How is it that authors don’t get paid much if Copibec’s self-proclaimed raison d’être is to ensure that authors get rewarded for their ideas?
Copibec says that it “rescues” innovation by rewarding authors for their ideas (video). They reason that, unless they collect fees from you and I, and distribute these fees as payments to authors, the authors won’t get paid, and will give up on their craft. We disagree. First of all, professors rarely receive much by way of royalties from Copibec. Even if Copibec did pay authors their fair share - which they don’t - professors would still get paid to write by their employers, the universities. So Copibec really doesn’t stimulate much innovation.
How will free access to copyrighted materials in educational institutions impact the knowledge economy?
People rarely create knowledge within a bubble. Ideas build upon each other over time. If all Canadians in all educational institutions had free access to scholarly materials, they would have more materials to work with, and may end up creating more themselves.
Why should students care about the copyright fee?
Because students pay the fee. Quebec universities are renegotiating their agreement with Copibec, and the copyright fee could increase again - and contribute to rising education costs.
Students should question the legitimacy of copyright fee increases. For starters, the Copibec negotiations are highly secretive. Only university principals and head librarians speak with Copibec about this. Some experts think that the previous fee increases occurred because Copibec assumed that professors underreported the number of copies they made. Without hearing the negotiations surrounding fee increases, and without any real choice in the matter, why should students accept the prices they’re forced to pay?
Making matters worse, when students buy coursepacks, they may have to pay an additional 10 cents per page as a penalty for their professors constructing coursepacks outside of the limits set by Copibec. Professors are often unaware of these limits. Adding insult to injury, students essentially pay twice for the same content. They pay Copibec for the right to print articles, but they also pay for access the same articles through subscriptions to online databases like HeinOnline.