The Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology announces launch of Canadian Copyright Act review

On March 29, the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology announced new details of the statutory review of the Canadian Copyright Act, mandated to take place every five years.

We now know that the Committee will hear testimony in three phases where representatives from creator and stakeholder groups, as well as legal experts, will be able to make their voices heard. The Committee is aiming to complete all three phases by early 2019.

  • Phase 1 will hear from “witnesses representing specific sectors of activity, including publishing, visual arts, software and telecommunications.”
  • Phase 2 will hear from “witnesses representing a range of stakeholders involved in multiple sectors of activity, such as Indigenous communities and various interest groups.”
  • Phase 3 will hear from “legal experts, including individual lawyers and academics, along with professional associations.”

In addition, creators from all over Canada will have opportunities to share their thoughts and views when the Committee travels across the country in May of 2018.

We encourage all those who signed the Focus On Creators letter, and all creators, to seize the opportunities available to them to be active and engaged in the review process. It is essential that creators be heard loud and clear.

Another opportunity that all Canadian creators should partake in is written submissions to the Committee. If you have never submitted a written brief to a House of Commons committee you can consult the Guide for Submitting Briefs to House of Commons Committees. Written submissions to the Copyright Act review must be no longer than 2,000 words and should be submitted to

Of particular interest to creators is that the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology has invited the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage to conduct a related study supporting the Copyright Act review on “remuneration models for artists and creative industries.”

We will continue to provide updates on the review and the various ways Canadian creators can take action as new details are made available.

Federal Court judgement in Access Copyright v. York University underscores need for meaningful Copyright Act Review

Professional creators in Canada have welcomed a landmark Federal Court judgment reining in rampant free copying of creative work in the educational space. In a decision delivered July 12, Justice Michael Phelan in effect ruled in favour of all creative professionals when he found that York University had over-reached on its unilaterally defined claims of “fair dealing” for the “mass systemic and systematic copying” it performed and/or allowed on campus.

In unequivocal language, the court discarded York University’s claims to the Copyright Act’s fair dealing provision, recognizing correctly that York’s usage of the copyright protected material in question was “not fair,” and was therefore subject to the terms of a previously defined tariff. Justice Phelan also correctly applied precedent from recent Supreme Court of Canada decisions, making the court’s decision on this case extremely unlikely to be overturned.

“It is evident,” Justice Phelan wrote, “that York created [their Fair Dealing] Guidelines and operated under them primarily to obtain for free that which they had previously paid for. One may legitimately ask how such “works for free” could be fair if fairness encompasses more than one person’s unilateral benefit.” York’s guidelines, modelled largely on similar policy promoted throughout the educational sector, were found to be “arbitrary” and “not soundly based in principle.”

“This is the win we’ve been waiting for,” said The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC) Chair Marjorie Doyle in a release. “For years now, Canadian writers have seen huge amounts of our valuable work copied for free by the educational sector. The court has recognized the value of our labour and ordered fair payment for that work.”

“Great news for creators!,” tweeted the Playwrights Guild of Canada.

“Needless to say, I’m happy with this ruling,” award-winning Canadian author Brian Brennan wrote on his blog. “Since I started freelancing in 2000, I have been grateful for the fact that Access Copyright did the heavy lifting for me in terms of protecting my copyright. It meant I didn’t have to spend time in my local library watching to see who might be photocopying something I had written.”

“CARCC: Copyright Visual Arts would like to thank Access Copyright for its role in the recent Federal Court judgement,” said Paddy Lamb, Co-chair of CARCC . “Visual artists have been directly affected by the loss of income resulting from the 2012 amendments to the Copyright Act. We stand with our colleagues in other sectors in calling for practical and meaningful reform that protects and encourages professional creativity in Canada.”

This court challenge was necessitated by poorly designed amendments to the Copyright Act introduced in 2012. Those changes led to a dramatic increase in copying incorrectly claimed under fair dealing, which has had a significant and detrimental effect on Canadian authors’ incomes. While the Federal Court’s decision is an important legal development for Canadian authors, visual artists, playwrights, and publishers, the case underscores the need for the upcoming Copyright Act review to include meaningful reforms to the Act in order to better encourage and protect professional creativity.

