April/May 2016

Concordia is first Quebec university to use Get It Now!

Concordia University is the first Quebec educational institution to start using Get It Now, which was created by the U.S. Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) and is made available in Quebec by Copibec. It has already been adopted by about 350 postsecondary institutions throughout the U.S. Get It Now gives CEGEPs and universities access to millions of scientific articles, most of which can be copied under the Copibec licences issued to the education sector. 

With this service, CEGEP and university libraries have immediate access to content from leading publishers at a reasonable cost. It’s a cutting-edge solution that is integrated into the library’s catalogue and makes it easier to order articles from publications that the institution does not subscribe to. Get It Now includes a dashboard that helps librarians monitor purchase volumes and generate real-time reports.

This new partnership with CCC enables Copibec to expand its service offerings for postsecondary institutions. “We’re very pleased to offer Quebec universities innovative solutions that complement our copying licences by combining flexibility and efficiency,” explained Frédérique Couette, Copibec’s Interim Executive Director. She also congratulated Concordia University for respecting the rights of creators. 

Would you like more information about Get It Now? Please contact our licensing team:
514-288-1664 / 1-800-717-2022

Royalty payments to visual artists 

We will soon be making a royalty (licence fee) payment to visual artists. The total of $424,325 set aside for visual artists came from a 3% assessment on most Copibec licences to make up for missing data about artistic works in copy logs submitted by users. This year’s royalty payment will be shared among 1,624 visual artists.

Each eligible artist will receive an amount of $156.77 if at least one of their works was reproduced in a book (including exhibition catalogues), magazine or newspaper published in Quebec between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2014. If 7 or more works were reproduced in books, newspapers or magazines during the same period, you will receive a $196.21 bonus.

What’s new in SAMUEL?

The Entrepôt numérique d’œuvres artistiques contemporaines (ENOAC) is a digital warehouse of contemporary art works that recently made more than 2,500 works available to the education sector via our SAMUEL platform. Whether you teach visual arts, performing arts, jewellery design, art history, etc., you can browse through hundreds of images to see the latest from contemporary artists. 

This unique catalogue gives you the opportunity to discover creations by artists such as François Barbeau, Germain Perron, Karol Proulx, Pol Turgeon, Marianne Chevalier, Kino Guérin, plus many more! You can look at set designs, costume design sketches, drawings, engravings, photos, sculptures, illustrations, jewellery, stamps, and the list goes on!

SAMUEL contains a wide range of resources. Enrich your experience by taking advantage of articles from Quebec arts and culture magazines or excerpts from books on art or artists. To find out more about the content available on SAMUEL, view our visual arts video in French or our general video in English on Copibec’s YouTube channel.

The following publishers were also added to SAMUEL recently: arts and culture magazine Circuit - musiques contemporaines, Éditions Sylvain Harvey and Éditions Liber. As a result, SAMUEL now offers titles such as: Code pour une éthique globale by Rodrigue Tremblay, Réinventer l’anthropologie? by Francine Saillant and Consommation et image de soi by Benoît Duguay, which are all published by Éditions Liber. The offerings from Éditions Sylvain Harvey include works such as: Objectif Nord, le Québec au-delà du 49e parallèle by Serge Bouchard and Jean Désy, Québec, berceau de l’Amérique française by David Mendel and Luc-Antoine Couturier, as well as Robert Piché : aux commandes du destin by Pierre Cayouette. 

These works have been added to the more than 20,000 titles already available on the platform. 

Don’t forget that our participating partners are always adding content to SAMUEL, which means you can find new material there almost every day!

Copibec appeals its case against Université Laval

Copibec, together with authors, publishers and foreign copyright licensing agencies, filed a motion in Quebec Superior Court on November 10, 2014 for authorization to launch a class action on behalf of thousands of authors and publishers from Quebec, the rest of Canada and other countries around the world because their copyright-protected works have been copied without permission by Université Laval. The motion was heard on June 9 and 10, 2015 by Justice Beaupré. On February 26, 2016, he announced his decision refusing to authorize Copibec’s class action.

