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Canadian licensing agency wins court course against university over copyright

A Canadian federal court has ruled in favour of national licensing agency Access Copyright in its legal dispute with York University, finding that the tertiary institution’s intellectual property guidelines were ‘not soundly based in principle’, reports CBC News.

The university introduced its own copyright guidelines in 2011 after severing ties with Access Canada, which provides institutions access to copyright-protected work and distributes loyalties to creators. The university left due to the change in the licensing body’s tariffs, and created its own guidelines to ensure any copied work for course resources would be small enough to be considered ‘fair dealing’ and exempt from copyright fees.

Access Copyright then sued the school, alleging it was improperly reproducing protected works.

In his ruling, Justice Michael L Phelan found York’s guidelines were ‘unsound’. ‘The fact that the guidelines could allow for copying of up to 100 percent of the work of a particular author, so long as the copying was divided up between courses, indicates that the guidelines are arbitrary and are not soundly based in principle,’ wrote Phelan. ‘York has not satisfied the fairness aspect of the quantitative amount of the dealing. There is no explanation why 10 percent or a single article or any other limitation is fair.’

Some legal commentators have described the ruling as counter to those made by the Canadian Supreme Court in 2012, which loosened the interpretation of fair dealing for education institutions, and cited the wide-reaching consequences of this decision on other Canadian universities which have similar guidelines to York. University of Ottowa law professor Michael Geist said, ‘I think the judge’s interpretation of fair dealing runs counter to multiple Supreme Court of Canada decisions on the issue and the case is certain to be appealed.’


Category: International news