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The Manifesto

Art permeates our lives.

Art is such an integral part of our lives that we could not live without it. What would actually happen if art disappeared?

We need art on a daily basis to help us make sense of the world, understand it better and embellish our daily lives, it helps us grow, live together or simply entertains us. We need art, and, today, art needs us.

The Copyright Act is currently being reviewed in Ottawa. Ever since the Law was amended in 2012, several loopholes are threatening artists and their creations.

They need a strong law that is designed to protect them.

By signing this manifesto, I express my support of artists in Québec and across Canada.

By signing this manifesto, I’m asking the federal government to make sure the Copyright Act better protects artists and their creations, both from an economic and moral standpoint.

By signing this manifesto, I am letting it be known that art is vital to my daily life.

I am signing this manifesto because art needs me, and I need art.

I’m signing

Artists are represented by professional associations and collective management societies regrouped under the DAMIC (Droit d’auteur/Multimédia-Internet/Copyright) banner which initiated this manifesto.

Copyright FAQ

What is a copyright?

First, a copyright is a social contract between a creator and society. The creator contributes to the creation of our cultural heritage while society, in other words all the users of art, benefit from this heritage. In exchange for this contribution, society recognizes that the creator has a right to earn a compensation from the authorization to use his creations.

 

Copyrights are an essential component of an artist’s revenue. Without fair compensation, it becomes very difficult, or near-impossible, for a great majority of artists, to keep on creating.

What's wrong with the current Copyright Act?

The current version of the law doesn't sufficiently protect artists and creators because it has too many exceptions – in other words, situations where paying copyrights is not required. To be more precise, it does not compel all art users to pay fair and equitable compensation to their creators.

 

The existing exceptions also lack clarity and do not contain definitions of certain notions, which generates confusion, and conflicting interpretations of the law. For example, the notions of "fair use" and "educational purposes" allow educational establishments to use literary and musical works of art freely, without having to pay copyright royalties to the artists. Additionally, the statutory damages for non-commercial uses are too low, and don't have a dissuasive effect. The maximum fine is $5,000, regardless of the number of violations, works of art, or rights holders.

 

Finally, it has not been modernized to take into account the technological developments of the past few years.

 

Problem Example—Dramatists:

Over an 11-year period, between 2006–2007 and 2016, 42% of the 5,000 plays presented in Québec’s schools (primary and secondary) were protected by an exception to the Copyright Act. This means, in other words, that dramatists lost 42% of the revenue generated when their plays were performed, and that only for the educational sector.

 

Problem Example—Visual Artists:

Any visual artwork created before June 1988 is confronted with the exclusion of exhibition rights. More precisely, a sizable percentage of visual artists, most of them elderly, are denied a right for their works created prior to 1988. This restriction, which only applies to visual arts, is a form of indirect discrimination against elderly artists.

How does the Copyright Act and its judicial review impact the general public?

Art permeates our lives. We need art on a daily basis to help us understand our world and embellish our lives, to help us grow, live together, or simply entertain us.

 

Since copyrights are an essential part of an artist’s salary, the public will no longer benefit from their work — which is at the very heart of the culture of Québec and Canada — if artists no longer have the means to create.

 

Regrettably, the current Copyright Act has many shortcomings that threaten artists and their creations. The law should protect creators, but instead, it acts as a sieve that allows many to avoid paying copyrights.

 

Without fair compensation, it becomes very difficult, or near-impossible, for a great majority of artists, to keep on creating.

Can you explain how copyright works with all of the current digital platforms like Spotify, Netflix, e-readers, etc.?

The copyright held by an artist for their creations allows them to authorize or prohibit how those creations are used. It's not always necessary to seek the authorization of the artist, but when such is the case, the artist normally receives compensation.

 

In the digital era, however, many users use creations without the consent of, or compensation to, the artist, even though their creations are used on a massive scale and generate revenue. Nowadays, a large number of internet users feel that a work of art is free if it is on the internet.

 

The law should apply no matter what the support is and it should be strengthened with leverage to punish “the pirates.”

 

In France, for example, digital platforms pay royalties to collecting societies who in turn distribute those royalties to audio-visual creators, among others. The French Copyright Act even provides for the type of payment that applies to video-on-demand services (either a percentage of the subscription price, or the transaction).

Your manifesto mentions that several shortcomings threaten artists and their creations since its last review in 2012. Can you give us examples of negative impacts that occurred since the last review?

