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Access Copyright projecting 55 per cent drop in 2017 royalties

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Access Copyright is warning creators and publishers to brace for a significant decrease in their royalty payments next year.

The non-profit organization, which collects revenues on behalf of Canadian copyright holders, estimates the amount it pays to creators to drop to $5 million in 2017, from $11 million this year – a 55 per cent decrease that is being directly attributed to a reduction in revenue from the educational sector.

In 2012, the Supreme Court of Canada amended the country’s copyright law, adding a “fair-dealing” provision for the purposes of education, parody, and satire. As a result of the way many educational institutions have defined the new fair dealing rules, schools are paying less money to copyright holders. Roanie Levy, Access Copyright’s executive director, says the organization’s 2017 payout will be 80 per cent less than it distributed in 2013, a year when copyright holders received $23.5 million. “It took some years, but we’re now feeling the impact, 100 per cent, of the decisions of educational institutions to rely on their self-interpretation of fair dealing instead of paying creators,” says Levy.

Levy expects educational publishers and content creators, such as authors, across the board will be affected most by the reduction. “When you consider the scope and size of these industries, and these businesses, and the income of creators, you quickly see how damaging this kind of decline is,” she says. “It’s a death by a thousand cuts.” Although Levy refers to the current situation as an “impasse,” she says Access Copyright is working with the educational sector to better understand its needs, and is testing out a transactional model that could potentially replace the traditional blanket licence: “What is absolutely critical for us is that we develop something that meets the needs of the educational institutions.”