Good news this World Book Day

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      Not just a throw to some relic object, paper books have reason to celebrate this World Book Day (April 23).

      According to BookNet Canada’s sales tracking service, BNC SalesData, the sale of print books went up last year. The consumer study indicated that e-books might not be the way of the future, as sales remained relatively steady, but adult colouring books just might be--four of the reported number one bestsellers in 2015 were this new creative trend.

      From a more global perspective, the Montreal-based UNESCO Institute for Statistics published a report last month on the global flow of cultural goods in the digital age that also indicated the import of books in Canada as on the rise. The trade of cultural goods doubled between 2004-2013 despite a global recession and a massive shift among consumers of movies and music towards web-based services. The report highlighted Canada as the second biggest importer of books and press (which includes printed books, newspapers, periodicals and magazines—e-books are documented in another category) with a recorded growth rate of 4.28 percent in 2013.

      World Book Day, or World Book and Copyright Day, was established on April 23, 1995 in Paris by UNESCO (the constitution of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). The international day promotes reading, publishing and copyright, all areas experiencing radical changes in a digital age.  

      Copyright in Canada has also had a big year.

      It was announced last year with the federal budget that an amendment to the Copyright Act would extend the protection of certain sound recordings and performers’ performances from 50 to 70 years from first publication. This came as good news to many musicians like Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell, and Anne Murray, whose early works were about to enter the public domain.

      A possible similar extension to all other works of art was announced in the fall. If the Trans Pacific Partnership is implemented, the term of 50 years plus life of author would be adjusted to a new term of 70 years plus the life of author. The details of the TPP is vast and detailed, adding to what is already a complex Act, but as far as intellectual property is concerned, it sides with what the United States, Europe and Australia currently function under. University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist does not believe the change will be retroactive, meaning works already in the public domain will remain there.

      Proposed and enacted updates to the Copyright Act in the last year have not been without controversy. The delay in works entering the public domain has been criticized as a restriction on creativity, ultimately costing Canadian consumers. However, from the perspective of Canadian artists, these amendments ensure royalties for now two decades longer.

      Happy World Book and Copyright Day, Canada!