Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Creators -- Payback claim registration is today

The size of the Payback payment you could receive next fall will depend on the record Access Copyright assembles for you this summer -- and the deadline for your entry is today.  It can be done in much less than a day if you are motivated, so it's worth getting started even today.  Access Copyright has been known to extend deadlines too, so you might get away with being a little late.... but don't count on it.  Go to Access Copyright here and look for the Payback link that will come up.

Update, June 2.  Access Copyright will continue to accept paper-based submissions for its Payback program until June 15. Details here.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Writers Union votes on collective licensing reform

After a long and searching discussion, the Annual General Meeting of the Writers' Union in Toronto passed the following resolution by an overwhelming majority this weekend.  It is hoped that other creators groups will take up the proposal for their own consideration

Recognizing that collective licensing of copyright is a vital interest of the creator community, but that creators receive an inadequate share of the revenues of Access Copyright and are unable to control how the copyright income raised in their name is managed;
And recognizing that key differences in the copyright interests of publishers and creators will always prevent Access Copyright from fully and effectively representing creators’ copyright interests;
Moved that a solution is an operational separation of creators’ and publishers’ interests in collective licensing, for instance, by the British model of a creator-run distribution collective that controls and distributes the half of collective revenues that belong to creators;
And moved that National Council direct an investigation as to how a significant reform of collective licensing in Canada can be brought about at the earliest possible moment.

The union also affirmed that it will continue to work with Access Copyright and other partners in the all-important fight to defend intellectual property and the principles of collective licensing.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Paying for news online - what's the AC connection?

The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times do it.  Does that mean it can work for the Victoria Times-Colonist and the Montreal Gazette?

Following the Times' lead, the two Postmedia-owned papers are testing the idea that maybe people will not be able to go on getting their news free, according to the Halifax Chronicle-Herald.  After a certain number of online reads a month, users will be asked to pay for online access to the two papers' sites.

It's hard to deny the rationality of that.   Reporting news costs money, and who should carry the freight but the users? The internet is free as in speech, not necessarily free as in beer. The question for the Gazette and the Times-Colonist is, not to put too fine a point on it, will people pay for lousy newspapers?

The Gazette has long been in class-action litigation with Montreal writers whom it would not pay for online uses of their work. Many leading Montreal freelance journalists will not work for the Gazette.  Something similar recently happened at the Halifax Chronicle-Herald: several of its leading columnists have been forced out for refusing to surrender their rights to their own work.  (Follow that story at HoweNow.)  In effect, newspapers are attempting to collect for online copyrights even as they deny the same rights to the writers who provide used to provide the lively local content and opinion that makes a local paper worth reading.

The newspaper industry's campaign to undermine copyright is a creator-copyright issue, obviously.  If we had a creator-centred copyright collective in Canada, the folly of the newspaper industry in attempting simultaneously to defend copyright (theirs) and making war on copyright (creators') would be an important news story in itself.

But at Access Copyright, publishers, including newspaper publishers, hold half the board seats, and so Access Copyright cannot and will not defend copyright when it is creators who hold copyright and publishers who threaten it.  Who speaks for creators?  Why cannot creators spend their own money to defend their copyright interests?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Payback Deadline next Tuesday

Payments to creators who have affiliated* with Access Copyright are related to the size of the repertoire of works that they have made available for copying.

Once a year, creators are invited to update the account of the amount of material they have published -- through the Payback system at Access Copyright.

This year's deadline is Tuesday May 31.  We recommend creators complete the Payback process.

We certainly have issues with Payback -- and we'd be glad to publish creators' queries and comments here.    But if you are not "in" the Payback process, the money you are entitled to will go to someone else.

Payback starts at the Access Copyright website. Look for the Payback icon or logo, and click on it to enter.  There's a username and password to negotiate, and then you are in.

What you mostly need is a piece of paper to calculate the number of books or book contributions, magazine articles, journal articles, and newspaper articles you had published in each given year, and the total number of pages in each of those categories.  When you have that assembled, enter it in the online form.  No vast bibliographies, no ISBNS and ISSNS.

*"Affiliated."  We plan to start a glossary of the language of Access Copyright.  Watch for it, or suggest entries.