one too; I believe that to my core.
Tell me more about what you're seeing with regard to young people, the young voices, outside of your granddaughter, people who I am sure you have talked to, readers of your books. Tell me more about where things stand with them, because what happens right now directly impacts them and will into the future.
First off, regarding the author visit, as I said, back when I started and the Copyright Collective started, we also had whole language. There was a huge focus on kids reading regular novels to teach them grammar and spelling and to enjoy them, and as I said, we went into the schools daily.
There is a technological shift too. We want to be makerspace and we want to be coding, so the heroic author, the author who comes into the school, is not coming there and there aren't these huge festivals. However, I still get snail mail and fan letters, and kids still want to be writers. The reason I showed you Orson's letter is so that I can write to him and say I showed his letter in Parliament. I am still encouraging them to be writers, but perhaps they can be lawyers part time.
In terms of the impact, the kids don't know anything about copyright, and I will say that the teachers don't either. They feel that they are doing it. In my K-to-12 sector, we're not that digital. The kids can get our books online in the library; They don't. They still need hard copies. As I said, my indigenous friends don't have strong Internet. In K to 12, we're still very much using book books and photocopying.
I think parents want to pay the $2.41 so that children's literature is still Canadian and speaks to them. As to our future voices, we'll see. We'll have to see about that. Will there be fewer authors in the school and fewer books, and just floppy paper? I don't know.
Did I answer you? I'm sorry. I go off on tangents.
Thanks very much for the question.
Two simple parts should be answered. One is that, as John Degen alluded to, many years have gone by since the education sector abandoned its collective licences. The direct revenues from those licences are now in arrears by about $150 million. Every year that goes by adds about $30 million to that licensing non-payment, or the tariff non-payment for institutions that don't access a voluntary licence.
On top of that, a company such as mine hopes to sell not to libraries, as Mr. Landon was referencing, but to students. We sell teaching and learning materials for the classrooms, and my opportunity to do that if the environment is one where copyright compliance officers in universities work in fact to make sure that they are not paying to use copyright but instead work—
The Chair: Thank you—
Mr. Glenn Rollans: Thanks very much, Mr. Simms.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
A great big thank you to all the witnesses for joining us today. This meeting is both essential and enlightening.
I would like to begin by saying hello to Mr. Perro.
Mr. Perro, last time we saw each other—and this may be far in your memory—was on the set of my cooking show Qu'est-ce qui mijote? You left an impression on my whole team with your thundering and contagious laugh. We remembered it fondly. Your good humour also made everyone happy. However, the topic of our discussion today is not really something that puts writers or anyone involved in publishing in a good mood.
Access Copyright's report, which we have looked at, mentions a study from the Writers' Union of Canada. That study focused on writers and their average income. Since 1998, their income has dropped by [Technical difficulty—Editor]. The report mentions that, on average, writers apparently make about $9,500 a year.
Are you feeling that fact in the community? I would like you to answer my question specifically concerning Quebec.
How are our writers doing in this current context?
I cannot tell you how people who are part of the Writers' Union of Canada or Quebec writers are doing, but I can talk to you about the people I come across.
Those people have been suffering for years. They have often questioned their desire to write. They have thought twice before deciding to continue writing. A huge amount of time and work goes into writing a novel. What is more, as we know, it is not a profitable endeavour.
Mr. Champoux, do you know that Quebec authors sell 350 books on average per year? That average takes into account the 1.7 million books I have sold, and it also includes the books of known successful authors.
Year after year, 40,000 new titles in French are released in Quebec annually. I don't even want to think about what is released in English around the world and in the rest of Canada. Clearly, people like me, who are managing to make a good living, are privileged. The fact that authors do not receive at least a little something to encourage them has a dramatic impact on authors' writing process.
I hope we will achieve the goal soon.
