[“Everybody knows that the boat is leaking, everybody knows that the captain lied…”
From Everybody Knows by Leonard Cohen.]
Testimony at Canada’s copyright review shows cultural workers suffering, the world noticing, and education pretending none of that is actually happening.
by John Degen
Canada’s copyright review committee has been travelling the country, setting down in five major cities to hear testimony from individuals and groups. [Imagine if the U.S. Congress did that with the Music Modernization Act?]
Testimony from the cultural side of the table has been shocking and compelling. In Toronto, for instance, best-selling children’s author Sylvia McNicoll revealed that she has personally visited a classroom (at a prison school) where the entire class set of her book were bound photocopies. She has suffered a 90% total income drop since 2012 when Canada’s Copyright Act was weakened beyond its ability to protect creators’ rights.
Ms. McNicoll told Parliament that she is reluctantly retiring from the business, and will be selling her house as a result. I can confirm that I have heard similar stories and plans from many respected Canadian authors. That is more Canadian content discouraged and uncreated, and Canadian workers impoverished.
Parliament has heard from publishers that the explosion of free copying since 2012 has affected not only their own royalties, but the royalties they pass to their authors. Some have noted those steep royalty declines (80–90%) represent the difference between profit and loss, and that primary sales of actual books have also been negatively affected. What that means is that continued investment in Canadian content becomes untenable.