‘Free’ or stolen?

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Attention: Paul Butler, Bill Rowe, Ed Riche, Lisa Moore, Michael Crummey and Russell Wangersky.

Because The Telegram’s MUN columnist Andy Veilleux attends a school of higher learning, he contends that it should be able to download copies of all your books, in full or in part, free of charge.

He reports that Access Copyright, representing authors in Canada, should not be expecting universities to renew their Access Copyright licences.

Not all universities are as unethical as Memorial University.

The ethical universities have decided to renew their licences to ensure that salaried professors who photocopy books for class use, properly remunerate writers for their work.

This does not sit well with Mr. Veilleux, because “students who grew up with free (read pirated) music, movies and books are certainly not going to be sympathetic.”

Access Copyright is not some obscure multinational organization that is profit-oriented.

Access Copyright is a Canadian, not-for-profit organization with a board of directors made up of creators, arts organizations and publishers.

The board directs staff to administer a portion of the intellectual rights of authors.

Unfortunately, when the federal government enacted the new law concerning copyright, it neglected to define “fair use” and some institutions of higher learning are interpreting this to mean that as long as it is used for educational purposes, uncontrolled photocopying and uncontrolled course-pack creation is sanctioned by law. Writers need not be compensated.

What writers want, through Access Copyright, is for those organizations who in the past agreed it was ethical to remunerate writers for their intellectual property, to continue to do so.

Most writers I know and publish received an annual payment of less than $500 through Access Copyright, for five or six books.

There is no corporate grab from Access Copyright, as Veilleux contends. This organization is one of the leanest, non-profit organizations in the country.

It simply wants continued modest remunerations for each of the thousands of authors whose intellectual property will be pirated by students, university lecturers and professors for use in the classroom.


Garry Cranford

publisher, Flanker Press Ltd.

St. John’s

Geographic location: Canada

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Recent comments

  • Lisa Goddard
    May 02, 2013 - 10:33

    Canadian copyright law has changed significantly since the inception of Access Copyright. Most classroom use is now covered under "fair dealing". Memorial University spends more than 4 million dollars a year to purchase and license books and journals. That money comes from taxpayers, and goes directly to publishers and authors. A majority of Canadian universities have refused to sign the AC agreement. For more information on why, I'd recommend the blog of lawyer Michael Geist, particularly the post entitled "Access Copyright's Desperate Declaration of War Against Fair Dealing".

  • crista
    April 26, 2013 - 12:45

    Interesting book-title danny williams. THE WAR WITH OTTAWA the inside story by a Hired Gun BILL ROWE. FLANKER PRESS.