New Copyright Legislation Misses Opportunity to Cut Textbook Prices

Preservation of existing book importation regime keeps prices high, hurting Canadian students.

CALGARY, Sept. 30, 2011 /CNW/ - Today, Canada's campus bookstores are pleased to see the reintroduction of C-11, The Copyright Modernization Act. Technology has dramatically changed how Canadians, particularly students, use materials in the years since The Copyright Act was last substantially modified. It is good news that the government is committed to bringing the legal regime in line with how materials are actually used.

"This bill takes a step in the right direction by striving for technological neutrality and including a specific fair-dealing exemption for education," said Campus Stores Canada Executive Director Wayne Amundson. "Fair-dealing is an important academic right, and ensures that students and researchers are able to use the material that they need without worrying about violating copyright."

Campus Stores Canada is concerned, however, that C-11's absolute protection of so-called "digital locks" undermines these steps forward. While it is important that rights holders be able to protect their intellectual property, it is important that such protections not unduly hinder user rights or limit creativity. A better balance can be struck by allowing for the circumvention of digital locks for non-infringing purposes.

"As just one example, every year thousands of international students study on Canadian campuses, and thousands of Canadian students at international campuses. Digital locks may prevent legally purchased material from working in all jurisdictions," noted Amundson. "With an absolute protection for such locks, students will be forced to pay twice for the same material or break the law. Give and take is needed."

C-11 also missed an opportunity to reduce the cost of post-secondary learning materials. Since 1998, the Copyright Act has allowed publishers to establish Canadian import monopolies on books by authors from around the world. These exclusive distributors can in turn add an additional 10 or 15% to the price of a book. If distributors do not charge more than this, the Copyright Act makes it a violation for individual bookstores to purchase from foreign distributors. Campus Stores Canada considers this 10 or 15% surcharge to be a "private tax," collected from the pockets of Canadian consumers and kept in the bank accounts of publishers.

"Over the past decade, this private tax has seen millions of dollars taken from the wallets of Canadians, particularly students," said Amundson. "By amending the Act to kill this tax, textbook prices could be reduced by as much as 15%, virtually overnight. Without, Canadian students will, with little accountability as to where this money goes, continue to overpay millions of dollars more in the coming decade."

"C-11 is complicated legislation, and there will no doubt be important discussion amongst Canadians looking to find a balance between interests," said Amundson. "It is important that in this conversation the government not lose sight of a straight-forward, non-controversial change that will dramatically lower price differential on books between Canada and the United States and elsewhere. This would provide a real and measurable financial benefit to all Canadians, but particularly students. We look forward to working with government and opposition MPs as the bill is debated."

Campus Stores Canada is the national trade association dedicated to providing a unified voice for Canadian post-secondary, institutionally owned and operated Campus stores, and by doing so enabling them to serve their institutions in the most effective manner. Campus Stores Canada has almost 100 member stores nationwide and almost 120 vendor and supplier associates. This means that if you know one of Canada's million post-secondary students, you probably know someone that is served by Campus Stores Canada.

SOURCE Campus Stores Canada

For further information:

Michael Powell
Campus Stores Canada Public Relations
613-233-8906 (office) ; 613-797-7313 (cell)


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