Saturday, August 20, 2011

Writers Not So Happy with Reprographic Payment

Copy and paste this weblink and read the article in the Globe and Mail on education payments for copied material: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/opinion/heading-back-to-school-hope-youve-memorized-the-copyright-act/article2131989/.


I am a writer like John Degen, but my take is different.

About 75% of the money made from schools, colleges and universities goes to the large educational publishers. These eliminate royalties at the first step for writers, and substitute fee for service, so the publishers get 100% of the royalties when they sell their books to students. Over the years, this fee for service payment goes down because of inflation. Then they come at the end and pick up the entire royalties paid for copying.

Writers get a small payment from the repertoire class. Last year the baseline was $175. That's all. This does not comprise meaningful income. 80% of writers got less than the previous year's baseline of $612, also a figure that does not comprise meaningful income.

The point is that schools, colleges and universities think they are paying money to writers, but they are not. Writers get virtually nothing. Writers don't like this but the reprographic corporation primarily reflects the interests of large educational publishers even though the copying payment was introduced for writers.

I would say that any university that pays this money will be pretty unhappy to learn that the money does not go to writers, artists, creators and so on. But that is what happens with writers receiving about 10% of revenue - in a system that was designed to give us a financial lift for our copyrighted material.

Many universities and other educational institutions have refused to pay the new tariff and have instead chosen to appeal to the court. Most of Access Copyright's Statement of Financial Activities, has a large asset of over $100 million, most is these 'accounts receivable' that it so far can't bring in, and part is part of the $63 million in cash and cash equivalents. If writers were to get only 50% of this asset, then we could begin to say that writers get some financial benefit from our copyrighted work. That base payment of a very small $175 becomes about $2275 - not meaningful income for the lowest paid writers, but enough to make a mortgage payment with a little left over.

This is the writer's reality. Don't think that reprographic money gets to writers. It is less than 10%.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Don Meredith on what not to do

Don Meredith, blogger and Outdoor Writers of Canada active member, is not keen on the idea of creators seeking a better deal at Access Copyright -- not at this time anyway, and seemingly not as long as copyright matters are being debated or Professor Geist has opinions.  His recent thoughts on the question are here.  I'm sure we will take up his points before long, but meanwhile take a look. Comments are open.