Most people’s eyes glaze over when you start talking about copyright but not these 24 people. From Thursday till Saturday, they devoted themselves to solving the issues behind the survival of our culture, namely the protection of intellectual property. Currently Bill C11 and the ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada jeopardize the blanket licence payments for the use of educational materials.

While I’m not as passionate as some of them about copyright issues, I am passionate about writing and reading and education and opportunity for our young people.

I sympathise with teachers trying to get the best materials for their students in as quick and inexpensive a manner as possible. I feel badly for university students whose tuition rates have gone up horrendously in the

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past short while. University instructors and profs need to be able to offer quality course packs without spending weeks trying to get permissions.

But if a teacher pushes forth a young writing prodigy and tells me he or she will someday be a professional like me, I also feel bad. Even if I donate back my Access Copyright cheque, which for my large body of works is sizeable, it won’t solve the issue of there being no writing jobs for these students. And for the university kids, right now there are many cultural jobs in the publishing industry that will continue to disappear if they insist on free content.

It may seem very fair to them now to have access to materials for free (and it’s never free, it’s at the publisher and creators’ cost) but it won’t be fair when they remain unemployed after they graduate.

Still enough doom and gloom, late this fall publishers and writers can expect a larger cheque than usual for one time and perhaps one time only. These are the royalties collected from K to 12 (2005-09)previously held in trust pending the Supreme Court Ruling. There is still an outstanding legal dispute about 10% of these royalties.

Perhaps for one year struggling writers can pay some bills again. Publishers can afford to hire some writers. But that’s how jobs in the arts work, one granting or funding period at a time, from one cheque to the next. Hand to mouth.

And I bet those artists will spend a good deal of their cheque buying more books. So this may be a double whammy.

Next year… well, I live with the hope Canadians will realize the value of good Canadian materials and books and willingly pay for them.

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