We’ve been following the progress of the new copyright bill, Bill C-11. One of the biggest issues to affect writers is the extension of the definition of “Fair Dealing”. Since the bill is now before a Parliamentary Committee, this is the last chance we have to voice any reservations we might have about the bill. The Writers’ Union of Canada has put together the following call to action, and if you share this concern about the bill, now is the time to do something about it. Here’s the message from TWUC to the WGA, along with a template for a letter you can use or adapt if you want:
The Writers’ Union of Canada is today distributing this email to all of our members, asking them to write TODAY to their MP, with a cc to MPs attached to the copyright file, to express writers’ concerns about Bill C-11. Timing is of the essence. The Bill is now before a Parliamentary Committee and decisions will be made in the next few days and weeks. We are asking members to write immediately in the hopes of generating a good volume of emails this week (rather than a trickle). YOU CAN HELP. Please feel free to adapt the cover instructions and the template email below to express your organization’s views and send this to your members as soon as you can. Volume is very important – the more people they hear from the more influence we will collectively have. I hope you will join us in this effort.
Kelly Duffin, Executive Director
Please take 5 minutes to personalize the template email below and send it to your MP (you can find their email address by cutting and pasting this URL into your web searcher: http://parl.gc.ca/Default.aspx?Language=E then entering your postal code in the box in the middle of the screen, under the “House of Commons” section).
Some of you may have done this last fall but, especially if you did not receive a reply and given the short time left for amendments to be made to this Bill, please do write again.
Please also copy your email to the responsible Ministers (the Minister of Industry, Christian Paradis, and the Minister of Canadian Heritage, James Moore) and the C-11 Committee members and Clerk of the Committee, at email addresses provided below:
Subject Line: Bill C-11
Dear [Insert MP’s name]:
I am an author living in your riding.
My livelihood depends on the Copyright Act. As with other legislation related to intellectual property, the Copyright Actenables creators, working as entrepreneurs, to manage their work and earn an income. It also gives publishers (many of them small and medium-sized enterprises) confidence to invest in Canadian content. At this time of economic uncertainty, and as we all make the transition to digital business models, the Copyright Act is more important than ever to Canada’s book industry.
I support modernizing the Copyright Act, but Bill C-11, an Act to Amend the Copyright Act, proposes to cut back on rights that are the underpinning of writers’ survival. There are more than 30 new exceptions affecting rightsholders. Many of these new exceptions take away or reduce the ability I currently have to control my work and to be compensated for it.
Among the most troubling of these exceptions is the extension of “fair dealing” (which is uncompensated use) to “education.” If much more of the work of creators can be used for free in educational settings, the educational market is at risk of being legislated away. For Canadian writers and publishers this will be devastating. At a time when the Government has declared the goal of having more Canadian history taught in our classrooms, it is surely counterproductive to harm the market for the creators and publishers of that history.
I am not asking for anything new or anything more than I have now. I am asking that you support amendments to Bill C-11 so that it will not severely curtail my longstanding property rights and so that I can continue to make my cultural and economic contributions.
In consideration of my deep concern, I would request a response from you to the following questions:
§ Have you calculated the negative impact on Canadian writing, the publishing business, and the access of Canadians to Canadian content that would result from Bill C-11 as currently written?
§ If there is no intention to harm the market for our work, will you support the addition of clauses that make harm to the market the primary consideration in determining whether a use will be deemed “fair dealing”?
I look forward to your reply and hope for your support of writers’ ability to continue to contribute to Canadian culture and to the Canadian economy.
[Insert your name]