As the Focus On Creators letter to Minister Joly states:

“We will continue to do what we can to succeed in the evolving digital landscape, but we need the help of Canada’s government right now…  We know you understand the cultural significance of our work; we hope you also see its value and crucial place in Canada’s economy. We ask that you put creators at the heart of future policy.”

Canada’s Federal Court has now provided clear direction for the upcoming review of the Copyright Act. There should be no more confusion about copyright’s purpose.

Focus On Creators calls on the federal government to provide meaningful Parliamentary review to Canada’s Copyright Act. The review should focus on encouraging professional creation of Canadian culture and protecting the rights of Canada’s precarious cultural sector workers.

If you’re a Canadian creator and haven’t yet signed the letter, please read it, and sign if you agree.

Canadian creative industry associations applaud Supreme Court of Canada decision in Equustek v Google

On June 28, the Supreme Court of Canada issued what has been deemed a landmark decision, upholding an earlier Supreme Court of British Columbia ruling that Google must deindex search results worldwide of a website trafficking in goods created from stolen trade secrets of the BC-based Equustek Solutions Inc.

The decision has been applauded by creative industry associations in Canada, as well as by international groups, some of whom were interveners in the case supporting Equustek. For these groups, the decision represents a step towards better protection for intellectual property owners on the borderless Internet, where infringement can cause irreparable harm to the livelihoods of creators.

In its decision, the Supreme Court emphasized that, in order to be effective, its order must apply globally:

“The problem in this case is occurring online and globally. The Internet has no borders – its natural habitat is global. The only way to ensure the interlocutory injunction attained its objective was to have it apply where Google operates – globally.”

In a blog post, SOCAN summed up the implications of the decision for intellectual property owners:

“The decision has broad implications for intellectual property law and provides further protection to intellectual property owners for the use of their works on the Internet. Intellectual property owners can now seek an order requiring Internet intermediaries to remove access to infringing websites worldwide.”

The Association of Canadian Publishers, which represents approximately 115 Canadian-owned and controlled book publishers, and also acted as an intervener in the case, commented on the impact the decision could have on the book industry in a press release:

“The Equustek decision will be important to book publishers given the widespread online piracy of books. The Court’s decision is expected to support efforts to curb internet-based infringement of a range of digital products, including ebooks, audiobooks, and scanned print books.”

This Supreme Court decision aligns with principles supported by the Focus On Creators coalition, and has been applauded by supporting partners and other groups as having the potential to better protect the livelihoods of creators. As the Focus On Creators letter to Minister Joly states:

“The carefully designed laws and regulations of the 1990s were intended to ensure that both Canadian creators and technological innovators would benefit from digital developments. We hoped that new technology would enrich the cultural experiences for artists and consumers alike. Unfortunately, this has not happened. Instead, our work is increasingly used to monetize technology without adequately remunerating its creators.”

If you’re a Canadian creator and haven’t yet signed the letter, please read it, and sign if you agree.

ACTRA and ACTRA RACS, who combined represent more than 23,000 Canadian actors and tens of thousands of recording artists in Canada and around the world, join Focus On Creators coalition

In release issued today, ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists) and ACTRA RACS (Recording Artists’ Collecting Society) announced they have formally joined the Focus On Creators coalition as supporting partners to call for action from the federal government to better support the livelihoods of their members.

“ACTRA is proud to join other members of Canada’s creative class to ensure the government hears the voice of creators when it comes to federal policy,” said ACTRA National President David Sparrow. “Whether they sing, write, compose or act, creative artists are facing real challenges in a digital age, and we need government to step up.”

ACTRA represents the interests of 23,000 professional performer members across the country working in English-language recorded media. ACTRA RACS is the division of ACTRA dedicated to distributing royalties to recording artists for the use of their work.

