The recent Copyright Board ruling involving Access Copyright and copying at K-12 schools affirmed the fairness of educational copying practices across Canada. While writers groups continue to mislead with claims that the board’s decision springs from 2012 legislative reforms, the reality is that the current approach is grounded in several Supreme Court of Canada decisions. Writers groups and Access Copyright have repeatedly sought to downplay those decisions, yet it has been obvious to most observers that there is nothing unfair about copying up to 10% of a work for purposes such as research, private study, criticism, and education.
With repeated losses at the Copyright Board and the Supreme Court of Canada, copyright collectives have adopted another legal strategy: lawsuits and class actions against universities. The Access Copyright lawsuit against York University is ongoing, but the Quebec counterpart – an attempted class action filed by Copibec against Laval University in November 2014 – hit a legal wall last week. Copibec had been seeking millions in compensation after Laval shifted to an approach based on fair dealing and transactional licenses. According to a release from Copibec, the court refused to authorize the class action. Copibec says it plans to appeal, but the decision suggests that the legal alternatives for the copyright collectives is rapidly diminishing.