Copibec considers the ruling unfounded and has decided to appeal the court's decision. In the meantime, Université Laval filed a motion with the Quebec Court of Appeal to have Copibec’s appeal denied even before the copyright agency’s arguments had been heard. Nevertheless, Copibec and all the other parties involved in the lawsuit have not given up and will continue their battle to have the value of their rights recognized. We also want Université Laval to apply reasonable rules of governance and acknowledge the legitimacy of the royalties paid for the use of copyrighted content. Even though educational institutions are now in the habit of using and making copies of copyright-protected material, we need to remember that “Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author”. 

In response to a question from the Coalition Avenir Québec party during the proceedings of the Quebec Committee on Culture and Education, Éric Bauce, Executive Vice Rector of Université Laval, stated in September 2015 that in a context of budget cuts, they had realized they could do the same work themselves at a lower cost. But in reality, the university is not doing Copibec’s job of collecting royalties, identifying copyright owners and redistributing funds. To achieve its so-called cost savings (see our March 8 press release in French), Université Laval has simply stopped paying the royalties owed to authors when their works are used during courses. 

Under the university’s internal policy concerning the use of third-party works, up to 10% of a copyright-protected work or an entire chapter can be copied without having to pay royalties. The professor can choose whichever option is more advantageous. On an annual basis, Université Laval copies more than 11 million pages from over 7,000 works. How can such extensive use be considered legitimate without paying the people who actually created the content?
United Nations, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 27, 1948

Another disastrous decision

Even though World Book and Copyright Day paid tribute to copyright this year, recent rulings have continued to weaken copyright in Canada. A recent example is the decision by the Copyright Board concerning the royalty rate for elementary and high schools in provinces other than Quebec for the years 2010 to 2015. 

In its decision, the Board chose to ignore most of the photocopies made, instead concluding that the millions of copies made by schools – representing the equivalent of nearly a million books each year – were worth only $2.46 per student per year for the 2010-2012 period and $2.41 per year for 2013-2015. In 2009, the Board had determined that the tariff payable to Access Copyright by schools was $4.81 per student. This is therefore a 50% pay cut for the creators and their publishers.

Decline in royalties paid to rightsholders

Although Copibec has been able to increase its royalty distribution frequency after deploying a more complete and more efficient database as part of its Savia copyright licensing system in 2012, our revenues have fallen since 2013-2014, as shown by the chart below. 

This decline has obviously affected our payouts and will have an even greater impact in 2016-2017 when the total estimated royalties payable will be $11.5 million. There was already a slight drop in 2015-2016, which was a lump-sum (repertoire) payment year. Traditionally, total royalty distribution during lump-sum payment years is higher. That decrease could become an underlying trend if the situation remains unchanged. 

Since the adoption of the Copyright Modernization Act in 2012, it has become much more challenging to convince educational institutions that it is important to pay fair compensation to creators and their publishers when their works are used for education purposes. Despite the fact that the legislation’s fair dealing provisions now include education, it is not true that all in-class use is exempt from royalty payments to authors, visual artists and publishers. Such large-scale use of millions of copied pages every year without compensation can’t be justified!

Increase in administration fees

As a direct consequence of the decline in revenues, our administration fees were raised slightly from 14% to 15% on April 1. Copibec is a not-for-profit organization whose operations are funded by the administration fees it collects on the licences issued to the users of copyrighted works. Despite the lower revenues, the work being done by our organization has not been reduced. Whether we are distributing royalties, organizing information sessions, fighting legal battles or playing a role in promoting copyright, there is still plenty to be done and our team (which has been downsized) is working even harder while continuing to focus on quality. 

Data collection in schools

The second data collection period (December to March) has ended for schools at the preschool, elementary and high school levels. So far, nearly 3,500 copy log entries have been submitted concerning excerpts from copyrighted works during the period. That number will increase because our survey and reporting team is currently entering the data received on paper forms.

Since the start of the school year, about 5,000 copy log entries have been recorded by schools. Digital copying – and excerpts displayed on smartboards, in particular – accounted for 20% of those entries. Our figures show that the smartboards were being used mainly for youth literature. 