The current version of the law does not sufficiently protect artists and creators because it has too many exceptions – in other words, situations where paying copyrights is not required. To be more precise, it does not compel all art users to pay fair and equitable compensation to their creators.

 

The existing exceptions also lack clarity and don't contain definitions of certain notions, which generates confusion, and conflicting interpretations of the law.

 

For example, the notions of "fair use" and "educational purposes" allow educational establishments to use literary and musical works of art freely, without having to pay copyright royalties to the artists.

 

Consequently, we have observed that:

  • The royalty paid by Québec’s universities has decreased by 50% since 2012;
  • The royalty paid by Québec’s Cégep’s has decreased by nearly 20% since 2012;
  • Creators receive 23% less per page for reproductions made in the academic sector;
  • Weakening of collective management: UNESCO recognizes collective management as a way to “favour the lawful exploitation of works and cultural productions” and “an essential element in the construction of a modern national system of protection of copyright which would effectively promote a dynamic cultural development.”
Do you really believe art could disappear if the Copyright Act is not modified?

Art will disappear if artists don't have the means, the setting and the motivation to create. If creators cannot obtain fair compensation for their contributions, it will become nearly impossible for them to continue creating.

 

As Liza Frulla, former minister of Culture (Québec) and Heritage (Ottawa), once said, “Without our authors, there would be no cultural industry in Québec and Canada, and without copyrights, there can be no creators.”

Artists already earn a good living, don’t they?

Some artists do earn a decent living, but it's not the case of the majority of them. For every artist who earns a good living, there are thousands that hold several jobs to earn a decent and dignified living.

 

For example, a study by the Union des écrivaines et écrivains québécois and Writers Union of Canada indicates that the median creation income of Canadian writers isn't even $3,000. If we want to champion creation, we must allow our creators to earn a better living.

What do you say to people who believe that strengthening copyrights is a hidden tax passed on to citizens, and those who don't wish to pay more for artistic creations?

 

Copyrights are not a tax. Copyrights are part, and often the biggest part, of a creator’s revenue. Any work deserves to be paid. No one would think of asking a mechanic to fix their car without pay. The same goes for creators.

 

The model that needs to be implemented must benefit consumers and creators alike by allowing consumers to easily and quickly access artistic works for their private use, while guaranteeing that the creators of those works gain the means to keep creating.

 

As responsible citizens, we must consider this a just contribution to the vitality of our national culture. Art is essential to any country, it is part of what defines it. An artless country is a soulless country.

Is copyright not a hindrance for a wider distribution of Québec’s and Canada’s cultural products?

Copyright does not hinder the distribution of culture. When one looks at the facts, copyright is such a tiny portion of the cost of distributing cultural creations that arguing that it can hinder consumption is literally dishonest.

 

What hinders the distribution of culture is the pre-conceived notion that access to culture necessarily has to be free. The Canadian government should promote educating people about copyright, instead of depriving creators of their revenue.

 

As an important source of revenue for creators, copyright contributes to a thriving Canadian cultural production, to the freedom of expression of our creators, and to stimulating the creation of art. This is one way to resist against the steamroller that is the foreign cultural offer — from the United States, mainly — and ensure that we preserve our rich and flourishing culture and economy.

But concretely, what are the demands of the campaign A Life Without Art? Really?

With the federal elections coming this fall, the organizations championing the Life Without Art? Really? campaign are calling for the reinforcement of the law, in order to achieve a better balance between accessing creations and protecting artists. In concrete terms, the organizations are demanding that we:

 

  • require internet access providers to increase their contributions to the compensation of creators;
  • introduce dissuasive sanctions for abusive uses;
  • reduce the number of exceptions to the law, and better define the remaining ones;
  • better define the concepts of "education" and "fair use" in the text of the law;
  • adapt the existing statutory provisions to the technological realities of the market by including, for example, digital audio recorders, electronic tablets, and smartphones in the private copy system;
  • impose the same regulations on foreign online services as are imposed on Canadian services, notably when it comes to taxation and financing culture.
How can people show you their support?

Citizens are invited to show their support for Québec’s and Canada’s artists by signing and sharing the manifesto at the address www.uneviesansart.ca.

 

The campaign focuses mainly on three videos that demonstrate what “a life without art” would look like. They can also share the videos on their own social media, using the hashtag #lifewithoutart.

 

At the end of each video, Fanny Britt, David Bussières, Dominique Fils-Aimé, Claude Robinson, Mani Soleymanlou, and Ricardo Trogi invite Québec’s and Canada’s citizens to mobilize for better protection of artists and their creations.