Copyright Board: Supreme Court Copyright Decision is “Clear and Leaves No Room for Interpretations”

The Copyright Board of Canada has ruled that the copies that were at issue before the Supreme Court of Canada (roughly 7% of copies) constitute fair dealing and do not require compensation. The Board’s decision does not come as a surprise given the Supreme Court’s strong endorsement of fair dealing and clear signal that it viewed an earlier Board decision as unreasonable. Access Copyright argued that the Court did not rule the copies at issue were fair dealing, but the Board found that the Court’s message was clear:

The decision of the Supreme Court is clear and leaves no room for interpretations: based on the record before the Board and the findings of fact of the Supreme Court, Category 4 copies constitute fair dealing for an allowable purpose and as such, are non-compensable. The FTE rate must be reduced accordingly.

While Access Copyright now claims that the Supreme Court decision “has no impact on the requirement that royalties continue to be paid on the hundreds of millions of pages of student texts that are copied for use in K-12 classrooms every year”, the reality is that royalties or permissions are already obtained for 88% of copies without Access Copyright. As for the remaining small percentage of copies, the Court’s analysis of fair dealing applies to all copies, not just those at issue and the need for an Access Copyright licence is clearly in doubt. In fact, as Barry Sookman argued before the court in seeking leave to intervene on behalf of publishers: “the precedent established in this case will extend to activities well beyond the K-12 educational setting.” I discuss the Court’s fair dealing analysis here and the implications for Access Copyright here.


  1. Grab your popcorn …
    It is interesting reading these two blogs … &

    As you peruse the prose you may come away with a picture of a bitter, recently divorced couple who blames the other for all the ills. Hyperbole such as ‘terrorize’ or the cute but disingenuously shortened ‘freecult’ does little to dispel this.

    One will hold up this lawyers interpretation against another’s or in the case of Sookman, himself. It’s all a game of perception. The reality though is the Supreme Court handed down a ruling that has decreased the rights of copyright holders and increased the rights of users. The degree, and scope, that this ruling will apply is the battle for the hearts and minds in the musings above.

  2. @Crockett
    I’m sure you meant to say the Supreme Court *clarified* the rights of users and holders. Anything more (decreasing or increasing rights) would be for the legislators, no?

  3. @Kim “Anything more (decreasing or increasing rights) would be for the legislators, no?”
    Or in the case of the Trans Pacific Partnership; 9 other country’s legislators …

  4. I daresay even more…
    …it’s not just that the users have the right to make copies under those circumstances, it’s moreover that they can do so without owing any compensation. The latter is of course just as important in these cases.

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  6. I’ll see that, and raise you…
    Fighting copying is as immoral as raising a
    child in the dark.

    Prometheus is one of my personal heroes.

  7. This is really quite silly.
    You’d think we would have better things to do with our time then focus on copyright laws. People are starving to death and struggling with their health but let’s just focus on copyright laws.