Music teachers have been especially active in 2016: we have noted a higher number of copy log entries for sheet music and song lyrics. We look forward to meeting with those teachers during the upcoming convention of the Fédération des associations des musiciens éducateurs du Québec (FAMEQ). That convention will be even more important for us because in recent months we have been reaching out to private music schools. In the lead-up to the FAMEQ convention, we would like to send out a special thank-you to the music teachers who have been participating in the data collection process so that royalties can be paid to copyright owners!

Look for us at your convention

We recently attended the convention of the Association Québécoise des Utilisateurs de l’Ordinateur au Primaire et au Secondaire (AQUOPS) and the convention of the Association québécoise des intervenantes et des intervenants en formation générale des adultes (AQIFGA) to present SAMUEL and explain the details of the agreement between Copibec and the Quebec ministry of education.

In June, we will be in Quebec City at the convention of the Association québécoise de pédagogie collégiale. We’re also preparing an Adobe presentation on SAMUEL for the members of the Regroupement des bibliothèques collégiales du Québec in May.

Be sure to come and say hello to Copibec’s representatives at your convention!

Meanwhile, our representatives are continuing to tour schools and school boards across the province. Give us a call and we’ll be there! We can come in person or organize a virtual meeting. Don’t hesitate to invite us!

Copyright news from Canada and beyond

ANEL wants digital books excluded from publishing legislation 

Canada – In its memorandum (in French), the Association nationale des éditeurs de livres (ANEL) said that the Quebec government should update the legislation concerning the book publishing chain (Bill 51) without including digital books. According to ANEL, it would be counterproductive to include digital books because the digital market’s development will be unpredictable and players not closely associated with the book publishing chain could potentially be involved. At the same time, the publishers’ group asked the government to refrain from reopening the legislation because demands from various parties could end up being detrimental for the industry. ANEL also called for stricter regulations for Quebec book quotas in bookstores and tighter rules about book distribution.

Read the article (in French) in Le Devoir.

Writers’ Union of Canada unhappy with Copyright Board 

Canada – The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC) is extremely disappointed with the Copyright Board's recent decision to cut in half the royalty rate payable by K-12 schools in provinces other than Quebec for the copyright-protected works they copy. TWUC also pointed out that the tariff decision excluded nearly 90% of works, which means that most authors will not receive the royalties they are entitled to. The Union believes this decision is further proof of the damage caused by the 2012 changes when the Copyright Act was “modernized.” TWUC is calling on the relevant federal departments (Canadian Heritage and Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada) to prioritize copyright reform, which is scheduled for 2017.

Canadian publishers criticize the Copyright Board’s decision

Canada – Kate Edwards, Executive Director of the Association of Canadian Publishers, believes the Copyright Board’s recent ruling on the tariff for copying in K-12 schools is unfair to Canadian creators. In an open letter to the Toronto Star, she explained that the new royalty rates exclude 97% of the content copied from books in Canadian elementary and secondary schools (excluding Quebec). As a result, Canadian authors and publishers have lost $30 million in compensation. The Association said Canadian authors and publishers are ready and willing to support educators by providing quality content, but they need to be paid to do so.

Read the letter from Kate Edwards in The Star.

Colleges/universities outside Quebec snub Copyright Board hearings

Canada – Representatives from the postsecondary education sector in provinces other than Quebec were noticeably absent from the recent hearings held by the Copyright Board on the copying tariff.  In his blog, John Degen, novelist, poet and Executive Director of The Writers’ Union of Canada, has denounced that behaviour. He thinks the empty desk policy applied by the colleges and universities sends a clear message to cultural workers: “set whatever price you want for all that copying we do; we won’t pay it.” By taking advantage of “fair dealing” provisions, they can refuse to pay the authors and publishers whose material is copied in coursepacks.

Is yoga the creative expression of an idea?

United States – Are yoga poses copyright-protected? Bikram Choudhury, born in India and now living in the U.S., thinks they should be. He is the founder of Bikram Yoga, a series of 26 yoga poses that has been popularized around the world. However, a California court recently decided otherwise, ruling that yoga poses are an idea but not the expression of an idea. The Court therefore supported an important copyright principle, namely that only the expression of an idea can be copyrighted, not the idea itself.

View the video from the Copyright Clearance Center.

