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Supreme Court of Canada issues final decision in the Access Copyright vs York University case

Submitted by veraliah on Mon, 08/16/2021 - 10:11

After almost 10 years of litigation, the Supreme Court of Canada recently issued its decision in the Access Copyright vs York University case. The Court determined that a tariff set by the Copyright Board is not mandatory and also declined to declare York University's copyright policies to be fair dealing. This means that the long standing question of the scope of educational fair dealing in Canada is still unanswered.  

IFRRO, along with the International Authors Forum and the International Publishers Association intervened in the case, drawing the Courts attention to the importance of ensuring that Canadian law is consistent with Canada’s international Treaty obligations, in particular the Three Step Test in the Berne Convention – the international standard for the interpretation of statutory exceptions and limitations.

IFRRO’s member, Access Copyright, in a press release indicated their disappointment that the decision failed to remedy the harm to creators and publishers, caused by the mass, systematic reproduction of their works under self-defined fair dealing guidelines in the education sector. Access Copyright also stated that “(…) the Court’s decision undermines collective licensing as well as the role of the Copyright Board of Canada in upholding a functioning market for creative works.”

Access Copyright also stressed that the Supreme Court had declined to endorse York University’s fair dealing guidelines. The same point was made by COPIBEC, also an IFRRO member, and an intervenor in the case. COPIBEC said that by refusing to declare York University’s copyright policies to be fair dealing, the Court “has allowed the book industry to preserve its collective management model and is allowing COPIBEC to continue to pay some $12.5 million annually to authors and publishers.”

Each of Access Copyright and COPIBEC, called on the Canadian government to better support and protect the rights of copyright creators and publishers, by remedying the current situation.