“Too many artists are living in poverty, while giant tech companies are producing devices that exploit their work without compensation.” said ACTRA National Executive Director Stephen Waddell. “Consumers are viewing more content online than ever before on multiple digital devices and screens. Yet artists are not being paid for use and reuse of their work on those devices.”

If you’re a Canadian actor, recording artist, or any type of creator, and you haven’t yet joined the nearly 3,000 creators who have signed the Focus On Creators letter urging Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly to put creators at the heart of cultural policy, please read the letter and sign if you agree.

Our letter to Minister Joly hits 2,500 signatures as creators in the spotlight during JUNOs 2017

We are happy to announce our joint letter to Minister Joly has now surpassed 2,500 signatures, following a JUNO Awards weekend where creators, and their rights, were front and center.

The weekend officially opened with the Chairman’s Reception and Welcome Reception at Ottawa’s National Gallery of Canada on the Friday evening. Music Canada displayed an installation called “Anthology: Defining Moments in Canadian Music” that celebrates our music history through the last five decades, including the developments that govern music creators’ ability to make a living from their work, and the new technologies that connect them to their fans. The display was accompanied by a quiz card, which invited guests to test their Canadian music knowledge and highlighted Focus On Creators. At the Chairman’s Reception, attended by political decision makers and music industry personnel, Music Canada’s Graham Henderson argued that we owe it to creators to improve the conditions in which they work, and have two vital opportunities with Canadian Culture in a Digital World consultations and the 2017 Copyright Act review.

SOCAN and its songwriter members were in the spotlight all weekend. At Saturday night’s Gala Dinner & Awards, SOCAN CEO Eric Baptiste called for improved compensation for music creators, a call that was echoed by many speakers that evening, including Buffy Sainte-Marie, as she accepted the Allan Waters Humanitarian Award, and Bell Media President Randy Lennox, as he accepted the Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award.

At a reception hosted by CIMA and ADISQ on Sunday, the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage, spoke of the need for fairness, and her government’s commitment to promoting Canadian artists with $4.1 million in export investments. Minister Joly also recognized creators’ contribution to Canada in a statement published in the JUNOs guidebook. CIMA’s President Stuart Johnston spoke at Sunday’s event, where he mentioned the Focus On Creators coalition, and the united calls to put creators at the heart of future policy.

JUNO-nominated Ottawa musician Kathleen Edwards, who on Friday participated in the ‘Ottawa as a Music City’ discussion, posted a spirited call on Facebook to fellow creators, urging them to add their names to our joint letter.

“SIGN this letter,” she wrote. “I did. If you know people in the creative arts in Canada, share it. It’s important that Canadians know and appreciate that artists contribute to the economy in this country and their intellectual property deserves to be protected. This isn’t a ‘please give us a hand out’ letter. It’s a ‘please implement policy that protects our copyright.’”

We’re encouraged that supporting creators was a major theme of JUNOs weekend, coming from artists, broadcasters, industry workers, and elected officials. Creators must be at the center of any policy discussions, and we’re glad to see this being recognized so widely. Let’s keep up this momentum! If you’re a creator and you haven’t yet signed the letter, please do so at:

International Authors Forum calls on Canada to protect its cultural workers by repairing copyright

At its recent annual general meeting in London, the International Authors Forum (IAF) passed a special resolution calling upon the Canadian government to immediately repair its copyright legislation, after earlier amendments resulted in unsustainable losses to Canada’s authors and publishers.

The IAF noted the recent “Canadian Content in a Digital World” consultations, and a recent statement from the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage, that future policy “should address the issue of fairness to creators when it comes to how they can make a living in this digital age.”

The IAF statement, which was also posted on the Writers’ Union of Canada website, notes that since 2012, Canada’s writers and publishers have seen educational copyright agreements collapse, resulting in an annual loss of tens of millions of dollars. Canadian schools, colleges and universities, insisting they had been given broad permission to copy without permission or compensation because of a one-word expansion of Canada’s fair dealing provision, have in large part refused to sign new collective licensing agreements. Ongoing use of previously licensed material has resulted in a number of costly court challenges that threaten to go on for years.

