For the past 13 years, Canadian copyright jurisprudence has followed a consistent trajectory. Starting with the Supreme Court of Canada’s CCH decision in 2004, Canadian courts and tribunals have affirmed the need for balance in copyright and the importance of user’s rights. That approach has been particularly evident in fair dealing cases. Much to the dismay of Access Copyright, from the Supreme Court’s 2012 copyright pentalogy cases (including Alberta v. Access Copyright and SOCAN v. Bell) to the Copyright Board’s rulings on copying in K-12 schools and governments to the Federal Court of Appeal (upholding the Copyright Board’s decisions), the courts have upheld the need for balance and a broad, liberal approach to fair dealing.
Yesterday, however, five years to the day of the release of the Supreme Court’s copyright pentalogy, Access Copyright found a willing taker for its legal arguments. Judge Michael Phelan of the Federal Court of Canada delivered a complete victory for the copyright collective, rejecting York University’s fair dealing approach and concluding that an interim tariff is mandatory and enforceable against the university. The immediate implications of the decision are significant: royalty payments to Access Copyright (that will likely be kept in escrow pending any appeals) and the prospect of other universities re-thinking their current copyright policies. The decision will also have an effect on the copyright review scheduled for later this year. With the court’s decision, there will be little reason to revisit the inclusion of the “education” purpose in fair dealing as it had no discernible impact on the court’s legal analysis.
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Access Copyright announced a shift in its licensing approach for universities and colleges yesterday, unveiling what it described as “new market-focused services.” Access Copyright CEO Roanie Levy is quoted as saying “we recognize the advances many institutions have made on content dissemination and the centralized management of copyright. We hear you. We are changing.” Indeed, the copyright collective has changed its tune in some important ways.
Less than three years ago, Access Copyright believed that institutions simply could not opt-out of its licence, claiming that an opt-out would amount to “an absolute ban on all copying” since the only possible way to legally copy materials was to pay the collective. Over the past three years, Access Copyright has been proven wrong. The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed all of its key legal arguments in a massive defeat, the government expanded fair dealing with the inclusion of education, universities opted-out of the Access Copyright licence in droves, and dozens adopted fair dealing policies that called into question whether there was much value in the licence at all.
While Access Copyright is still suing York University (more about that below), the collective appears to recognize that the education sector has alternatives, including the enormous expenditures on site licences, open access publishing, fair dealing, public domain works, and individual licences for works not otherwise available. In other words, Access Copyright is an option, not a requirement, and the collective must prove value that extends beyond extolling the size of its repertoire. Rather, it must demonstrate that it offers value for money in an environment where the Supreme Court has emphasized the importance of users’ rights and adopted a liberal, flexible approach to fair dealing.
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As students and faculty prepare to head back to campus this week, many will be greeted by new copyright guidelines that clarify how materials may be used without the need for further permission or licensing fees. Just over a year after the Supreme Court of Canada released five landmark copyright decisions in a single day and the Canadian government passed copyright reform legislation over a decade in the making, the education community has begun to fully integrate the new copyright landscape into campus policies.
My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes the new rules are significant since they grant teachers and students far more flexibility to use portions of materials without the need for copyright collective licences. The changes come as a result of the expansion of fair dealing, the Canadian equivalent of the U.S. fair use rules. The government expanded the scope of fair dealing to explicitly include education as a recognized purpose in 2012, while the Supreme Court has repeatedly emphasized the importance of a broad, liberal interpretation to fair dealing in order to ensure an appropriate balance in copyright law.
With those developments in hand, Canadian educational institutions crafted a general fair dealing policy last year confirming that educators can rely on fair dealing to use up to ten percent of a copyright-protected work (or a single article, a chapter from a book, a newspaper article, or a poem or photograph taken from a larger collection) without the need for a licence provided they meet a six-factor test.
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Appeared in the Toronto Star on August 31, 2013 as Schools Navigate Learning Curve for New Copyright Rules As students and faculty prepare to head back to campus this week, many will be greeted by new copyright guidelines that clarify how materials may be used without the need for further […]
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Last week, I posted on the emerging consensus within the Canadian education on the scope of fair dealing. The AUCC has now become the last major educational association to adopt a fair dealing policy, which largely mirrors the approach of the ACCC and K-12 schools.
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