You are asking me what my state of mind has been. What I find unfortunate is that we have been trying to move this file forward for almost 10 years. If the government does not get involved, we will have another 10 years ahead of us. Whether we win or lose in the Supreme Court, I don't doubt that we will get involved in another dispute to, once again, try to clarify the fair dealing guidelines. It is absolutely necessary for the government to get involved and make clear amendments to the Copyright Act.
What I find very encouraging is that we do have a simple solution in the recommendations laid out in “Shifting Paradigms” and that we have the support of all the opposition parties. Thank you once again, Martin Champoux, and other representatives who have written to .
The third thing I find encouraging is that there is an opportunity to make those changes soon. The Copyright Act is not often amended. However, that will have to be done by December 2022. A bill will soon look to amend the legislation related to the Canada—United States—Mexico Agreement. That will be the perfect opportunity to end this conflict and re-establish a partnership between the publishing industry and the education sector.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, and thank you to all the witnesses for being here today.
This has been very interesting. I am a relatively new member to this committee, so I was not part of the study that was undertaken in May 2019. I hadn't been elected yet.
It is concerning and worrisome that so little has happened since that study was undertaken, because we have those recommendations in front of us. I would like to begin by asking a few questions of my fellow Edmontonian who is joining us today. I'd like to ask Mr. Rollans a few questions.
In the conversation today, we've been spending a lot of time talking about the situation in Quebec and what that means for writers in Quebec. I would like to get a sense from your perspective, knowing that we're both in Edmonton at the moment, of the situation in the rest of Canada. How is it different in the rest of Canada from what it is in Quebec?
Thanks for the question and the opportunity, Ms. McPherson.
What I would say to it is that the universities are and have been following the law as it has been applied in the Copyright Act, and as the Supreme Court has upheld through five rulings. They're not cheating. They're not “scavenging”, as some of the language that has come out says. They're actually following the Canadian law on copyright, which expects that there is a balance between users' rights and creators' rights. That's what the Copyright Act of 2012 has stated, and that's what the Supreme Court has upheld.
Yes, there are numerous legal interpretations, and it's before the Supreme Court at the moment around the case that Access Copyright has taken York University to court on, but as I said in my opening statement, universities are committed to copyright compliance and they are promoting copyright compliance throughout, with officers and with alternate means.
Thank you, Mr. Chair. Welcome, guests.
I was a school board trustee in Saskatchewan for 10 years and also sat on the executive of the Saskatchewan School Boards Association. As you all know, budgets everywhere have been reduced, and the first place you look at in schools is the purchase of new materials.
It's interesting, because the first cuts that we make as trustees around the table are usually to the resource library people, which is probably the last area you should look at. I do notice that in Saskatchewan—in fact, in Saskatoon right now—one school division is down $8 million, and the first place they looked at was teacher and librarian cuts.
I'm going to start with Ms. Levy and then I'm going to go to Ms. McNicoll.
Ms. McNicoll, you were right. On the teachers side, they spend their own money on books lots of times, and on writings and so on. Could you comment on that? Somebody made the comment that teachers are often at the photocopier at 7:00 in the morning or 4:30 in the afternoon. Can you talk about that?
I'll start with Ms. McNicoll. You're not blaming the teachers. You know, as school board trustees, we really looked the other way, to be honest with you, because we were looking for ways to save money for the school division. It's not only in Saskatchewan. I can tell you that Canadian school boards also looked the other way, because everyone is looking for money.
How to answer you best, Mr. Waugh?
Let me tell you this: When I do signings at the Ontario Library Association, I recognize the teachers from my own board. There will be three to five teachers lined up to get a free autographed book from me. That will be how they get my books.
From 2012 to 2021, sales of my books have gone from perhaps 6,000 books in Canada down to 1,400. I also feel that now we are entering into squatters' rights. Teachers and school boards have gotten away without a licence for 11 years. They can't possibly imagine paying the horrific sum of $2.41 a child. They can't afford it, they say.
In effect, our teachers don't know this. They feel they're complying, as they are, with fair dealing, but the school boards are saying, “We can't afford culture.”