“Author incomes in Canada are in a steep dive,” said IAF Chair, John Degen, “and the situation is unsustainable. Canada cannot expect teachable, high-quality Canadian content in our schools, if education is not willing to pay for that work.”

The IAF noted that outside of a copyright licensing context, post-secondary institutions in Canada appear to be copying more and more into print and digital course packs, largely without the permission of the author, or any compensation to either author or publisher. The educational sector has drawn up its own unilaterally-defined, legally-unproven fair dealing guidelines.

“Schools claim their guidelines provide clarity and promote respect for copyright,” added Degen, “but we’ve found the exact opposite. The Writers’ Union of Canada recently took action to stop the scanning and distribution of entire books on one university campus. Recently published, in-copyright books that were otherwise available for purchase were being scanned and uploaded in full to a public website, by scholars insisting they had the right to do so. They did not. As far as I can tell, the guidelines promoted by education are fostering just this kind of confusion, and creating a free-for-all of copying.”

The IAF concludes with a statement of support for a balance between user access and creator reward. “Respecting this balance drives creation and creates opportunities for students to access high-quality work”, reads the statement. “Without creator reward in the current context, Canadian copyright has fallen out of balance.”

Focus On Creators’ joint letter to Minister Joly, which has been signed by more than 2,500 individual creators, calls on the government to help Canadian creators earn a reasonable living, so that they will be able to continue to tell Canadian stories. Noting that Canada has two major opportunities to stand up for creators over the next year: Canadian Heritage’s cultural policy review and the five-year mandated review of the Copyright Act in 2017, the letter calls on the government to put creators at the heart of future policy. If you’re a Canadian creator and you haven’t yet signed the letter, please visit and add your name to help send this important message to policymakers in Ottawa.

Canadian Heritage Receives Clear Message About Supporting Creators

Supporting Canada’s creators a strong focus of #DigiCanCon consultation report

Feedback gathered through social media, in-person consultations and the DigiCanCon web portal has been compiled and released in the form of the Department of Canadian Heritage’s consultation report called What we heard across Canada: Canadian Culture in a Digital World.

Focus On Creators has analyzed and discussed the report with our partners. We are encouraged by the consensus message sent to Canadian Heritage by those who took part in the consultations.

The report was prepared by Ipsos, who the government commissioned to synthesize feedback from thousands of Canadians, including citizens, industry associations and stakeholders. Ideas and submissions are archived on the government’s ‘What we have heard’ website.

Focus On Creators’ supporting partners shared news of the report’s release:

A wide swath of Canada’s creative industries participated in the consultations, including authors, visual artists, musicians, actors, screenwriters, and other creators of cultural content.

Overall, the ideas and submissions contained in the report provide many reasons to be hopeful that the consultation will produce positive results for creators. Many participants expressed a belief shared by our coalition that creators need to be compensated fairly when their work is used.

Creators were central to a few of the consultations’ key themes:

Modernizing Canada’s legislative framework and national cultural institutions could have profound results for Canada’s creators. Our letter to Minister Joly, now signed by more than 2,400 Canadian creators, identifies the 2017 Copyright Act review as a major opportunity for the government to stand up for Canada’s creators. Participants in the consultations agreed the Copyright Act has “not kept pace with the shifting digital environment and should be examined.” This feedback reinforces the importance of the 2017 Copyright Act review, specifically the need for meaningful updates to the Act to better support creators in the digital age.

Showcasing Canada’s cultural sector includes exploring the need for increased support for the production, marketing and export of Canadian content, which would help underscore its value at home and abroad.

Reasserting the role of Canadian creators in the digital age was something participants felt was necessary because of the “need to ensure that Canadian creators share in the financial rewards resulting from increased dissemination of cultural content via digital channels,” as well as the need “to foster increased re-investments in order to promote the creation of Canadian digital cultural content.” According to the report, these actions will help ensure creators can earn a living from their creative work so they don’t have to “seek out other career paths in order to support themselves.” This is, of course, a key point for Focus On Creators, and we’re encouraged that the report recognizes the link between digital dissemination and declining incomes for professional creators.

