Canadian Copyright Collective Calls It A Day After 15 Years Of Failing To Make Payments To Rights Holders
from the taking-down-the-industry-from-the-inside dept
Organizations fronting for rights holders repeatedly claim to have the best interests of those they represent at heart, but in reality, their efforts are largely self-serving. Lobbying, lawsuits and the pursuit of nominal fees through legislation is expensive work. The theory is that the monies collected by these efforts will make its way to rights holders, but as we've seen time and time again, the collected funds are either dumped back into the vicious circle of lawsuits/lobbying or disbursed to those running these agencies. Very rarely do creators see any sort of payment from these efforts, and the few that do are usually making healthy incomes already (the top 5%).
Michael Geist details the decade-plus of failure of one of these agencies. The Educational Rights Collective Canada (ERCC) was formed in
1988 1998 for the sole purpose of collecting royalties for the educational copying of broadcast programs for the classroom. Fifteen years down the road, it's asking the Copyright Board of Canada to put it out of its misery.
The ERCC, which includes the CBC as a founding member, asks the Copyright Board to effectively put an end to its tariff as it admits that it has never distributed any money to rights holders and is hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.Fifteen years of pushing for tariffs and not a single cent was passed on to the creators. During this same period, the ERCC managed to rack up nearly $1 million in debt. Its creditors are expecting to collect no more than 5% of the outstanding debt, most of which the ERCC amassed in its quest to institute copying tariffs. Canada's new copyright bill, C-11, greatly expands the royalty-free copying educational institutes can do, eliminating the ERCC's reason to exist.
The debt will now be absorbed by its creditors and the ERCC's clientele find themselves in the same financial position they were in 15 years ago. Rights holders should be taking a long, hard look at the institutions supposedly representing their interests. Many of these continue to throw good money after bad in hopes of extracting fees for nearly every use of copyrighted material. The purpose these organizations are supposed to serve -- divesting funds to rights holders -- seems to fall very low on the list of priorities.