Copyright Board certifies 2010-2015 K-12 Tariff

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Deeply problematic decision for creators & publishers     

On Friday, the Copyright Board certified a new royalty rate to cover copying of published works in K-12 schools. The new rate is $2.46 per student per year, for the years 2010 to 2012, and $2.41 per student per year, for the years 2013 to 2015, and beyond.

While the amounts may appear reasonable on the surface, we are disappointed by the Board’s decision, which establishes a troubling framework for determining the fairness of copying behaviour in schools and dismisses the value of much of the content that is used. 

The new rate is lower than the previously certified rate of $4.66 for the years 2005-2009—a reduction that is attributed to a revised application of fair dealing provisions in the Copyright Act.  

The Board estimated, for example, that schools covered under the tariff copied approximately 195-million pages from books in Access Copyright’s repertoire each year. In its tariff valuation, however, the board excluded 87% of that copying, or approximately 179-million pages.

That means creators and publishers of books are going uncompensated for copying of an amount equivalent to approximately 897,300 books, annually.  

We are concerned this decision will further diminish the incentives to publish at the same time as it creates a compelling incentive for K-12 decision-makers to rely, even more, on copying as an alternative to purchasing content.        

The potential consequences include reduced investment in content creation and, ultimately, reduced availability of “created in Canada” content for our classrooms—issues the Board considered irrelevant in its assessment of fair dealing.

Publishing and education have a common interest in the ongoing availability of high-quality, contemporary Canadian content. Maintaining it means cultivating a balanced ecosystem that encourages all of the players to participate. The Board’s decision upsets that balance.

Teachers now share more content with students than ever before.  Our challenge today is to rediscover the equilibrium that can sustain both the “shareability” and availability we currently enjoy.

Roanie Levy
Executive Director
Access Copyright