Access Copyright has launched a $10 million lawsuit against Staples/The Business Depot for unauthorized copying by store customers. The copyright collective claims this is the largest lawsuit ever launched over copyright infringement of published works in Canada. Given the high stakes, this is the sort of case that could end up at the Supreme Court of Canada. The last time the court addressed the question of photocopying and copyright, the publishers lost badly, with the court ruling that libraries are entitled to presume that their facilities are being used lawfully. Moreover, the Court ruled that fair dealing is a user right that should not be unduly constrained.
It is difficulty to comment fully without seeing the statement of claim, but those twin findings make this a very risky suit for Access Copyright. Staples will likely argue that it has not authorized infringement since it is entitled to presume that its facilities are being used lawfully and that much of the copying on its premises is either personal (ie. the copyright holder is the copier) or being done for research or private study purposes and therefore qualifies as fair dealing. Unless Access Copyright has some damaging evidence to the contrary, the Supreme Court's jurisprudence appears to side with Staples, which may help explain why the parties were unable to reach a settlement.