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Call to Action: letter writing campaign regarding Canadian Copyright

10 Dec 2021 11:45 AM | Executive Director (Administrator)

Below, please read the copy of a letter that the Canadian Copyright Institute sent on November 18 to those members of Trudeau's Cabinet who were or now are involved in revision of the term of copyright in a work by an author from 50 to 70 years after their death, including ministers involved in negotiations of the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement, which requires that amendment to our Copyright Act. (This letter to these Honourable Ministers was referred to in a letter you received very recently inviting the Writers' Federation of New Brunswick to join the CCI.)

The attached letter to these Ministers with this particular request is time-sensitive. Write to your own MP and anyone they may know in the Senate to ask them to vote for a bill requiring this 20-year extension of the copyright term. You may forward a copy of this letter to the Ministers or in your own words. The letter to the Ministers will be a reminder that the book and periodical sector needs the government to set parameters on "fair dealing for education" and to control the diversion of advertising revenues from news media to Big Tech.

Even at this late date there is still a chance of an expedited passage of a bill with the requested amendment through Parliament and royal assent being obtained before the adjournment of the current sitting of Parliament, expected on December 17 (but could be sooner).  Unless this extension is legislated and assented to by the Governor-General before Parliament adjourns for its upcoming holiday break, the additional 20 years of copyright protection will not benefit a large number of Canadian copyright owners, i.e. heirs of deceased authors who died 50 years ago and the publishers of their works (or subsequent publishers of their works),  neither in Canada nor in some foreign countries. This will be a loss to the Canadian economy as well as to the affected copyright owners.

In haste, and best regards,
Marian Hebb, Chair, Canadian Copyright Institute

November 18, 2021

The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, The Honourable Francois-Philippe Champagne, The Honourable Pable Rodriguez, The Honourable Melanie Joly, The Honourable Mary Ng:

We are writing to express our concern and dismay that the Government continues to delay action to remedy ongoing damage to the book and periodical sector. Government has failed to (i) set parameters on ''fair dealing" for "education" under the Copyright Act, (ii) control the diversion of advertising revenues from news media to Big Tech, and (iii) extend copyright protection of authors' works from 50 to 70 years from the end of the year of their death.

The third issue, which touches on all your portfolios, has a special urgency. There is no reason to procrastinate the 20-year extension of copyright for authors' works to the 70 years' protection after death required by CUSMA- despite that the renegotiated North American free trade agreement allows Canada 2.5 years, until December 31, 2022, to implement this. CUSMA included other term extensions that were implemented and now benefit owners of sound recordings and cinematographic works and performers in sound recordings. This is inequitable. Unless Parliament enacts legislation to extend. Canada's current 50 years' protection after death to 70 years in time for royal assent to this by the end of 2021, heirs of authors whose copyrights expire December 31, 2021, successor copyright owners and their publishers will have no further protection for their works in countries that now provide longer protection than Canada but apply ''the rule of the shorter term''. They will lose all opportunities for further commercialization of their works. Copyrights that expire December 31, 2021 will not be revived - an unnecessary loss for these copyright owners and the Canadian economy. Until Canada's 20-year term extension is in force, all Canadian authors should seek ''first publication'' outside Canada in a country that offers longer protection than Canada without application of ''the rule of the shorter term'' - in order to benefit from longer terms elsewhere.

ln 2019, both the INDU and Heritage Standing Committees as part of the mandatory statutory review of the Copyright Act recommended the 20-year extension of authors' copyrights. This is a simple change not requiring regulations or other special arrangements. Although the INDU Committee recommended that Government consider not allowing enforcement of copyright after the current 50-year term ''unless the alleged infringement occurred after registration of the work," any such restriction would clearly . breach Canada's obligations under the Berne Convention, which prohibits subjecting ''enjoyment and exercise" of copyright to formalities.

We urge you to show good faith to creators and publishers by expediting simple amendments to extend copyright term now and getting royal assent before ending this Parliamentary session (otherwise ongoing incomes in our sector will be lessened for 20 years), by prioritizing legislation on use of news media content and .by regulating ''fair dealing for education.''

Yours sincerely, Marian Hebb, Chair, Canadian Copyright Institute 




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