Canadian national organisation Access Copyright is warning creators and publishers that 2017 royalties could fall by as much as 55% due to a reduction in revenue from the educational sector.
Access Copyright represents tens of thousands of Canadian writers, visual artists and publishers and their works, to license the copying of content to educational institutions, businesses and governments, among others.
The organisation estimated the amount it pays to creators will fall from $11m to $5 next year, according to Canada's book trade monthly the Quill and Quire.
The drop in educational revenues for Access Copyright and the creators it supports is down to the introduction of an expanded definition for "fair dealing" in Canada's copyright laws. In 2012, the Supreme Court of Canada issued five rulings in a single day ultimately changing how fair dealing is assessed, meaning schools could rely more heavily on fair dealing for photocopying that takes place on campus and in the classroom. With licences becoming less necessary, the result is less money from Canadian schools to copyright holders.
Roanie Levy, executive director at Access Copyright, told the Quill and Quire that its 2017 payout to creators would be 80% less than it distributed in 2013, when copyright holders received $23.5m.
Levy said: "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.
"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. It’s a death by a thousand cuts.”
Levy said Access Copyright is working with the educational sector to explore options beyond the traditional blanket licence. “What is absolutely critical for us is that we develop something that meets the needs of the educational institutions,” she said.