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CAUT will seek to intervene in Supreme Court decision to hear copyright appeals

(Ottawa – October 16 , 2020) Following this week’s announcement by the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) to hear appeals in protracted copyright litigation between York University and collective licencing agency Access Copyright, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) will seek to intervene to voice concerns of post-secondary teachers, researchers and students.

“This case will be critically important to determine if the Supreme Court meant what it said in previous decisions and re-affirm the public interest position of the education sector,” said CAUT Executive Director David Robinson.

The Federal Court of Appeal’s ruling, which will now come under the scrutiny of the Supreme Court, stated that Access Copyright cannot enforce its tariffs against York University or any non-licenced user, a clear recognition that educational institutions can opt out of collective licensing arrangements and choose other legal routes to copy and use works, including through site licensing, open access materials, transactional licences and through fair dealing. The Federal Court decision, however, failed to correct the lower court’s flawed comments on fair dealing. The Federal Court decision was appealed by both York University and Access Copyright.

“CAUT will urge the Supreme Court to decisively rule on what constitutes fair dealing for education purposes, and preserve the balance resulting from its previous decisions that enables public access to works, while balancing the rights of authors and creators to reasonable compensation,” added Robinson. “To do otherwise would render the fair dealing exception illusory for post-secondary education, spelling huge costs for universities and colleges, and backtracking to the past, rather than looking to a future which is sustainable and fair for both creators and users of copyrighted works.” 

CAUT and the Canadian Federation of Students intervened at the Federal Court of Canada, arguing against mandatory tariffs and the lower court’s ruling on York University’s fair dealing purposes.

CAUT represents 72,000 academic staff that produce tens of thousands of articles, books and other works every year, making CAUT one of the country’s largest creator groups in Canada.


Media contact:

Lisa Keller, Communications Officer, Canadian Association of University Teachers; (c) 613-222-3530;