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Dear Copyright Consultation Committee:
Thank you for soliciting input on the copyright laws. I am a writer who makes a living from books. My income depends on royalties from the sale of my books as well as from the reproduction of my books under collective licenses. This income pays for food, shelter and clothing for my family, and allows me to write.
I believe copyright should exist to protect writers like me. Canada’s creative community has proven it can win accolades and achieve greatness in the global marketplace when the conditions are there for creativity to flourish and thrive.
However, creativity and innovation will continue to thrive only when such work is rewarded. Fair compensation for creators provides the resources and incentives we need to continue to create and innovate.
Canadian creators and publishers are actively pursuing new business models and opportunities. Expanded fair dealing, new exceptions in the Copyright Act, and a weakening of collectives and collective licensing rules would undercut these models and the sustainability of our Canadian cultural industries.
The copyright reforms advocated by creators and publishers are reforms that have been successfully implemented in other markets. In many countries that have modernized their copyright laws, digital marketplaces are flourishing, consumer choice far exceeds that in Canada, and illegitimate file sharing is declining. The result? Legal online activity is skyrocketing among teenagers and illegal behaviour has plunged.
New digital technologies have made it cheap and easy for anyone to copy files and make money from them, or to copy and distribute works without recognizing my need to get paid for these uses. In order to keep up with the times and with new technology as it arises, Canadian copyright law should be technology neutral. It should be based on general principles rather than specific technologies. In other words, the ability of a creator to get paid for the use of his/her work should not depend on the technology used. The Copyright Act must provide clear, predictable and fair rules to allow Canadians to derive benefits from their creations.
Until now, by failing to take action, our government has fostered a culture that demeans and devalues intellectual property. This is a culture that assumes copyright works can be expropriated without proper compensation for those who invested their talents, skills, time and hard work to create them. We need rules to discourage the unauthorized taking of other people’s property without permission or compensation. It is only fair that we protect writers’ investments of time, money and creativity.
I want my work to be distributed as widely as possible. But I want to be paid fairly when my work is used. Instead of resorting to exceptions and expanded fair dealing which do not offer compensation to creators, the government should facilitate an expansion of the existing system of collective licensing which provides users with easy access to copyright materials through one-stop shopping and creators with fair remuneration when their works are used.
I am a professional, and I produce professional quality products. Like other professionals, I expect and deserve to be paid. No one suggests that teachers should not be paid, or that the suppliers of computers and other materials used in the classroom should give them away for free. Canadian creators and information producers need the same respect if we are to continue making an important contribution to Canadian culture and society.
Thank you for the opportunity to express these views and help ensure Canada’s copyright laws match international standards and reward innovation and creativity.