Copyright Lobbyists Cry Foul Over Court Loss, Vows More Lobbying

The Access Copyright court decision means the loss of a monopoly. Lobbyists are furious and vow to reverse this situation with a massive lobbying campaign.

Late last month, we reported on a major court decision regarding Access Copyright and the mandatory tariff. In short, the court ruled that Access Copyright cannot demand mandatory tariffs from educational institutes. The education breathed a major sigh of relief over that part of the decision because the tariff rates simply kept growing out of control to the point where it became impossible to budget for the year. The decision means that Access Copyright now has to negotiate in good faith what the rates will be. It also means that the Access Copyright monopoly has finally been cracked.

Of course, if you thought that the copyright industry would simply take this court decision lying down, you really don’t know the copyright industry. That monopoly raked in hundreds of millions and they aren’t exactly keen on giving up that gravy train so easily. As it turns out, they are now opening up their massive lobbying war chests and calling on all their copyright lobbyists partners to reach into their deep pockets to initiate a massive lobbying campaign with the Canadian government. From Publishers Weekly:

The Association of Canadian Publishers (ACP) this week said that Canada’s “copyright framework is broken” after an appeals court dealt Canadian publishers and authors a major setback in a closely watched copyright case.

“Through Access Copyright, Canadian publishers have participated in the Copyright Board’s multi-year tariff process in good faith, and with an expectation of fair and reasonable compensation for the use of their content,” said ACP executive director Kate Edwards. “The Court of Appeal’s decision on mandatory tariffs makes future engagement in this process futile, and leaves small and medium-sized rightsholders in the untenable position of pursuing compliance on their own, rather than through their collective.

In its release, the ACP is calling on legislators to move to “correct market damage and provide a policy framework that supports future investment in Canadian writing and publishing.” And it is urging the education sector “to come back to the table,” and negotiate with authors and publishers.

The reaction is not really all that surprising, really. So, it seems likely that these organizations and their corporate partners will be working the halls of government with the best lobbyists money can buy.

From the government side of things, there is the fact that there is a minority government. Under normal circumstances, that would mean time is very limited because any piece of legislation that isn’t passed by the end of the government means that those bills die on the orderpaper. On the other hand, these are not normal times. With COVID-19 and the economy largely on lock down, there really is no appetite to trigger an election in the midst of this global pandemic. As a result, this technically buys time to push through less savoury legislation.

Sooner or later, lawmakers will find themselves with a decision: listen to corporate lobbyists or refuse to throw the education sector under the bus. It would be interesting to see which side lawmakers will ultimately take when it comes time to debate this – and this debate will be one lobbyists will be sure to push onto the agenda, that’s for sure.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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