Web Copyright & Education

The Canadian government is proposing that educational intitutions pay a fee in order to use web materials which are publicly available. According to the The Globe & Mail, Schools would “pay a fee to a copyright collective, an organization representing creators of websites, to access material that is currently free.” So if you create content for the web, and a school in Canada uses it, then the school pays money to a third-party organization.

This sounds an awful lot like government-sponsored piracy to me. Worse, it is a subsidy to larger publishers, which in turn gives them a competitive advantage versus smaller companies which will be providing much of the material which is the basis for the fee. In short: you might face competition from a company financed in part by fees charged to schools to access your work.

It’s absurd – if a company places information on the web, then it knows that that content is freely available and people will view it without paying. This is extraordinary proposal is another precedent attempting enclosure of the public domain.

Needless to say, the educators themselves are not impressed.