Defining Canadian cultural content and Canadian cultural creators was something that participants felt was in need of an update if the government is going to create new policies centered around these definitions. The report says there was “near unanimous agreement” on this point, while noting participants’ differing opinions on the definitions themselves.

Adapting current funding models to a constantly changing cultural landscape would allow for projects of cultural significance, such as Indigenous and diverse perspectives, to be expressed regardless of their perceived commercial viability.

The consultations were based on three core questions, which after review of submissions and feedback from participants, transformed into core principles.

Focusing on Citizens and Creators:

This first principle was suggested by participant consensus that our cultural system must support creators through skills development and the ability to protect ownership of their work so they can capitalize on success. Investing in our creators through sustainable funding models is another part of this principle, and there is agreement that “Canada’s current public funding model needs to be re-evaluated and transformed to allow broader access, more flexibility and reduced bureaucratic processes and procedures.”

Developing our creators through promotion and investment in arts education was another action identified by participants that could contribute to a healthy cultural system. A strong call also came to equip artists and creators with business skills, as “most agreed that creators and creative entrepreneurs need support that will allow them not only to refine their technical skills in the arts but also to turn their creative endeavours into sustainable businesses for themselves and to the benefit of the Canadian economy.”

Protecting our creators cannot be achieved without protecting their ability to commercialize their work. This is another point of consensus identified in the report. This section includes mention of the Copyright Act, noting the problem currently for most creators is that our intellectual property legislation is viewed as outdated and ineffective. “Several participants spoke specifically of the mandated five year review of the Copyright Act in 2017, saying that this was a vital opportunity for Canada to ‘stand up for creators.’ Most agreed that changes to IP legislation that divert the flow of revenue back to the hands of the idea generators is essential to the future of the cultural ecosystem in Canada.”

Reflecting Canadian identities and promoting sound democracy:

To reflect Canadian identities, participants felt that cultural funding should take our diverse population into account and particular attention should be paid to promoting Indigenous representation, both official languages, and stories that reflect our broad spectrum of voices. As for promoting a strong democracy, “there was general agreement that a robust Canadian cultural offering contributes to a strong Canadian identity which in turn breeds engaged citizens.” This is another reason it is so essential that our government ensure our creators can continue to tell uniquely Canadian stories to the world, and global stories to Canadians.

Catalyzing economic and social innovation:

A cultural ecosystem that thrives and fuels the growth of the middle class was identified by participants as central to this third principle. We believe this begins with creators. As our letter states, our work is being consumed in greater volume than ever, but too many creators are being squeezed out in the digital marketplace, and the middle class artist is being eliminated from the Canadian economy. A cultural ecosystem that fuels the growth of the middle class MUST ensure that our cultural creators can earn a reasonable living from their work so that a creative middle class can thrive.

Although there were differing opinions on how to achieve the goals and changes participants agreed were necessary in the digital age, the fact that creators were always front and center in the conversation is reason to be optimistic about the end result of this consultation, as well as future policy decisions that affect our cultural industries like the 2017 Copyright Act review.

We urge the government to use the information gleaned from this consultation to establish a model for the sustained growth of Canada’s creative middle class.

SOCAN (the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada) Joins Focus On Creators Coalition

We are pleased to announce that SOCAN (the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada) has formally joined the Focus On Creators coalition as a supporting partner!

SOCAN is the Canadian copyright collective that administers the performing rights of more than 130,000 members by licensing the use of their music in Canada.

“On the eve of copyright reform in Canada – with the upcoming review of Canada’s Copyright Act in 2017, and the government’s Canadian Content in a Digital World consultations – there’s no more important time for SOCAN’s songwriter, composer and music publisher members to make their voices heard by signing on to the Focus On Creators initiative,” said SOCAN CEO Eric Baptiste in a release.

