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Access Copyright Sues Staples/The Business Depot for Copyright Infringement

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.

12 Comments

  1. If they do win…
    I have a multi-function printer at home, which can be used to make photocopies. If they win, will they therefore be able to sue me as well?

    Not to sound vindictive, but if the lawsuit is tossed out, would Staples/Business Depot have a claim to launch a suit against Access Copyright regarding a frivolous lawsuit and smearing their corporation reputation?

  2. Might as well sue ISP’s (for allowing illegal PFD versions to go through their network), car manufacturers (for allowing their products to be used to drive to and from Staples), Hydro-Ontario (for allowing their services to power photocopiers that are used to commit copyright infringement) and so on and so forth.

    If someone used a Staples photocopy machine to commit a copyright infringement as per the law then why don’t they just sue that person? This is what the music industry is doing so “successfully” after all…

  3. Master Blaster
    Most people I see there are copying personal documents. I used to copy material there I already own for reference files. Why should I pay the \”Tyson Tax\”? I just scan everything now, Access Copyright can get stuffed.

  4. I swear the copyright related issues I’ve read lately all seems to be getting more and more ridiculous to anyone with any common sense, and its amazing what some companies and organizations seem to get away with these days. Although I’m sure Staples would be able to get this tossed out, my faith in the government and the law systems in many places have taken quite a hit lately, and who knows what may happen. If this doesn’t get tossed out, I think I’d lose all faith in our law system.

  5. Being able to make a legally acceptable claim assuming lawful business of customers is real nice, but one can give Staples any document and they will provide a dozen or 100 copies, whether or not it is plainly copyrighted material.

    Give them a copy of a play’s script. They’ll do it.

    Sheet music? No problem.

    Newspaper article? Right away.

    Why not just attempt to sue person ordering the infringing copies? For one, Staples is profiting from the shared illegal activity.

  6. For Kevin,

    Doesn’t matter if they win against Staples.

    if you are currently illegally reproducing copyrighted works, they can sue you now.

    A lawsuit that is based upon a reasonable legal theory is not frivolous. Saying in Court filings that Staples facilitates the believed to be illegal reproduction of copyrighted materials is not smearing Staples, because that is what they do.

    Under American law, truth is an absolute defense to a slander action.

  7. Government Minister
    Apart from the glaring fact that it’s NOT in the US, Frank… So it has NOTHING to do with American law.

    You couldn’t photocopy copyrighted material in Staples over here – They are sticklers for it. They won’t even photocopy an album cover in black & white where I live. Who needs the service anyway when you can get your own decent colour copier for a good price and do it all at home.

  8. Edward Palonek says:

    Edward Palonek
    Edward Palonek
    [ link ]
    Copying media that you own should be a personal right for non commercial and on distribution purposes.

  9. WHAT!?!?!
    wow i hope this ends soon

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