Teachers Paying the Price of Access Copyright Lawsuit

As Access Copyright continues to wage their war to maintain their grip on Canadian education, teachers find themselves paying the price.

Schools have been “randomly selected” in the discovery process of Access Copyright $50 million lawsuit. In an era of the Doug Ford cuts, many schools are already severely cash strapped. The Access Copyright lawsuit really doesn’t help at all on the financial front.

Of course, the dollars that goes in and out of schools is only one angle of this story. In addition to the dollar value, there is also the human cost. The “randomly selected” schools that were selected are also having to bear the added workload of satisfying the court order. In all, 300 schools were selected in the process. Now, teachers in schools affected by Access Copyright are having to cough up nearly 7 years worth of printed material. From the Winnipeg Free Press:

Teachers in several elementary and high schools in the province are required to gather and photocopy texts and resource materials that have been used in their classrooms since 2013, as part of a legal battle that has stretched on for nearly two years in the Federal Court.

Eight schools in the Pembina Trails School Division are among those in 65 divisions across the country that have been randomly selected to provide curriculum material to the court as a way to determine how schools use copyrighted work. Much of the task has fallen to teachers and other educational staff, said Bob Mauthe, president of the Pembina Trails Teachers’ Association.

“They’re stressed about it. This is an extra thing that they’re having to do, and, of course, we don’t have a choice at all. Teachers have to comply with this. So it’s another piece that has to be done at a very, very busy time for teachers,” he said.

Pembina Trails said it has devoted more staff resources as a result of the court discovery process, including offering to pay part-time educators to complete the work.

The CBC also caught part of the story and offers comments on how this is proving to be a logistical nightmare:

“For a lot of teachers, it could be a logistical nightmare,” said Wendell Head, the association’s president.

“A lot of times we change courses, grades, sometimes we throw the materials out, sometimes they’re in a box in the garage.… Now you have to go digging for that.”

For some teachers, it will be a lot of work, and the end of the year is a particularly busy time in schools, he said.

Many teachers have been working extra hours to get the items compiled and catalogued, while the school division has provided substitute teachers and information technology support to help with uploading the documents, Head said.

Naturally, while there is actual hardships being faced by a number in the education sector, Access Copyright likes to contend that they are the real victims here. After retroactively jacking up copyright tariff rates, then demanding payment, the collective argues that creators are not being paid and that they are the ones being deprived in all of this.

At the end of the day, this is just another way in which copyright has been used as a hammer on people. Once certain people or groups gets that hammer, everyone around them is just a nail ready to be pounded in. We’ve seen such cases on YouTube many many times. All we are left with is seeing this latest case and saying, “here we go again”.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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