Batman, unexpected copyright defender

As Batman so sagely told Robin, In our well-ordered society, protection of private property is essential.” – Sandra Ikuta, 9th U.S. Circuit Court Judge

United States – DC Comics certainly wouldn’t have expected their famous hero to be quoted in a U.S. court of appeals in a case involving a “motorized character” from the iconic Batman TV show and movies. The Court ruled that the Batmobile had enough distinct attributes to be considered a character that can’t be replicated without permission. The decision was made in a lawsuit by DC Comics against Mark Towle, who produced and sold replicas of the Batmobile. The case will not be heard on appeal by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Read the article in The Star.

Canada’s fair dealing provisions are a poor example for China

Hong Kong – The Hong Kong government has withdrawn its bill to amend copyright legislation in an effort to fight digital piracy. The bill was attacked by an alliance of opponents, including many who wanted the scope of exceptions widened to include fair dealing provisions inspired by the Canadian legislation and its concept of user-generated content. The Hong Kong Intellectual Property Department opposed that principle, specifying that Canada was an outlier and that there was no international consensus on how to define user-generated content. In fact, Hugh Stephens, copyright specialist and former Canadian diplomat in Asia, blogged that Canada was as an example to be avoided. He explained eloquently that adding such a questionable exception is not a good idea elsewhere in the world.


United States – “Soft kitty. Warm kitty. Little ball of fur...” Fans of the hit TV comedy The Big Bang Theory will no doubt recognize these infuriatingly catchy lyrics, which have become a running gag on the show and led to merchandise spinoffs. But Sheldon Cooper’s favourite lullaby is now involved in a copyright infringement lawsuit. The daughters and heirs of Edith Newlin, who was the author of the original poem, have accused series producers Warner Bros Entertainment of using Warm Kitty without their consent and instead crediting producer Bill Prady as the author. 

Read the article on IP Whiteboard.

Grumpy Cat sues coffee maker over copyright

United States – Grumpy Cat, the multimillionaire Internet star, has good reason to frown. The cat’s owners claim that coffee company Grenade Beverage did not respect the terms of an agreement signed with Grumpy Cat Limited allowing the creation of a coffee product called Grumpy Cat Grumppuccino. They also accuse the company of creating a new line of products and a website under the Grumpy Cat name despite the owners’ refusal. Grumpy Cat now has to hope that the California district court judges aren’t allergic to cats!

Read the article from CNBC.

Who’s behind The Siver Times news aggregator?

Plagiarism and online advertising can be a lucrative mix. What could be easier for a site than publishing plagiarized content at a low cost to maximize clickthrough and generate revenue? That’s the technique used by The site translates without permission a variety of news articles originally published in Canadian French-language media, including La Presse, Le Journal de Montréal and La Voix de l’Est. Hosted on an anonymous U.S. server, the site uses fake journalist names and fake contact information to distribute content copied from other websites. Unfortunately, this case illustrates how difficult it can be to fight online copyright infringement.

Read the article (in French) by the Fédération professionnelle des journalistes du Québec.

Selfies by animals!

Who owns the copyright for selfies produced by animals? The question may seem silly but the courts recently had to make a decision after Naruto, a macaque monkey in Indonesia, used a photographer’s unattended camera to take selfies. David Slater, nature photographer and owner of the device, sued Wikipedia for distributing the photos free of charge under creative commons licences. In its defence, Wikipedia claimed that no one owned the copyright to the images because they were taken by an animal. 

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) brought the case to U.S. federal court in order to have Naruto recognized as the copyright owner. However, the court’s decision in January 2016 was not in Naruto’s favour. Will PETA continue its fight for animal copyright?

Read the article in The Globe and Mail.

What does the © symbol mean?

The © symbol is used worldwide to indicate that a work is protected by copyright. But many people mistakenly believe that any content not accompanied by the symbol is in the public domain. That’s totally wrong. Under the Berne Convention, works are automatically protected by copyright as soon as they are created. Nevertheless, adding the © symbol is a good idea when it’s used effectively. 

Read the article on

© © ©

Coordinator: Caroline Lacroix 
Contributors: Frédérique Couette, Rose-Marie Lafrance, Cécile Gascon, Kevin Charron, Magalie Dufresne, and Nicolas Boudreault
Translator: Brian Colwill 

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