We welcome the support of SOCAN, and encourage their creator members to add their names to our joint letter to Minister Joly at

Heritage Minister Joly shares first impressions from #DigiCanCon consultations at Prime Time in Ottawa

Yesterday, at the Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA)’s Prime Time in Ottawa conference, the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage, participated in a keynote conversation with CMPA President and CEO Reynolds Mastin, in which she shared preliminary observations from the Canadian Content in a Digital World consultations. The full conversation has been archived on YouTube.

After showing a video with images from the consultations in various cities, Minister Joly spoke of the size and scope of the consultation, noting that 30,000 people contributed to the consultations through town halls, website submissions, and social media.

“We saw a broad range of people getting involved. Actors, musicians, producers, even private broadcasters, the public broadcaster, and also some telecoms and some digital platforms,” said Joly. “So, it was interesting to have this conversation – I think the time was just right. And that’s why also, I saw an evolution in the discussion, and clearly a need for modernization.”

Minister Joly mentioned that she felt “empowered” by the response of creators and other stakeholders in the consultation process, and spoke to the importance of fairness for content creators in developing policies. She acknowledged that content creators are at the heart of the cultural ecosystem, and stressed the importance of promoting Canadian content both at home and abroad.

“My job is to promote Canadian content. My job is to make sure that you have access to markets here at home and across the world,” said Joly. “My job is to be the Chief Marketing Officer for Canadian content and to develop these networks ultimately for the content creators and the industry here.”

To that point, Minister Joly noted that the Dept. of Canadian Heritage is currently developing Canada’s first-ever Cultural Export Strategy, which she said will be announced some time in 2017. The government is investing $35 million over two years towards the development of the Export Strategy, and Minister Joly says that a new Canadian Cultural Policy will also be announced in 2017.

The government has contracted Ipsos to analyse the results of submissions throughout the consultation process, and according to Minister Joly, we can expect a report to be released in the next few weeks.

Submissions to the consultation are now closed, but Focus On Creators will continue to advocate for policies that allow Canadian creators to earn a living from their work and continue to tell Canadian stories. As stated in our letter to Minister Joly, the work of Canadian creators is being consumed in greater volume than ever before, but many creators struggle to earn a living from their work. The cultural policy review as well as the five-year mandated review of the Copyright Act in 2017 provide an opportunity to put creators at the heart of cultural policy.

We are encouraged by the first impressions from the consultation and Minister Joly’s statements regarding the cultural and economic importance of Canada’s creators, and will continue to monitor for future developments.

If you’re a Canadian creator and haven’t yet signed our letter, we invite you to add your name at, and to stay updated on our initiative by following us on Twitter and on Facebook.

Momentum for Focus On Creators continues as more than 2,000 creators sign on to joint letter

We are pleased to announce that more than 2,000 creators have now added their names to our joint letter urging Minister of Canadian Heritage Mélanie Joly to put creators at the heart of future policy. Support for our letter has been very strong since launch last week and continues to build.

The names of 1,077 Canadian creators appeared on the letter delivered to Minister Joly on November 29, 2016. Since then, an incredible 943 more authors, musicians, actors, composers, filmmakers, playwrights, poets, visual artists and other creators have added their names, bringing the total to 2,022, and support is still growing!

On December 7, we were proud to welcome the Canadian Council of Music Industry Associations (CCMIA) as a new supporting partner. The CCMIA represents around 8,000 artists, managers, labels and other industry professionals through its provincial and territorial member associations. Keep an eye out for new supporting organizations coming aboard in the future.

Let’s keep the momentum going so that policymakers in Ottawa hear the message loud and clear. Focus On Creators is a call to action by Canadian creators. Canadians are consuming more digital content than ever before, and creators have led the shift – they have digitized their work, mastered the Internet, and become their own social media directors. Yet the laws and regulations that allow creators to exploit their works to make a living are now out of date. Without urgent attention from government, thousands of Canadian creators will not be able to tell their uniquely Canadian stories.

If you’re a Canadian creator and you haven’t yet signed the letter, have a look and add your name here.