A “Fair and Better Way Forward”… but how?

Recently the Canadian Copyright Institute (CCI) have made publicly available an opinion paper from Fall 2013 that sets out their position on the 2012 Copyright Act amendments and the Supreme Court’s decision in Alberta (Education) et al. v. Access Copyright.

Important analyses of the paper have been written by Michael Geist and Meera Nair.

Michael Geist, Canadian Authors & Publishers: We Demand Education Talk To Us As Long As It Leads to New Payments (March 14, 2014): http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/7091/125/

Prof. Geist points at what CCI’s paper does not address — that the majority of copying done in Alberta (Education) was already permitted for various reasons before fair dealing or blanket licences even needed to be considered. Nor does the paper acknowledge the Supreme Court’s stance toward technological neutrality, per Entertainment Software Association v. Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada — “… absent evidence of Parliamentary intent to the contrary, we interpret the Copyright Act in a way that avoids imposing an additional layer of protections and fees based solely on the method of delivery of the work to the end user.” (para. 9)

Meera Nair, Rewriting History (March 23, 2014): http://fairduty.wordpress.com/2014/03/23/rewriting-history/

Dr. Nair adds to the discussion by noting that CCI’s claim of pending devastation to the publishing industry is at most unsupported, and at least irrelevant. As she puts it, “It is not incumbent upon the education sector to prop up the publishing sector by making unnecessary payment for materials.”

Both commentators advise that if the CCI and other organizations of copyright owners want a meaningful discussion with the educational community, the theme must be one of adaption and not intimidation.

Copying “a few pages” does not reach threshold of substantiality

Michael Geist has written a blog post on the series of questions posed by the Copyright Board to Access Copyright in the post-secondary education tariff proceedings.

Prof. Geist specifically notes the Board’s view that the copying of a couple of pages from a book is not “substantial”, and does not implicate any of the copyright owner’s exclusive rights; therefore, there would be no need for a fair dealing analysis.

“The Board’s preliminary view is that the copying of a few pages or a small percentage from a book that is not a collection of short works, such as poems, is not substantial.” — Copyright Board (pdf)

The Board invites Access Copyright to comment on its view.

Do Licence Agreements Trump Users’ Rights?

I’ve just posted a new working paper on SSRN: “Conflict between Contract Law and Copyright Law in Canada: Do Licence Agreements Trump Users’ Rights?” It’s available for download at http://ssrn.com/abstract=2396028. The paper was written under the supervision of Prof. Samuel Trosow, and portions of it were presented at the Ontario Library Association Super Conference on January 31, 2014.

Abstract:

I argue in this paper that it is not a settled issue in Canadian law that copyright exceptions provided in the Canadian Copyright Act can be trumped by contractual agreement, and that a strong argument can be made that they cannot. I first frame the issue by discussing the increasing use of digital rather than print materials in academic libraries, and the potential conflict between subscription agreements and the Copyright Act. I then address three approaches (jurisdictional, purposive, and statutory right) that can be taken to determine whether contractual terms are preempted by statutory provisions, and conclude that, in Canada, copyright exceptions are statutory rights that cannot be removed by contract. Finally, I briefly discuss technological protection measures and argue that their recent inclusion in the Copyright Act does not necessarily indicate legislative support for private ordering.

Canadian university fair dealing policies, part two point five

Further to my previous post, I have expanded the sample to include the smaller universities that are members of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. Again, the table records whether the school has signed a licence with Access Copyright, whether an updated fair dealing policy is available on the web site, whether such policy is based on AUCC’s policy, and whether the school’s web site includes the AUCC’s guidelines for applying the fair dealing policy.

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Rocky start for post-Access Copyright era? Not quite.

Ariel Katz discusses the transition from Access Copyright blanket licence to in-house compliance management at the University of Toronto. He argues that the so-called upheaval claimed by AC is not much more than the usual hiccups experienced when moving from one system to another. He addresses the ambiguity surrounding the scope of AC’s repertoire (the copyright owners they claim to represent, and the specific works covered by the blanket licence or potential tariff), the use of licences directly negotiated with publishers, and the ostensible conflict between the interpretations of fair dealing held by AC and the university.

UofT, Western decline to renew blanket licence with Access Copyright

It’s just been announced that the University of Toronto and the University of Western Ontario have declined to renew the controversial blanket licence with collective Access Copyright, ending months of speculation over what the universities had planned. The decision follows Western’s overhaul of its copyright policy, with fair dealing guidelines closely modelled on UofT’s. Western had previously been one of the few larger universities that did not have any type of fair dealing policy or guidelines available on its web site.

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