One of my daughters works for a small company that is a subcontractor for other publishers. They were publishing a book on immigration for wide use, and this had a lot of Trump theory, so there's a huge danger in allowing our voices to be shut down.
I love teachers. I love that they read my books out loud, but you have to understand that they're reading them out loud and they're being recorded. Next year they'll use them again, and they're not going to pay me $2.41.
Korea bought 18,000 of my books. Colombia bought 15,000. Canada bought 1,400. Yes, I know: They are different populations.
Does that answer your question, Mr. Waugh?
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, and thank you to all our panellists.
I do want to begin, on this National Indigenous Peoples Day, by saying that I'm in Kitchener, Ontario, the traditional territory of the Anishinabe, Haudenosaunee and Neutral peoples.
This is a very interesting conversation. Ms. McPherson mentioned that a number of us, myself included, are newly elected, so we're jumping right in. It looks like there's been an ongoing discussion, and I am glad to be part of it.
Until a year and a half ago, I was a full-time musician and writer. I can see the unbelievable parallels between songwriting and writing, just in a different medium. I feel kindred.
Ms. McNicoll, your hand was up about a round ago when Ms. Levy was talking about dealing with court cases, trials and appeal courts. I wonder if you would like to add to that conversation before I continue my line of questioning.
That's terrific. Thank you for the question, Mr. Louis.
I just wanted to add to what Roanie was saying, because I'm busily paying these bills myself right now. I have two sons heading to university and I have to say that the university licence is $14.31 per student. I work in culture and I don't make a whole lot of money. In paying the university bills, that's the lowest part of the bill by far, and the least painful part for us. We would very gladly pay that licence fee.
You asked about other countries. I do a lot of work internationally. As a matter of fact, just before coming here, Roanie Levy and I were both on a panel talking about copyright exceptions around the world. Other countries look at Canada with a little bit of discomfort and fear right now, because they have established collective licensing for educational purposes in place and they don't want to see this kind of move away from collective licensing happen within their markets because they've seen how destructive it is for us. If you look at England, if you look at Australia, if you look at some of our larger partners out there, you see that they all have very respectful licensing in place for educational uses.
I would like to put a question to Mr. Landon to get an idea of universities' point of view.
Mr. Landon, we have not had the pleasure of meeting over the past few months, and I am concerned about the role of universities. For me, they don't have the same role as for-profit companies. They are institutions that disseminate knowledge, and shape the leaders of tomorrow and good citizens. In that sense, I feel that their role must focus much more on moral than on legal aspects.
You have often mentioned that you respect the law in how you manage copyright. I subscribe to all sorts of online music providers, including Apple Music, Spotify and Tidal, and I pay for the content I listen to on those platforms. However, I cannot justify paying for those subscriptions to enable me to illegally download content on other platforms.
When you say that you are already paying several million dollars in copyright fees, I get the impression that you are providing justifications. It is as if you were saying that, because you are already paying millions of dollars in copyright fees, it's not a big deal to make copies of work that is the property of writers and authors. I am somewhat under the impression that you are justifying yourself in what you are saying.
I would like you to elaborate on this, Mr. Landon, as it has left me with a bad taste in my mouth.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Again, thank you for this very interesting conversation.
I have a question for Mr. Perro.
First of all, happy birthday. It's very nice of you to join us today on your birthday.
As somebody who is trying very hard to learn French, it looks like I have my summer reading list all set up. I'm a big fantasy fan.
I have spent a lot of time working with non-profits, with charities and with international development organizations. When you were talking, one of the things that was clicking in my mind was that we've constantly asked the government for a recognition of the time it takes to develop talent, to develop projects, to develop work, and the need for long-term commitment and predictable funding mechanisms. I think you spoke about that a little, but I'll give you a bit more time, if I could, to articulate just how important those things are in ensuring that our writers can go from those hundred books sold to the massive success that you've seen.
That's what we call in French “recherche et développement
”. We just have to note that.
I will continue in French, if you don't mind.
