Whitehorse school among 300 required to turn in teaching plans as part of copyright lawsuit

Education departments in most Canadian jurisdictions are involved in a legal dispute with an organization that represents Canadian writers and artists.

Teachers across Canada have been ordered to provide 7 years of teaching materials

F.H. Collins Secondary School in Whitehorse is the only Yukon school included in the court order. (Claudiane Samson/Radio-Canada)

Teachers at a secondary school in Whitehorse have some homework to do, and it entails a lot of paperwork.

Most education departments across the country are involved in a legal dispute with Access Copyright, an organization that represents and collects royalties for tens of thousands of Canadian writers, artists and publishers.

The lawsuit has been ongoing since February 2018. The disagreement is over how much fees schools need to pay to copy published material.

As part of a court order related to the lawsuit, teachers at 300 selected schools across the country are required to provide their lesson plans from the past seven years.

F.H. Collins Secondary School in Whitehorse was among those randomly selected. It is the only Yukon school included in the order. 

That can be, you know, an immense amount of work.- Sue Ross, Yukon Teachers' Association president

Sue Ross, president of the Yukon Teachers' Association, said teachers were notified about the order around mid-December.

She said for some teachers, it could mean digging up 800 days worth of teaching plans. 

"That can be, you know, an immense amount of work," said Ross.

She said the association would like teachers to be able to fulfil the court order during work hours. 

"So we're asking that TOC [teachers on call, or substitute teachers] relief be provided."

Ross is unclear when teachers have to submit the documents. She also wasn't sure how many teachers are affected by the order. The F.H. Collins website lists more than 50 teaching staff. 

CBC requested an interview with a spokesperson from Yukon's Department of Education regarding this story, but it has not been granted as of Thursday afternoon.

But in an email, a departmental spokesperson stated that the department would comply with the court order, and that schools have been requested by the Council of Ministers of Education of Canada Copyright Consortium to provide the documents by "the middle of January."

Education departments started the lawsuit

The lawsuit started when education departments across Canada claimed the kindergarten to Grade 12 school system was paying too much in fees to copy published material. They sued Access Copyright for $25 million.

Access Copyright then counter-sued for $50 million, arguing that Canadian schools make more than 150 million photocopies of copyrighted material each year that require payment.

B.C. and Quebec are the only jurisdictions not part of the lawsuit. 

In 2012, Canada changed the rules surrounding the educational use of copyrighted materials.

The law established "fair dealing" for school use. A further Supreme Court decision ruled that teachers in Canada can make copies of certain materials for classes without paying royalties.

With files from Steve Silva, Marina von Stackelberg


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