The arguments over copyright and copyright law in the digital age have been rumbling along for years now, sometimes erupting into mainstream view, other times sinking back beneath the public radar once again. In Canada a small tweak to copyright legislation resulted in a large loss of income for many writers when the principle of ‘fair dealing’ was extended to include education and interpreted by educational institutions to mean unlimited copying of relatively large portions of works. In the past, educators in Canada had paid small fees in order to reproduce copyrighted work by writers for use in course pack collections; this tweak to the law meant that those payments were no longer made in most instances. In a relatively small book market like Canada, the effect of this tiny change to the law had a huge impact on writers and The Writers’ Union of Canada has been fighting against it.
John Degen, writer and Executive Director of The Writers’ Union of Canada, created this Storify summarising his take on the great copyright debate and arguing that writers interests must be central to any discussion of copyright and proposed changes to it.
John Degen is a poet and novelist. His debut novel, The Uninvited Guest, was shortlisted for the 2006 Amazon.ca First Novel Award. He has worked for over twenty years in Canada’s not-for-profit sector, and is executive director of The Writers’ Union of Canada.