Writers' Union of Canada: Flexible fair dealing legalizes theft

The Charlie Angus fair dealing motion has stirred up considerable anger from the Writers' Union of Canada. The organization's copyright committee is urging its members to write to their Members of Parliament to protest the motion, advising them to use speaking points that include equating flexible fair dealing with theft, claiming it will result in tens of millions in losses, and would constitute an attack on Canadian culture. Speaking points provided to members include:

Ӣ The expansion of fair dealing would legalize the theft of material under copyright because it would allow teachers and others in the educational sector to make multiple copies of our work without compensation.

Ӣ If the fair dealing expansion is broadened it would eliminate more than $30 million of income from Canadian writers, visual artists and publishers. Writers and artists in this country already suffer from low incomes and this would make it even more difficult for creators to earn a living.

Ӣ Governments in the past have encouraged the development of collectives like Access Copyright that collect fees for the secondary use of material under copyright and distribute it to creators and publishers. This was done to strengthen the culture in this country. The expansion of fair dealing would make it very difficult for Access Copyright to survive, and it would be an attack on Canadian culture.

Michael Geist is a law professor and the Canada Research Chair in Internet and e-commerce law at the University of Ottawa.