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CAUT to argue on fair dealing, copyright tariffs before Supreme Court

(Ottawa – May 19, 2021) Copyright is once again before the Supreme Court of Canada on May 21st, where the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), together with the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), will make arguments on the landmark case between York University and collective licencing agency, Access Copyright.

Legal counsel for CAUT and CFS will voice concerns of post-secondary teachers, researchers and students, says CAUT Executive Director David Robinson. “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 between enabling student and educator access to works, while respecting the rights of authors and creators to reasonable compensation.”

The Supreme Court will scrutinize the latest judgment in the case from the Federal Court of Appeal, which was appealed by both York University and Access Copyright. The Appeal 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 what CAUT considers to be the lower court’s flawed comments on fair dealing.

 “The case could impact post-secondary institutions, teachers, and students in profound ways because so much of what constitutes ‘knowledge’ is copyrighted,” says CFS National Treasurer Marie Dolcetti-Koros. “Teacher/student relationships epitomize the balance between just rewards for creators and the public interest in the encouragement and dissemination of intellectual works. As both creators and users of educational materials we can appreciate better than anyone what is fair because the works we often deal with come from our own communities of scholars.”

CAUT and CFS will argue that mandatory tariffs and any restrictions on fair dealing will reduce the quality of education and research. CAUT represents 72,000 academic staff that create and share knowledge. CFS represents over 500,000 post-secondary education students.

More information about the case is available on the Supreme Court of Canada’s website. Those interested can watch a live webcast of the hearing on May 21 beginning at 9:30 a.m. EST.