Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology announces plans for travelling sessions as part of the review of the Copyright Act

Last week, the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology announced plans to hold formal hearings and public, open-mic sessions in five cities across Canada as part of the statutory review of the Copyright Act.

In addition to hearing testimony from creators, stakeholders, and legal experts in Ottawa, the committee will travel to the following cities:

Monday, May 7 Halifax, Nova Scotia
Tuesday, May 8 Montreal, Quebec
Wednesday, May 9 Toronto, Ontario
Thursday, May 10 Winnipeg, Manitoba
Friday, May 11 Vancouver, British Columbia

Interested parties can submit a request to appear at the formal hearing portion of the sessions by emailing the Committee at indu@parl.gc.ca. The Committee notes that due to volume of requests, they cannot guarantee that every individual or organization that requests to appear will be accommodated.

The open-mic sessions will take place in the evenings, and are primarily dedicated to individuals speaking in their own capacity.

Additionally, Canadians can participate in the process by submitting a written brief, containing less than 2,000 words, by email to the Committee at indu@parl.gc.ca.

Creative groups welcome Copyright Act review announcement, stressing the need for meaningful reforms

On December 14, the Government of Canada announced that the Standing Committee on Industry will undertake the statutory review of the Copyright Act.

Creators have been eagerly awaiting this review, as it presents a vital opportunity for the government to stand up for Canadian creators, and ensure that they receive fair remuneration for their work in the evolving digital landscape.

There is reason to be optimistic that this review will bring reforms that benefit creators. In the government’s release, The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage, spoke of the need to ensure Canadian creators are compensated fairly for the use of their work:

“Our government is committed to helping Canadian creators succeed and having great content easily discovered and enjoyed in Canada and abroad. This requires a copyright framework that works well in the context of our fast-paced digital world and provides creators with opportunities to get fair value for their work.”

The government release also notes that “it is critical for Canada to maintain a comprehensive copyright framework, one in which Canadian creators get fairly compensated for their work, users benefit from great choices and business can thrive.”

The announcement was widely welcomed by creative industry groups, including several supporting partners of the Focus On Creators coalition:

Importantly, amid the excitement and optimism there is also a sense of urgency to improve the current situation for creators. Many who congratulated Minister Bains and Minister Joly on the announcement also stressed the need for a full and meaningful review of the Act.

“Music creators, and all creators who depend on copyright, deserve a Copyright Act that protects their rights when their works are commercialized by others,” said Graham Henderson, President and CEO of Music Canada. “This is our chance to address the Value Gap threatening the livelihood of Canadian creators and the future of Canadian culture.”

Artist advocate Miranda Mulholland, who recently gave a keynote address in Ottawa on success in the digital marketplace to an audience that included political decision-makers, was also quoted in Music Canada’s release on the importance of strong copyright provisions:

“A modern copyright framework containing strong IP and copyright provisions is essential for an effective marketplace for music creators. This Copyright Act review is an important first step in ensuring artists and labels are able to earn a fair market value for their work. Canadian creators have been eagerly awaiting this review.”

Access Copyright’s statement touches on the importance of the Copyright Act review for authors and publishers:

“Access Copyright is pleased to see this important review underway. Since the Copyright Modernization Act in 2012, creators and publishers have experienced a drastic reduction in their income for the use of their work by the education sector. This important review heralds a critical opportunity to re-examine the role that copyright plays for both creators and users and address the Value Gap caused by 2012 amendments to the Act to ensure continued access to outstanding Canadian content for our classrooms.”

Access Copyright also drew attention to I Value Canadian Stories, “an initiative spearheaded by a coalition of associations across the creative industries who are calling on the federal government to restore fair compensation to creators and publishers for the use of their works by the education sector during this review.”

Eric Baptiste, Chief Executive Officer of SOCAN, called for Canada to assume a global leadership position on copyright:

“Canadian copyright legislation is lagging behind those of other G7 countries, and I hope that, through this review, Canada will want to assume a world leadership position on copyright, as it does on other issues. In a sector in turmoil, especially with the arrival of new ways to consume and listen to music, more than ever we need strong copyright protection to ensure that music creators and publishers are fairly compensated for their work.”

More than 3,600 Canadian creators have signed our letter to Minister Joly. Now that the review has officially been announced, it is more important than ever to urge the Government of Canada to put creators at the heart of future policy. If you’re a Canadian creator and haven’t yet signed our letter, please read it and sign if you agree.

As the review process unfolds, Focus On Creators will share new developments and any opportunities for Canadian creators to make their voices heard.

Canadian creators are eagerly awaiting the Copyright Act’s statutory review

When the Copyright Modernization Act (CMA) was passed in 2012, it included an amendment that mandated that the Copyright Act be reviewed every five years. Recognizing both the length of time that it took to modernize Canada’s copyright laws (the CMA was the fourth attempt to amend the Act since 2005), as well as the speed at which technology evolves in the digital age, the mandatory five-year review was intended to ensure that Canada’s copyright regime remains responsive to a changing environment.

The Copyright Act review was mandated by Parliament to begin five years after the day the CMA took effect on November 7, 2012.

“Five years after the day on which this section comes into force and at the end of each subsequent period of five years, a committee of the Senate, of the House of Commons or of both Houses of Parliament is to be designated or established for the purpose of reviewing this Act.”

–  The Copyright Modernization Act

Creators have been eagerly awaiting the Act review, with the hope of addressing the copyright policies that affect their livelihood. More than 3,500 creators have signed the Focus On Creators joint letter to Minister of Canadian Heritage Mélanie Joly, which urges her to put creators at the heart of future policy, specifically including the five-year mandated review of the Copyright Act in 2017. As well, a new initiative called I Value Canadian Stories looks to the Copyright Act review as an opportunity to restore fair compensation to creators and publishers for the use of their works by the education sector. Seeking the enhanced protection of creators’ intellectual property, the Canadian Music Publishers Association called for a full review of the Copyright Act in an op-ed published in the Hill Times, and Music Canada has called for a “full and meaningful review” of the Copyright Act to help restore a functioning marketplace and curtail cross-subsidies paid by creators to major media corporations.

The government has repeatedly referred to the review of the Copyright Act as an opportunity to protect creators’ rights. When Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly revealed her vision for Canada’s creative industries in the digital age with her Creative Canada speech in September, she announced that the government would “soon launch a parliamentary review of the Copyright Act,” which she would ensure “defends the interests of creators.”

Minister Joly also referred to the review of the Copyright Act as an opportunity to help Canadian creators earn a living from their work during an online townhall hosted by HuffPost Canada in June. Responding to a question posed by Focus On Creators, Joly replied: “I know the issue of fairness to creators is really important, and that is why actually I raised it with the important digital platforms. … It’s something that I have, certainly, at heart, and in the context of the revision of the Copyright Act – there is going to be a Parliamentary revision of the Copyright Act – I’ll have that in mind as well.”

At the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage on November 2nd, Minister Joly pointed to the revision of the Copyright Act as an opportunity to address the concerns of the Francophone community and the Quebec cultural sector.

It is clear that both creators and the government see the statutory five-year review of the Copyright Act as a key opportunity to address the policies that affect the livelihood of Canadian creators. It is now time to begin that review process; not only because it is mandated by legislation, but because there is an urgent need to address the policies that affect creators’ livelihoods. For Canadian creators, a full and meaningful review of the Copyright Act cannot come soon enough, and is now officially overdue.