CANCOPY and Photocopying
By Alex Soiseth
The issues of copyright and the protection of intellectual property
have never been more relevant. The explosion of the Internet has
focused attention on the importance of understanding and protecting
copyright. Photocopying is one area where confusion still exists.
Simply put, copyright is the right to copy. The creator of a work
has the exclusive right to copy it or to decide who may copy it.
This law is designed to protect creators who rely on royalties from
their work just as others rely on a salary. Unauthorized copying
deprives them of deserved income.
Copy laws govern photocopying as well. For many years, restraints
on photocopying have been lax. Photocopying magazine articles witout
requesting permission from the creator has become ommonplace. But
purchasing a magazine only gives the consumer the right to read,
not the right to copy. If readers want to make copies they must
request permission and forward payment.
Copyright and Journalists
Copyright is incredibly important to journalists. It is the way
writers and other creators make their living. Some rights are easier
than others to manage, sell or licence. Photocopying is one of the
more difficult rights to manage. It is virtually impossible for
the individual rightsholders to identify those who are photocopying
their work, which is why CANCOPY was created.
CANCOPY was formed by rightsholders - publishers and creators -
as a non-profit organization to administer reproduction rights,
including photocopying rights.
Reproduction Rights Organizations (RROs)
Reprographic Rights Organizations like CANCOPY started operating
in Europe in response to the wide-scale use of photocopiers in the
Each year, RROs license hundreds of thousands of users to copy
from millions of titles published throughout the world.
In 1995-96, the 30 RRO members of the International Federation
of Reproduction Rights Organizations (IFRRO) collected about $200
(US) million in copyright fees and distributed $166 million (US)
to authors and publishers.
RROs operate through licences of which there are two types.
Comprehensive licences are negotiated with institutions such as
schools or universities that do a lot of photocopying. A comprehensive
licence provides the institution with permission to copy in advance,
enabling to photocopy without requesting permission for each copying
job. It is a very user friendly way to arrange permission.
Employees can copy from most works since CANCOPY also represents
foreign creators and publishers through agreements with international
organizations in the United States, the United Kingdom, France,
Norway and Australia and other members of IFRRO. An agreement with
Quebec's reproduction rights organization, the Union des écrivaines
et écrivains Québecois (UNeQ), ensures CANCOPY's national
CANCOPY collects royalty fees for photocopies and distributes them
back to the copyright holders. The cost of the photocopies is based
on the amount of copying done and which types of published works
A second type of licence is called a transactional licence. This
is a one-time-only licence which provides permission to copy a specific
item at a specific time. These are generally used by individuals
looking for permission.
Because permission to photocopy is never meant to replace the purchase
of original works, both licenses have limits to the quantities that
can be copied.
Paying out the royalties
Royalties are distributed based on the type of licence under which
the money was collected. Each licence is different as to what kind
of information the institution is required to keep. If complete
records are not kept, CANCOPY does sampling. Sampling requires employees
to keep records of all copying at a select number of locations within
the institution in a specified period of time. Distribution models
are the final method. Institutions use indicators, i.e., library
holdings or subscriptions) to access what is likely to have been
What to do if you find out someone has been copying your work without
Contact CANCOPY. Part of CANCOPY's mandate is to investigate and
prosecute infringement of copyright.
Alex Soiseth is a freelance journalist.
Rages Over Electronic Publishing Rights
Rights (and Wrongs)
It's Worth Publishing, It's Worth Paying For
and documentation: When not to worry
Sources, 489 College
Street, Suite 201, Toronto, ON M6G 1L9.
Phone: (416) 964-7799 FAX: (416) 964-8763
Include yourself in Sources
Mailing Lists and
Media Names & Numbers
Names & Numbers