For the last few months, some Alberta teachers and school officials have been spending hours scanning documents because of a legal battle over copyright.
As part of a lawsuit between Access Copyright — the agency that represents thousands of Canadian writers, artists and publishers — and education departments within all provinces and territories except B.C. and Quebec, a court order was sent to 300 schools across Canada requesting that they scan seven years worth of lesson plans into a national database.
“It very much had an impact on our teachers, and on our central learning services,” said Sean Haggarty, superintendent of Elk Island Catholic Schools. “We had to pause a number of things to focus on this.”
Haggarty found out in September that eight of the 18 schools in his division were selected for the process and that the documentation had to be submitted by mid-January. He said the unplanned project created a staggering amount of work that involved about 70 per cent of the district’s teachers, including central office staff.
That work has basically been finished, he said, thanks to the division’s technical experts, who wrote scripts that could pull data off of the networks and programmed school scanners to deposit files directly into the litigation file for upload to the national database.
“Our tech department literally saved thousands of hours that would have made it even more onerous for the teachers out there,” Haggarty said. ❚
What is Access Copyright?
Access Copyright is a Toronto-based non-profit organization that licenses the copying of content and distributes the money it gathers to copyright holders.
How did the lawsuit originate?
The lawsuit dates back to February 2018, when education ministries across Canada—save B.C. and Quebec—sued Access Copyright for $25 million, claiming that they were paying too much to copy published materials.
Access Copyright responded with a $50 million countersuit, with the argument that Canadian schools make more photocopies of copyrighted material than they pay for.