Eight years and four months after Access Copyright brought legal action against York University in the Federal Court, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) published their unanimous decision on the applicability of copyright tariffs. They also — although this does not count as precedent — commented yet again on the correct interpretation of the fair dealing factors in an educational context. My set of blog posts discussing the various filings and decisions can be found here.Continue reading
The Supreme Court decision in the Access Copyright / York case has been released. It can be found at Lexum.
As I had suspected, the Court dismissed the appeals of both parties and upheld the verdicts of the Federal Court of Appeal – namely, that the tariff proposed by Access Copyright and set by the Copyright Board is not automatically binding on all institutional users of copyrighted material, and thus, since the tariff is not binding, there is no need at this time to make a declaration that York’s Fair Dealing Guidelines are representative of fair dealing.
However, while the guidelines issue is moot, the Supreme Court took issue with how the Federal Court and Federal Court of Appeal described and interpreted fair dealing in the institutional context. While the Court’s statements on this is issue are “obiter dicta”, they are nonetheless important.
“While I therefore agree that the requested Declaration should not be granted, this should not be construed as endorsing the reasoning of the Federal Court and Federal Court of Appeal on the fair dealing issue. There are some significant jurisprudential problems with those aspects of their judgments that warrant comment.” (para. 87)
I will discuss the Supreme Court’s decision in more detail in my next post.
The Supreme Court of Canada are publishing their decision on the Access Copyright v. York University copyright case on Friday, July 29. I’ve been following this case and writing about it on my blog since the action was filed eight (!) years ago: see https://fairdealingineducation.com/tag/york-university/
Considering the decision is coming only two months and some days after the hearing, I expect the SCC will uphold the verdicts of the Federal Court of Appeals that the tariff is not mandatory, and that York’s Fair Dealing policy does not accurately reflect the interpretation of fair dealing that the SCC has previously put forth. Maybe they will add a bit of commentary of their own, I don’t know. But I don’t think we’re going to be falling out of our chairs.
Michael Geist’s analysis of the FCA’s decision is here.
In summary, the FCA ruled that the interim tariff requested by Access Copyright, and granted by the Copyright Board, is not mandatory; and that copies made under York’s fair dealing guidelines (“Guidelines”) are not necessarily fair dealing. (para. 4) Continue reading
The Federal Court of Appeals has released its decision in the appeal of the Access Copyright v. York case. Howard Knopf has helpfully provided links to the order and reasons in his blog Excess Copyright.
Long story short: The interim tariff is not mandatory, but York’s fair dealing guidelines cannot be declared as representative of fair dealing.
A more in-depth discussion of the decision will be posted on this blog sometime during the week.
Here is Michael Geist’s post on the decision.
Author’s note: The Access Copyright v. York University lawsuit was the subject of the very first post I ever made. In fact, it was the impetus for creating this blog. After four years, part one of the lawsuit has been decided. Here is my analysis.
On July 12, 2017, the Federal Court of Canada handed down its long-awaited decision in Access Copyright’s lawsuit against York University (York), originally filed on April 13, 2013. The suit related to York’s copyright policy and whether their fair dealing guidelines accurately reflected the test set out by the Supreme Court. A summary of Access Copyright’s claims can be found here.
The result was a complete loss for York on all points, and an order to pay retroactive royalties as set by the Copyright Board in its Interim Tariff. However, as the decision is likely to be appealed, I’d like to discuss here what will we be (or should be) the main points of legal contention before the higher court. I will focus here on the fair dealing analysis (starting at para. 249) rather than the mandatory tariff, which is an issue discussed in detail by Howard Knopf and Ariel Katz.
Howard Knopf has reported that the Access Copyright v. York University suit has been bifurcated by the Federal Court — that is, split into two phases that will be heard separately. He has posted Aalto CMJ’s bifurcation order here. The order was requested by York.
In the first phase, documentary and oral discovery (the gathering of evidence) will take place with respect to York’s use (or authorization of use) of the copyrighted works enumerated in Schedule “B” of Access Copyright’s Statement of Claim, as well as York’s counterclaim seeking a declaration that the proposed tariff is voluntary and that uses of copyrighted works that fall within the scope of their Fair Dealing Guidelines are fair dealing.
In the second phase, if necessary, the Court will consider Access Copyright’s claims related to other acts of reproduction that York may have engaged in or authorized, and which are not set out in Schedule “B” but may be discovered during the course of the proceedings.
Access Copyright argued against the bifurcation, on the grounds that it will cause prejudice to their attempts to show that York’s Fair Dealing Guidelines do not reflect the legal scope of fair dealing, and that York has engaged in or authorized copying that falls outside of the ambit of the guidelines. They contend that the initial focusing on the 87 enumerated works will interfere with their ability to discover copying that has taken place beyond what has already been alleged.
Aalto CMJ’s bifurcation order attempts a compromise between York’s view that there are far too many instances of fair copying to be considered in one proceeding, and AC’s view that its ability to discover further copying is compromised. To that end, York will be required to produce the volume and types of copying that it tracks, and provide samples of the copying.
Update: I have made some revisions to the paper, adding Grant MacEwan University to the sample, correcting Queen’s University’s Access Copyright relationship, and removing typographical errors. Much thanks to Scott Day and Mark Swartz for bringing these oversights to my attention. (May 17, 2013)
I have recently made available the results of a project I have been working on since January. I analyzed the fair dealing policies of the top 40 Canadian universities by student enrollment (excluding Quebec) for content and to determine whether there is consistency among the universities, and any relationship between the content in the schools’ copyright web sites and whether they have signed an Access Copyright licence.
The paper is available at the following link: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2263034
This research is particularly timely because of the recent lawsuit brought by Access Copyright against York University, the basis of which is York’s allegedly ineffective fair dealing policy.
The past three years have seen a number of changes in the area of copyright law, particularly in the area of education. As a result, Canadian universities have had to make policy decisions to account for these changes and the resulting expansion of fair dealing rights. The content and consistency of the resulting policies may have a significant effect on the future interpretation of fair dealing rights. In this paper I analyze the current state of fair dealing policies and supporting information found on university web sites. I conclude that an ideal fair dealing policy is open ended and flexible, and incorporates mention of the significant elements of copyright legislation, court decisions, and other areas of law, in a way that is accessible to its intended audience of faculty and instructors.
A copy of Access Copyright’s Statement of Claim against York University can be found here. It was filed in Federal Court on April 8, 2013 (see Court Docket). It is important to note that Access Copyright is not suing York merely because York is operating outside the Interim Tariff and outside of any licence with the collective. Rather, the allegation is that York educators reproduced copyrighted works that are within Access Copyright’s repertoire, and that this reproduction is not fair dealing. This reproduction causes York to be subject to the Interim Tariff, and obliges them to pay all royalties associated with the tariff. Continue reading