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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.

Copyright basics
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 seventies.

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 coverage.

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 were copied.

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 photocopied.

What to do if you find out someone has been copying your work without permission.
Contact CANCOPY. Part of CANCOPY's mandate is to investigate and prosecute infringement of copyright.

Alex Soiseth is a freelance journalist.

See also:
Battle Rages Over Electronic Publishing Rights
A Copyright Tutorial
Electronic Rights (and Wrongs)
If It's Worth Publishing, It's Worth Paying For
Permissions and documentation: When not to worry


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