Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Does Canada's copyright exception for education use but their educational publishers at risk?

When good weather comes, that is when I catch up on listening to podcasts. I had saved this episode from Beyond the Book for months.  I'm glad to have finally given it a listen.

Flag of Canada (leaf)At the 2018 Frankfurt Book Fair,  Michael Healy. the executive director of international relations at the Copyright Clearance Center, interviewed Michiel Kolman, the then president of the International Publishers AssociationDuring that interview, Kolman mentioned the change made to Canadian copyright law in 2012, which provided more exceptions for educational use.  He noted that this change had a negative impact on educational publishers in Canada.  Some publishers have gone out of business.  Some education authors are choosing to publish in other countries.  The result could be that schools may need to use textbooks from outside of Canada. Kolman said:
I think another important aspect there is that Canadian students will not have access to Canadian textbooks that reflect the heritage, as they say in Canada, in other country, the culture – of their own country? It could very well be, if we don’t do anything there, that it’s the Texas Board of Education who’s more or less determining what textbooks are going to be used in Canada. That’s something that should not happen.
 In the U.S., we know that the number of textbooks purchased by the State of Texas can give them undue influence over what is in those textbooks and the textbooks used in other states.  It really stood out to me that Texas could also influence what as being used in Canada, if Canadian schools begin to look elsewhere for their textbook resources.

But are things truly dire in Canada because of Copyright?  The National Copyright Unit in Australia has followed this situation and determined that the answer is "no." They believe that Canadian publishers had not responded to market forces, including:
...open access publishing, student preferences for second-hand books, reduced spending on new curriculum, new media players such as Google and Apple...
While I cannot sit here and truly determine which point of view is correct, what I do know is that this is being watched by people outside of Canada. That to me says something about how important it is.

Earlier this month, the Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage issued its report entitled "Shifting Paradigms", which contains 22 recommendations for changing the current copyright law.  In his article, "Copyright Advocates Applaud Canada’s Parliamentary Review of Modernization Act," Porter Anderson lists 10 of the recommendations which Access Canada believes "will foster positive, sustainable conditions for Canada’s writers, artists and publishers, and benefit students and educators at every level by encouraging continued investment in high-quality Canadian content.”

When will this all move through the Canadian Parliament?  I don't know. But I'll be keeping my eyes open for news about it.

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