Copyright Report, #13 – Access Copyright v. York University

This is not a full roundup of copyright news, but for those keeping an eye on copyright issues in higher education broadly, you’ll want to know about the Federal Court of Canada decision in the Access Copyright v. York University case.

Access Copyright is the Canadian equivalent to the Copyright Clearance Center in the U.S.; a central point for licensing many materials for educational copying uses. For a while, there was a compulsory license that all higher ed institutions in Canada paid to Access Copyright yearly. But the law on educational “fair dealing” (a concept in Canadian law similar to “fair use” in the U.S.) changed a few years ago, and subsequently several Universities stopped paying the annual license fee. Instead, they began to rely on a combination of fair dealing and payment of individual licenses, sometimes through the Copyright Clearance Center.

Access Copyright sued York University over these practices a couple years ago (background from Canadian Lawyer) and earlier this week, the court issued its opinion in the case. It’s an almost complete loss for York, but many commentators have pointed out that it is a pretty large departure from the last several years’ fair dealing jurisprudence of the Supreme Court of Canada. It sounds like a lot of Canadian universities are worried about their options right now, but many are expecting an appeal. Some good analysis from the always-thorough Michael Geist, a slightly-shorter piece that is apparently what Howard Knopf produces when he doesn’t “have a lot time”; and a shorter, very cogent piece from Lisa DiValentino.

Not much immediate impact in the United States, but there might be some interesting long-term implications for the Copyright Clearance Center’s business models in Canada – and perforce, the U.S. It’s also interesting to compare against the strong win for educational copying in India earlier this year.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *