Supreme Court of Canada Supports York University Appeal
The Supreme Court of Canada has issued an important decision in the longstanding dispute between the collective society Access Copyright and York University over paying royalties on course readings. Although the high court did not squarely address the practical effects of the ruling, it affirmed that Access Copyright’s tariffs are not mandatory and that fair dealing can apply in such circumstances. York stated it was pleased by how the ruling affirmed “the flexibility of universities in how they manage copyright.” Eminent legal scholar Michael Geist declared that the “decision removes any doubt that the Supreme Court remains strongly supportive of user’s rights in copyright.”
With the case involving students being unfairly asked to pay royalties for readings that are available through their library or are open access, PKP’s John Willinsky and Stanford undergraduate Catherine Baron conducted a study of Canadian university syllabuses, finding that over 90 percent of the assigned readings were from such academic sources, while recommending a three-step syllabus rule to help libraries prevent students from being doubled charged. The study, to be published in the Canadian Journal of Higher Education, was referenced in a Factum submitted to the Supreme Court by Ariel Katz, although it was not, alas, cited in the Court’s ruling.
At the Public Knowledge Project (PKP), we are focused on making results of publicly funded research freely available through open access policies, and on developing strategies for making this possible including software solutions.