Post Tagged with: "SCC"

How the Supreme Court of Canada Doubled Down on Users’ Rights in Copyright

I’ve posted several pieces on the recent Supreme Court of Canada copyright decisions, including an immediate overview, a piece on why Canada has shifted to fair use, an analysis of the inclusion of a technological neutrality principle, a discussion on the implication for Access Copyright, and a high level look at the key issues. This final post in the series tries to provide a broader context for what just occurred as the decisions mark the culmination of a ten year transformation of copyright at Canada’s highest court. Over the years, many have expressed doubts about this transformation, yet these five cases should put to rest the debate over whether a balanced analysis of the Copyright Act that prioritizes both creator and user rights has been entrenched in Canadian copyright law.

The shift began in 2002 with the Theberge decision, in which Justice Binnie for the majority discussed the copyright balance:

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July 23, 2012 6 comments News

Copyright Board Begins to Life After Supreme Court Rulings

Barry Sookman reports that the Copyright Board of Canada has issued an order to parties in the satellite radio services case to address the implications of the recent Supreme Court of Canada copyright decisions. It notes that “given the reasons of the majority in Alberta (Education) v. Canadian Copyright Licensing […]

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July 23, 2012 2 comments Must Reads

Supreme Court Shakes the Foundations of Canadian Copyright Law

I have posted several pieces on the recent Supreme Court of Canada copyright decisions (an immediate overview, a piece on why Canada has shifted to fair use, an analysis of the inclusion of a technological neutrality principle, and a discussion on the implication for Access Copyright). My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) also focused on the decision. It noted that copyright cases only reach the Supreme Court of Canada once every few years, ensuring that each case is carefully parsed and analyzed. Last week, the court issued rulings on five copyright cases in a single day, an unprecedented tally that will keep copyright experts busy for many months to come.

While the initial coverage unsurprisingly focused on the specific outcomes for the litigants, including wins for Apple (no fees for song previews on services such as iTunes), the entertainment software industry (no additional payment for music included in downloaded video games), and the education community (copying materials for instructional purposes may qualify as fair dealing), the bigger story are three broad principles that lie at the heart of the court’s decisions.

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July 20, 2012 19 comments Columns

Supreme Court Shakes the Foundations of Canadian Copyright Law

Appeared in the Toronto Star on July 15, 2012 as Supreme Court Shakes the Foundations of Copyright Law Copyright cases only reach the Supreme Court of Canada once every few years, ensuring that each case is carefully parsed and analyzed. Last week, the court issued rulings on five copyright cases […]

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July 20, 2012 Comments are Disabled Columns Archive

Why the Supreme Court’s Copyright Decisions Eviscerate Access Copyright’s Business Model

The implications of last week’s Supreme Court of Canada copyright decisions seem readily apparent to just about everybody – other than Access Copyright. There have been numerous posts analyzing the decisions (here, here, here, and here), all of which recognize the expansion of fair dealing (my posts on fair dealing as fair use and on technological neutrality). Yet in a release posted hours after losing at Canada’s highest court, the copyright collective implausibly claimed that the decision “will have a limited impact on the importance of the Access Copyright licence to the education community” and that it “leaves copyright licensing in the education sector alive and well.” To support the claim, Executive Director Maureen Cavan argued that the specific case only covered about seven percent of the copying done in K-12 schools. The Access Copyright claims were echoed in a release from The Writers’ Union of Canada.

The reaction was reminiscent of the last time Access Copyright lost big at the Supreme Court. Immediately after the CCH decision was issued in 2004, Access Copyright’s release stated that “this ruling does not change the fact that most copying of copyright protected works does not fall under fair dealing. The Supreme Court stated definitively that copyright does exist in original works, and that is why organizations must sign an Access Copyright licence or risk breaking the law.”

The strategy of claiming that little has changed may have worked with some institutions after CCH, but it is very unlikely to do so this time. It is true that the specific case involved a small percentage of overall K-12 school copying, but the court’s fair dealing analysis applies to all copying, not just the copies at issue. In this specific case, the court ruled the Copyright Board’s analysis of the fair dealing six factor test was unreasonable, an unmistakable signal to reverse its ruling. More broadly, the decision eviscerates the current Access Copyright business model that is heavily reliant on educational revenues. The decision does not create a free-for-all – schools will continue to spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year on books, database licences, and transactional licences – but the need for an additional Access Copyright licence for schools at all levels is now unquestionably in doubt.

Just how badly did Access Copyright fare at the Supreme Court?

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July 17, 2012 25 comments News