Authors: Fair Dealing In Copyright Law If Ill-Defined Is Prejudicial To Writers 08/12/2015 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)On the side of this week’s World Intellectual Property Organization Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR), the International Authors Forum held a side event on 7 December. Speakers underlined the importance of copyright for authors so that they can make a living from their writing, and warned about ill-defined fair use in copyright law. The 31st session of the SCCR is taking place from 7-11 December. The SCCR is discussing limitations and exceptions to copyright for educational and research institutions. A panel of authors at WIPO The side event, titled “The Business of Being an Author,” featured several authors, in particular writer and poet John Degen, executive director of the Writers’ Union of Canada and chair of the International Authors Forum. Degen and Bill Harnum, treasurer of the Canadian Copyright Institute, presented the results of a June 2015 study [pdf] by Pricewaterhousecoopers on the economic impacts of the Canadian Educational Sector’s Fair Dealing Guidelines, commissioned by Access Copyright, in Canada. The guidelines, according to the executive summary, were adopted by all public schools, some independent schools, and numerous post-secondary institutions. “These Guidelines authorize, as purported fair dealing, the copying of portions of works to the same extent as was permitted under the licenses previously issued by Access Copyright,” according to the study. As a result, “Many of the schools and institutions that adopted the Guidelines have stopped paying licensing fees for copying published works,” it said. The guidelines were established after Canada reformed its copyright law (Bill C-11 of 2012), according to Degen, under the fair dealing exception. The study said “fair dealing is a statutory exception to copyright infringement that allows the copying of copyright-protected works without permission of the owner of the copyright for certain specific, enumerated purposes.” The guidelines apply to pre-school, primary and secondary education, as well as post-secondary institutions, according to the study. Degan said income sources for authors in Canada are sales royalties, reading and appearance fees public lending rights, and copyright licensing. He added that the annual average net income for a writer was US$11,712, and in 2014, US$12,879. When inflation rates are applied, he said, the income has actually decreased by 27 percent. Fair dealing is so vaguely defined in the bill, according to Degen, that it had immediate negative consequences for Canadian authors. Schools went ahead and copied entire chapters, entire stories, poems, and entire articles. One of the key findings of the study, Harnum said, is that without licensing income, many Canadian publishers will not only reduce their content output, but many may choose to exit the educational publishing market. Degen said that although the bill’s intent was to save student money on books, it has not had the expected results, as education costs in Canada have raised in recent years, both in fees and in course packs. Maggie Gee, a writer and professor of creative writing at Bath Spa University, United Kingdom, said revenues for writers have dropped by 29 percent in the UK over the last decade. At this rate, she said, there are very few professional writers in the UK. She said she starting teaching creative writing in 2012 after decades of being a full time writer because she was worried about money. A number of professional novelists have joined the Bath Spa University because of the same circumstances, she added. Teaching does not help writing, she said, as writers need mental space to work. Image Credits: Catherine Saez Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Catherine Saez may be reached at email@example.com."Authors: Fair Dealing In Copyright Law If Ill-Defined Is Prejudicial To Writers" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.