No writing career develops overnight. We don't start writing, just as we don't start living—actually, few people do so—with tremendous success.
It's sort of like climbing Mount Everest. If you try to climb Mount Everest all of a sudden, you will lack air and come back down very quickly. There are steps to building a career. We need the air necessary to enable us to climb from one step to the next, thereby building a career.
You are completely right in saying that this is done over the long term. It is not an immediate or a miraculous development. It happens through work and with the support of a community of readers, government and policies, which enable us to climb that Mount Everest and to mean something to a people, a nation and a country. Authors are there to provide meaning. Few people have that function in society.
Am I answering the question well?
There are two issues before the court right now. The first issue is whether or not the copying guidelines that York University has, which are the same as the rest of the education sector, are fair. In other words, are they legal? Do they comply with the Copyright Act as well as the Supreme Court of Canada's past decisions on fair dealing? What the trial and the appeal courts said was they are not fair, and that's now before the Supreme Court.
The other question is whether tariffs that are certified by the Copyright Board, which is a quasi-judicial tribunal that sets rates to make sure that they're fair and equitable for users and for the rights holders, can be enforced. In other words, if somebody uses a work in Access Copyright's repertoire and they haven't cleared the rights and it is not under an exception, can Access Copyright enforce the tariff to make sure that the tariff gets paid? At trial it was found that the tariffs are enforceable; at the appeal level it was found that they're not enforceable. Now the Supreme Court will say whether or not tariffs are enforceable.
This is an important question, because as you've heard from others, particularly the authors rely heavily on their collective to do not just the management but also the enforcement of the right, because it's almost impossible—“an absolute impossibility”, Mr. Rollans said—to actually enforce the rights and go after users when they use materials illegally.
Those are the two questions. Now, the reason we say we can't wait for the Supreme Court of Canada decision is that we believe that “fair dealing” is so vaguely defined that even if we win at the Supreme Court —and we believe we will win at the Supreme Court, and they will say that the guidelines are not fair and are illegal—we'll be in a situation in which the university sector will just design a new set of guidelines. We will be back before the courts again with a new set of guidelines. It will be “fair dealing 2.0”.
I'm sorry, Ms. Dabrusin. I sometimes get a little bit generous with the timing. Unfortunately, I have to move on because we're now starting our third round, which we don't often do, but here we are.
I know Ms. Levy and Mr. Degen had their hands up. I apologize. Hopefully, you can work that in later.
Mr. Shields was originally up, but Ms. Shin, would you like to ask a question? Before you do, can you tell me the name of your riding? I already know it, but I don't think we got a sound check from you at the beginning.
Tell me the name of your riding and in two sentences tell me why it's the best in the country.
I'd like to thank the witnesses for speaking today on the topic of copyright and the need to update Canada's copyright laws.
As I'm listening to the discussion, I hear the frustration. I also am reminded how, in general, the public has a lot of misguided perceptions about the value of compensating writers and artists in general. I'm a composer myself. I remember before my work as an MP that it was an ongoing struggle.
It's very clear that the numbers that were passed around.... It's not a large amount. I would love to hear that conversation going further.
Could I hear from Access Copyright? What is the argument that you're hearing from those who don't want to change the laws and enforce the tariffs, etc.? What is the argument?
What we hear and what we've heard also before the court in the York case is that people already pay for it or that what they use is offered in open access licences and therefore they don't need to pay for it, or that the amount they use is so little that it is fair. It's done under an exception.
The court concluded, once four weeks' worth of evidence was brought before it, that they do not already pay for the stuff that gets copied without payment; that there aren't, in fact, licences there to pay for it; and that a lot gets copied and is copied in a mass and systemic way. The amount that gets copied is not fair. The amount that gets copied is not in compliance with the teachings of the Supreme Court. The amount that gets copied is very harmful to writing and publishing and is therefore illegal.
Lots of statements are made that haven't been backed by facts, certainly not when we were before the Supreme Court.
