Canadian copyright collecting agency subverting open debate on copyright

Access Copyright, the Canadian author's collecting society (a group that collects money from libraries for book lending and gives it to authors) is using its members' money to sabotage an enormously popular consultation on the future of Canadian copyright.

Previous to this consultation, the Canadian government twice tried to ram through restrictive, US-style copyright rules, refusing to meet with Canadian creators, net-users, libraries, educators, publishers or musicians. Now, after hundreds of thousands of Canadians came forward demanding public consultations and a balanced, made-in-Canada answer to copyright in the information age, Access Copyright has responded with an hysterical, dishonest call to its members to condemn the consultation and any notion of protecting privacy, access, fair dealing and other public rights in copyright.

The broadside includes this remarkable condemnation of "users" of information -- that is, readers, writers, teachers, scholars, fans, government, students -- "It's a simple fact that users outnumber us. But Canadian users involved in the online debate are so adept at leveraging the Internet and social networks to their advantage, there's a danger that your voices as Canadian creators and publishers will be drowned out by the chatter. Your interests need to be expressed as forcefully as possible, and it's up to you to get involved to make that happen."

These are the same people who launched the ill-starred "Captain Copyright" campaign, using writers' money to produce embarrassing, half-witted comic books that were meant to indoctrinate children, inculcating them with fear of using authors' works in their own creations.

After the Captain Copyright fiasco, it seemed that Access Copyright would settle down and look at a balanced approach. But recent times have seen an upswing in loony, toxic copyright maximalism from the organization, including a recent bid to collect money for out-of-copyright public domain materials.

As Michael Geist says, "So AC claims that the public is trying to deprive them of their livelihood, while they actually try to get the public to support their livelihood by charging for things that doesn't even belong in their repertoire. Hard to believe that users are now characterized as powerful and adept at controlling the debate. All the more reason to encourage people to use and make their voice heard."

As a Canadian author, Access Copyright is supposed to represent my interests in the Canadian copyright debate. Instead, they are setting out to undermine the first glimmer of sanity in Canadian copyright policy in three governments -- and using my money to do it. For shame.

Copyright Debate Takes Aim at Your Livelihood


  1. …US-style copyright rules,… like say, 17 USC 109? ‘Cause in the U.S., once a library has bought a book, they can lend it to whomever you want without additional payments.

  2. Just to show how much, er, ‘respect’ AC has for authors, they seem to feel that they need to supply a template for the authors to use.

    It’s like they think that authors, since they hardly ever write, wouldn’t be able to come up with creative, original material for tor express their ideas.

    While I’m at it, quoting from the link:
    “When someone reproduces my work for free, it destroys the market for it, and I suffer the consequences.”

    So ONE PERSON has the power to destroy a whole market!

    OK, I want a million, no a BILLION DOLLARS! in unmarked bills, or so help me I’ll shoot this market!

    Just leave the money behind the hot water pipes, third washroom along, Victoria Station.

  3. I’m steadily growing to hate the word “user.” If they think we’re vampires, they should just call us vampires. It’s sexier, anyway.

  4. Oh captain copyright is there anything you and your magical flying snake won’t do for your corporate overlords?

  5. Hmm. Apparently reproducing a work for free on the internet destroys the market for it. Seeing as how Cory has released a ton of his stuff for free through CC licenses, I really have to wonder how it’s going for him living in penury under a bridge. Because, otherwise, how could he be making a livelihood if people can get his stuff for free? Does he write on ripped-up cardboard boxes using the blood of angry rats he’s beaten to death?

  6. At school for illustration we had a pro come in who told us all about Access Copyright:

    “They like collect $$$ from everyone and put it in a big pot, then split it evenly among all their members. When you get your first thing published, join and you get the same $$$ as someone who wrote dozens of books LOL! FREE MONEY!”

  7. You made my day when I came across this post and recognized my snake cartoon looking over Captain Copyright’s shoulder! Jeff ‘The Wizard of Draws’ Bucchino

  8. @anon #2,

    Actually, AC is the Canadian equivalent of (american) CCC, created at the same time because of the evils of photocopiers.

  9. #9- Well in the U.S., there is no “Public lending right,” for books, so CCC only licenses the COPYING of material.

  10. Heh.

    Just for fun, I read the Access Copyright website’s disclaimer page, where it warns you not to do anything it tells you to do on the front page.


    This, at least seems to be sound advice.

  11. The cheques that Cory and other Canadian authors get each year as compensation for libraries loaning their books for free (and presumably destroying the market for them) come from the Public Lending Right. PLC has dutifully portioned out an ever-diminishing fund for a couple of decades now, and whether or not you agree with the basic moral argument of its purpose, they seem to be able to do it reasonably efficiently. Authors are paid in proportion to the number of copies of their books that are held in a sample of public libraries across the country, and while the payments are not as large as they used to be, many writers probably receive more from the PLC than they do in royalties from their publishers.

    Access Copyright is the hazy NGO that taxes photocopiers and theoretically gives a similar payment for “legitimate” copying. I’ve never known any author who’s received a penny from it. Anyone?

  12. I wouldn’t be starting out as an American writer today if I didn’t think I could earn a living at it, thanks to those “restrictive, US-style copyright rules,” the foundation of which was laid in our Constitution. Three cheers for those! That said, our libraries don’t charge people to take books out, so why should I expect to get royalties from them? That seems like robbery to me.

    Odd, how views can differ on either side of the border.

  13. #12- Okay, I (posts #2 and #10) stand corrected. AC IS the Canadian equivalent of the CCC. But that means that Corey is wrong that they are the ones administering PLR payments.

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