Coronavirus: Canadian Publishers and Access Copyright Open ‘Read Aloud Canadian Books’

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

The second special copyright exception to be announced by accredited copyright entities this week, Canada’s program is like Copyright Clearance Center’s but it’s aimed specifically at online ‘story time’ use.

The new ‘Read Aloud’ program from Access Copyright and the Association of Canadian Publishers is essentially a temporary and limited copyright exception, allowing teachers and other educators to create ‘story time’ video reading sessions for homebound students without incurring copyright infringements. Image – iStockphoto: Moore Media

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Levi: Stories ‘When They’re Needed More Than Ever’
Here’s what this developing line of stories during the pandemic is about. Copyright protections of content used in education normally restrict the usage of such content that publishers will allow to classroom settings. Under the spreading onslaught of the coronavirus COVID-19, various market’s publishers are being asked by teachers and other educators to sign onto permission waivers of various kinds, to allow those educators to legally utilize such copyrighted content in home-learning formats without creating copyright infringements.

Think of these as an emergency—and temporary—copyright waiver programs.

Today, the news is from the Canadian market and it involves educators creating “online story times” for students.

At this writing, Canada is ranked No. 11 in the world for its number of cases of COVID-19. The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center lists 4,046 cases of infection and 40 deaths for the country. Its big neighbor to the south, the United States, now has surpassed all other countries, including China, to present 85,996 cases and 1,300 in the 7:57 a.m. ET (1157 GMT) update at Johns Hopkins.

As many Publishing Perspectives readers know, the Association of Canadian Publishers (ACP) is the organization that comprises English-language publishing houses owned by Canadians. The distinction there is that these are not publishing houses placed in Canada by companies owned elsewhere, such as the Big Five. (Those, in the Canadian industry, are called the “multinationals.”)

Access Copyright launches Read Aloud Canadian BooksAnd Access Copyright, as we’ve reported, is the federally mandated collection agency for English-language Canada’s copyright revenue.

As the pandemic’s arrival in Canada has driven students and teachers out of their classrooms—schools are closed—librarians and educators have asked for permission from the Canadian publishers to read all or part of books for a camera, and then share videos of these readings with students and their families as part of the effort to keep educational experiences going during the crisis. (Also: not a bad way to keep the kids occupied for a while, and with some literature.)

And so the ACP and Access Copyright have announced their creation of a program called Read Aloud Canadian Books for the express purpose of facilitating this use of copyrighted content.

You’ll notice that this is quite a lot like the “education continuity license” that Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) has announced through which publishers to allow temporary exceptions in the use of their copyrighted content for home-learning efforts by educators.

Ruth Linka: ‘Proud To Support Educators and Librarians’

Access Copyright plans to begin listing on its site (as CCC is doing for its continuity license) the publishers who are signing on to the new Read Aloud program.

Guidelines for the program are posted here.

And teachers and librarians who find they need a certain work for an “online story time” but can’t find that work can contact Access Copyright at and provide title, publisher, and ISBN. The agency will then look into getting copyright permission from the rights holder.

Publishers who’d like to offer their work for the program should also be in touch: with Access Copyright’s royalty and client services department ( and copy Madeline McCaffrey ( to add their participation and intention “to allow, on a temporary basis, a waiver of license fees related to the reading of all or part of select books and posting of the video recording online.”

On social media, the organizations are trying to get out the word and track communications. Use hashtag #ReadAloudCanadian as well as handles @AccessCopyright and @CdnPublishers.

Roanie Levy

In a prepared statement, Roanie Levy, Access Copyright president and CEO, talks of how this partnership with the ACP’s member-publishers can “facilitate online story times while schools and libraries are temporarily closed.

“The Read Aloud Canadian Books Program empowers educators and librarians to share stories from Canadian publishers with their students during a time when they are needed more than ever.”

Ruth Linka

And speaking for the publishers’ association, Ruth Linka, who co-chairs the children’s publisher committee, says, “In the best of times, authors and book publishers are active partners with educators and librarians in bringing excellent content to our youngest citizens.

“Now in difficult times we’re proud to support educators and librarians in their extraordinary work in keeping children engaged, informed, and entertained.”

Linka is the associate publisher of Orca, a Canadian children’s publisher founded in 1984 and based in Victoria, British Columbia, with an American office in Custer, Washington.

Publishers signed up already include some of Canada’s prominent publishers of work for young readers:

  • Annick Press
  • ARP Books
  • Orca Book Publishers
  • Owlkids Books
  • Portage and Main Press
  • Running the Goat
  • Books and Broadsides
  • Groundwood Books
  • Linda Leith Publishing
If Your Market Is Making Special Copyright Arrangements

We’re receiving good notice from many associates in the world industry, and we’d be glad to consider having you join them in telling us about your coronavirus-related news for our international readership. Please note that we don’t use articles written by industry professionals, but if you’d like us to consider doing an interview with you, contact

More from Publishing Perspectives on the coronavirus outbreak is here. More from us on the Canadian book market is here, more on the Association of Canadian Publishers is here, and more on Access Copyright is here.

Download your free copy of our Spring Magazine here

In our Spring 2020 Magazine, Publishing Perspectives has interviewed publishers, industry experts, entrepreneurs, and authors to present a look at the book business for the coming year. Inside this issue of Publishing Perspectives Magazine, you’ll find articles and resources including:

  • Publishing and the coronavirus
  • Richard Charkin’s view of key industry challenges
  • China’s growing comic book market
  • Brussels Book Fair debuts its rights center
  • Eksmo CEO Evgeny Kapyev on Russia’s book market
  • Matchmaking for publishers and producers in Latin America
  • Book market data
  • A world tour of copyright developments
  • Translation sales resulting from Norway’s Frankfurter Buchmesse guest of honor program
  • An AI startup creating interactive stories
  • An interview with author Andrew Keen

Download ‘Publishing in Times of Crisis’ free of charge here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.