I had my hand up a little bit earlier. Mr. Landon spoke about the rate and you also spoke about the amounts and the rates. If it's a disagreement on the amount that should be paid, then we have in Canada the perfect vehicle to address that. We have a specialized tribunal whose role is precisely to set the rates when the rights holders and the users of the content are not able to negotiate an agreement on their own. If they're not able to agree, we have a Copyright Board to set the rate. That should not be the concern about going forward and putting in place, again, a return to collective licensing.
I hope that answers your question.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Ms. McNicoll, it's a pleasure to meet you, as you are one of my favourite children's authors. I really appreciate it, and I know you're also originally from Montreal.
Mr. Perro, it is a great pleasure to meet you in person.
I'm going to start with a question to Ms. Levy.
We've talked a lot about the Canadian experience and fair dealing. What is the major difference between the United States' fair dealing, or fair use, versus the Canadian fair dealing? Can you give me a couple of examples of how our copyright legislation is different in Canada from that of the United States?
Yes. That's another interesting difference. In the U.S., the use of an unpublished work, under fair dealing, tends to be not fair, whereas it's the opposite in Canada.
That all just points to the fact that the concept of fairness is very vague and is always changing. Another set of judges might come up with a different set of fairness rules. It's very hard to run a market on something that is so vague.
What's interesting as well is to learn from those jurisdictions that do have fair dealing—not fair use, as in the U.S.—fair dealing as [Technical difficulty—Editor] and how they've managed to have fair dealing for education in a more manageable and market-friendly way. The U.K. and Ireland and Australia are examples where the availability of the licence trumps fair dealing. Fair dealing for education is still there, but when there isn't a licence that is available at a reasonable cost with reasonable effort, then fair dealing is no longer available for educational institutions. In those jurisdictions, the fair dealing is still available for students, but not for educational institutions.
The point there is to not allow the mass and systemic copying that happens when copying is directed by educational institutions.
Yes, I was a bit generous, Ms. McPherson, only because you provided everyone with a great extro, and thank you for doing that with your time. It's well appreciated.
Folks, I've been through a lot of conversations. As I mentioned, we keep on getting better and better. Today was an excellent meeting, very informative. Thank you to my colleagues for providing that, and equally thank you to our guests, who provided their experience, their work, and their entertainment as many not only young but also older people enjoyed your books and publications. We thank you so much for bringing that experience to us here today as we go forward.
Colleagues, this brings us to our final session of the spring session. I wanted to say a huge thank you to you all. This has been quite an interesting little session we had this spring between legislation, hearings, reports and so on and so forth. Of course, we're not done yet, as we never are, but it was a good session nonetheless.
I want take a special thank you to Aimée, Gabrielle, and to Marion, who are apart of our staff, and in absentia also to Philippe Méla for his work.
If you'll join me, colleagues, I can't think of a more appropriate way to say thank you to a group of people who are highly professional for the wonderful job that they do. They always give us the thumbs-up when we're clear. I would ask you that you join me in giving them a thumbs-up, not just for being clear but also for being incredibly professional and patient. Thank you so much to our interpreters. Thank you.
Let me just name the guests very quickly before I go out.
Now, Ms. Levy, it appears that by a conservative count your name was differently pronounced in about 10 different ways, I think. How do you pronounce your name, Madam?
Madam, thank you very much for joining us. Roanie comes from Access Copyright.
Mr. Bryan Perro is a writer and author. From the Association of Canadian Publishers, we have Glenn Rollans. From the Canadian Society of Children's Authors, Illustrators and Performers, we Sylvia McNicoll. We also have John Degen from The Writers' Union of Canada, and Philip Landon from Universities Canada.
I'll make one quick note before we go.
Colleagues, because we are also embarking upon a study for an independent body for complaints in sports, as we talked about earlier. I know it's probably a long time before we start that, but your ideas for witnesses would truly be appreciated. If you could do that as soon as possible, it would give us a head start on things.
That being the end—
Sorry, Ms. Ien; you have a comment.