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Public Advocacy Toolkit

The upcoming 2017 review of the Copyright Act presents an important opportunity for Canadian creators and publishers get involved and ensure their point-of-view is represented and considered during the process.

The cultural sector is an important driver of Canada’s economy, and the hard work, dedication and passion of content creators and publishers forms a vital piece of that sector, which Statistics Canada has pegged at $61.7 billion, or about 3.3% of Canada’s GDP, for 2014.

Even though the review has not yet officially started, there are still actions that you, as a member of Canada’s creator and publisher community, can take right now to share your unique perspective with your local MP.

That’s where this guide comes in. It doesn’t tell you what you write—as a creator or publisher, we know you can express yourself.  What it does give is some practical suggestions about where to direct your efforts.

Our help doesn’t simply end with this guide. If you need assistance or just a little encouragement, contact us anytime at editor@accesscopyright.ca or give us a call at 416-868-1620 (toll-free 1-800-893-5777).

What’s at Stake

This fall, the Federal Government will launch a review of the Copyright Act, as outlined in the 2012 Copyright Modernization Act, which requires the government to review the Act every five years.

This review is of utmost strategic importance to Canadian creators and publishers as it affords an opportunity to outline the impact felt as a result of the addition of “education” as a fair-dealing purpose in the Act and the education sector’s broad interpretation of fair dealing.

In 2012, the education sector adopted self-defined “Fair Dealing Guidelines”, which encourage widespread, systematic copying. Under these guidelines, neither permission nor royalties is required to copy 10% of a book or magazine, or an entire chapter or article, whichever is greater. That photocopy, or digital copy, is often shared with all the students in a class, compiled in a course pack with other articles or chapters, or posted on a password-protected learning management system. The implementation of these policies has led to a significant decline in licensing revenue from the education sector.

A report commissioned by Access Copyright and released by PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2015 outlines in great detail what the impact of these policies has been on Canada’s creators and publishers, including:

  • Significant harm to educational publishing in Canada.
  • Fewer Canadian titles & less variety of Canadian educators and students.
  • Reduced investment in Canada.

To learn more, we encourage you to read this short summary which includes a link to the full report.

Additionally, Quill & Quire has reported on how the actions of the education sector have led to declines in royalty payments from our organization to creators and publishers that we expect to continue this year.

What Can You Do

As a Canadian creator or publisher, the primary task right now is to help make the work of Canada’s creative sector tangible and real to local MPs. You can do this by illustrating how the issue of “educational” fair dealing has impacted you, and sharing with your local MP your unique story on why you have chosen creative work.

By doing this, you can start building a relationship and rapport with your local MP so that you can continue to push this issue later in the year once the legislative review has commenced.

The two most effective ways to get in touch with your local MP is to write a letter or try to arrange a face-to-face meeting.

Tips on Writing to Your Local MP

A well-crafted letter or email can help to influence legislation and policy, and gives you the opportunity to say exactly what you wish to say and express to your local MP.

It’s an opportunity to clearly articulate your position and to bring attention to an issue you are passionate about that your local MP may not be aware of.

A well-crafted MP letter typically follows these general rules.

  • Do not use a form letter – make your letter original.
  • Clearly state you are a constituent of the MP you are writing.
  • Mention any organization or group you belong to, and how many people it represents.
  • Keep it to one page if possible – short letters have the greatest impact.
  • Make your position clear – say exactly what you want to happen.  
  • Give concrete, vivid examples from your experiences.
  • When possible, cite other groups also supporting your viewpoint.
  • Ask for the candidate’s viewpoint.
  • Lay out an ‘ask’ or ‘call to action’ – state what you would like your MP to do for you.
  • Request a response.
  • Include your name, address and phone number – this reinforces that you are a member of your MP’s riding.

How to Find your Local MP

Finding your Member of Parliament (MP) and their contact information is easy. Visit Parliament of Canada’s Find your local MP tool and type your postal code in the box on the home page to find all of the contact information you need.

Postal Letter or E-mail?

Depending on your MP, he or she may prefer one form of communication over another. It’s a good idea to call your local MP’s office and simply ask about what might be the best way to send your letter. If sending a letter via Canada Post, please remember that you do not need to attach postage for letters sent to MPs. If sending an e-mail, please remember to still include your full name and address at the end of the message.

Arranging a meeting with your Local MP 

Members of Parliaments have a duty and obligation to represent all constituents and are genuinely interested in their concerns. However, it is important to remember that MPs have a lot of demands on their time. Therefore, if you want to try to arrange a meeting with your local MP, you’ll need to be persistent.

The best time to arrange a meeting is when Parliament is not in session and MPs are in their local ridings. Parliament is not scheduled to not be in the session for the weeks of March 13, March 27, April 17 and 24, May 22 and during the summer starting on Monday, June 26.

To arrange a meeting, follow these four steps.

1.         Prepare for the Meeting

  • Learn as much as you can about your local MP, including what committee(s) he or she may serve on. Be sure to check out their website as well as the Parliamentary website.

2.         Request a Meeting

  • If possible, connect with two or three other creators and/or a publisher in your riding and get them to join you.
  • Write an email (jointly) and follow-up with a phone call (don’t wait for a response). Try to make your pitch relevant to your MP’s interests if you can.
  • Find out what public activities your MP is participating in and show up.
  • Introduce yourself and be prepared to briefly state your request for a meeting.
  • Follow-up with the MP’s constituency assistant.

3.         During the Meeting

  • Thank the MP for his or her time; introduce yourself/yourselves and name the creator or publisher group(s) you belong to or represent
  • Get a sense of how informed the MP is about the issue and what is their position, if they have one. Use this opportunity to adapt your approach as needed.
  • MPs appreciate hearing well-prepared positions, even if they do not agree. They also appreciate your taking a genuine interest in their positions and their concerns so it’s important to be sure to listen and engage in a two-way dialogue.
  • Anticipate questions and be prepared to answer. If you can’t answer, promise to get back to the MP with answers and follow-through on that. If there are any questions you can’t answer – let us know and we’ll get back to you.
  • Be clear with what you would like your MP to do.
  • Ask your MP to let you know what steps he or she will be taking.
  • Thank the MP for the opportunity to meet.

4.         Following-Up on the Meeting

  • Be sure to follow-up with a thank-you letter or email as soon as possible after the meeting has concluded.
  • Follow-up on any action items you agreed to (such as providing more information or answering important questions).
  • When other opportunities for advocacy on this issue appear, be sure to get in touch with your MP to remind them of your position and what you wish him or her to do.

If you need assistance or a little encouragement to get started or to continue advocating, you contact us anytime at editor@accesscopyright.ca or give us a call at 416-868-1620 (toll-free 1-800-893-5777).

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