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Michael Geist's Blog

Access Copyright's Desperate Declaration of War Against Fair Dealing

Months after the Supreme Court of Canada delivered a stinging defeat to Access Copyright by ruling for an expansive approach to fair dealing and the government passed copyright reforms that further expanded the scope of fair dealing, the copyright collective responded yesterday with what amounts to a desperate declaration of war against fair dealing. In the aftermath of the court decisions and legislative reforms, a consensus emerged within the Canadian education community on the scope of fair dealing. The fair dealing policies used guidance from the Supreme Court to establish clear limits on copying and eliminate claims that the law was now a free-for-all.  In developing those fair dealing policies, however, many institutions no longer saw much value in the Access Copyright licence.

Access Copyright has decided to fight the law - along with governments, educational institutions, teachers, librarians, and taxpayers - on several fronts. It has filed for an interim tariff with the Copyright Board in an effort to stop K-12 schools from opting out of its licence and it has filed a proposed post-secondary tariff that would run well after most Canadian schools will have opted out of its licence. Most notably, it has filed a lawsuit against York University over its fair dealing guidelines, which are similar to those adopted by educational institutions across the country. While the lawsuit has yet to be posted online [Update: Statement of Claim posted here], the Access Copyright release suggests that the suit is not alleging specific instances of infringement, but rather takes issue with guidelines it says are "arbitrary and unsupported" and that "authorize and encourage copying that is not supported by the law." 

Most of Access Copyright's longstanding arguments were dismissed by the Supreme Court this past summer.
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