Back to School? Be Cautious of a New Copyright Decision

With the start of the school year around the corner, university students are probably looking to save money on textbooks.  One way students could save money was photocopying ten percent or less of textbooks.  Under the concept of “fair dealing”, Canadian universities allowed this behaviour. As long as a person copies a work for “private”,  “educational” or “research” purposes, and there are no alternatives to copying, fair dealing permits an individual to legally reproduce a certain portion of a copyrighted work. However with a recent Federal Court case, this 10% exception is no longer available to students.

In Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency v. York University, the Federal Court ruled, among other things, that York University’s 10% exception was “arbitrary” and “not based on principle”. The court stated the 10% exception could permit individuals to photocopy whole stories in anthologies but bar people from photocopying the same story standing alone.

With the court determining 10% to be “arbitrary”, it will be interesting to see what guidelines various Canadian universities adapt. Will universities set a a lower blanket exception, like 5%, or adjust the exception based on the source materials? Would Canadian courts accept these exceptions as complying with the “fair dealing” test?

Will it is uncertain what types of guidelines universities will adapt, it is certain students will be feeling the effects of this decision come this September.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s