Copyright

Litigation

Law Reform

Titled Innovation and Balance, CIPPIC's submission to the Government of Canada consultation on Copyright and Artificial Intelligence and IoT offers a set of cautious and balanced recommendations for maintaining Canada's copyright framework in the face of new technologies. CIPPIC's articling students Yuan Stevens and Liwah Keller, supported by a team of CIPPIC interns, took the lead in drafting CIPPIC's submissions.

The Supreme Court of Canada today released its decision in York University v. Access Copyright, 2021 SCC 32.  The case addressed two issues: whether Access Copyright’s Copyright Board tariff is mandatory, and whether copying by York pursuant to its Guidelines constitutes fair dealing.  Both courts below had ruled the tariff not mandatory and the Guidelines unfair.

In a unanimous decision penned by Justice Abella (in her last case on the bench), the Court found that the tariff was not mandatory and so was unenforceable against York, and in light of the absence of any real legal issue between York and Access Copyright, that it would be inappropriate to decide the fair dealing issue. 

However, the Court cautioned that this result should not “should not be construed as endorsing the reasoning of” the courts below, citing “some significant jurisprudential problems with those aspects of their judgments that warrant comment.”  The Court went on to “correct” those “errors” [para. 87-88]

Highlights of that analysis include:

CIPPIC is seeking an energetic and enthusiastic early career lawyer to support our public interest mandate in the area of copyright law and policy.

CIPPIC’s inaugural Copyright Law and Policy Fellow will work closely with CIPPIC’s team of staff lawyers and student interns on a range of copyright law and policy matters in Canada and beyond. Specifically, the Fellow will: 

  • provide legal support to libraries and archives in Canada and other countries to support their efforts to digitize and otherwise improve the accessibility of their collections;
  • work with organizations promoting greater accessibility to copyrighted works to address legal questions;
  • develop guides and other educational materials on copyright law and policy to benefit a range of stakeholders;
  • support CIPPIC's staff lawyers in preparing submissions to courts, government consultative processes, and other bodies on questions of copyright law and policy.

Application Deadline Extended: July 30, 2021

supreme court of canada
"supreme court of canada" by jacob earl is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

CIPPIC has filed its intervener factum in the Supreme Court in York University v Access Copyright, SCC No, 39222, an important case addressing the scope of educational fair dealing. CIPPIC argues that a purposive interpretation of fair dealing that embodies Charter values:/p>

  • recognizes that copyright is right to exclude, not simply be paid;
  • identifies the relevant perspective as that of the ultimate user;
  • recognizes universities’ unique role as cradles of authorship and innovation; 
  • appreciates educational institutions' role in society where truth is contested; and
  • appreciates that intermediaries and commercial actors are aspects of marketplaces that facilitate the socially beneficial exercise of both owners’ and users’ rights.

David Fewer acted for CIPPIC.  CIPPIC was supported by a broad team of students, including articling student Bo Kruk and interns Sarah Crothers, Tina Dekker, Matthew Akl, and research assistant Courtney Wong.

The hearing of this appeal is currently set for May 21, 2021.

CIPPIC’s submission (The Public's Domain) to the government consultation on copyright term extension places the public domain at the heart of Canada’s copyright system.  Given the costs of term extension to Canada’s copyright ecosystem, CIPPIC argues for a form of term extension that offers something back in the form of a registry of works.  Copyright is rare among forms of intellectual property in that protection arises automatically without the need to declare one’s rights.  This means that copyright lacks a functional registry akin to the Patent Registry or the Trademarks Registry.  A Copyright Registry would provide Canadians with greater notice of both protected content and content soon to join the public domain.

CIPPIC articling student Bo Kruk co-authored the submission with David Fewer and with research assistance from CIPPIC interne Nadine Eltawdy.

CIPPIC was granted leave to intervene before the Federal Court of Appeal in Teksavvy Solutions Inc v Bell Media Inc, FCA File No A-440-19, an appeal of an order compelling Canada's ISPs to block access to a website accused of copyright infringement. The order under appeal is novel, and if approved will have far-reaching implications for free expression and balanced copyright, creating an extraordinary new censorship power that the applicants have sought in trade negotiations, at parliament, and at the CRTC, without success.

The intervention order itself adopts a thoughtful, but decidedly novel approach in its application of the Federal Court of Appeal's uniquely rigorous test for public interest intervention. As set out in CIPPIC's initial motion to intervene, dated February 3, 2020 (paras 5-12) and affirmed by the case management judge in a brief and pointed direction dated April 24, 2020, the test for intervention requires extensive coordination among different public interest interveners to avoid duplication. In light of the interveners' demonstrably successful efforts to coordinate, the Court took the exceptional step of merging many of the parties, allowing CIPPIC to file a joint intervention with our close colleagues at the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA). The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) was also granted leave to elaborate on its detailed proposed submissions regarding the need to account for freedom of expression when issuing orders that interfere with access to expressive content. The intervention order is also innovative for its willingness to depart from a categorical approach to classifying proposed interveners, and instead consider the particular characteristics of specific parties and their historical record of intervention. This allows for a more thoughtful and contextual approach to granting intervener status, while interveners will need to be more cautious in implementing the Court's conditions of intervention or risk developing a negative track record and threatening future interventions. Three other parties seeking to intervene on behalf of intellectual property rights holders were also granted leave to intervene, and merged into a single intervention. CIPPIC is represented by Alyssa Tomkins and James Plotkin of Caza Saikaley, SRL/LLP. UPDATE: On August 3, 2020, CIPPIC and CIRA filed their joint Facta. A hearing has not yet been scheduled in this matter.

Image source: Stanislav Lvovsky, "Censored", Flickr, September 28, 2015, CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

FAQ: Copyright Trolls

FAQ on privacy and copyright issues raised by photography-related activities.

CETA


Introduction

In 2002, the European Commission and the Government of Canada agreed to “design a new type of forward-looking, wide-ranging bilateral trade agreement covering…new generation issues and outstanding trade barriers.”

On May 6, 2009, Canada and the European Union (EU) announced the launch of formal negotiations towards the new trade and investment agreement, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

CETA is intended to build upon previous economic cooperation agreements between Canada and the EU, starting with the 1976 Framework Agreement for Commercial and Economic Co-operation, as well as the 1998 EU-Canada Trade Initiative.

While the scope of CETA is broad, this F.A.Q. will focus on intellectual property issues.

This F.A.Q. was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, or "ACTA", is a controversial trade agreement negotiated by a number of nations, including Canada. ACTA addresses standards of enforcement of intellectual property rights. ACTA's content has the potential to impact civil liberties and divert public resources towards the enforcement of private rights.

Bill C-61 was a bill to amend Canada's Copyright Act. The bill died on the order paper with the election of 2008. However, the present government has indicated in its Throne Speech that it intends again to introduce legislation to amend the Copyright Act. Accordingly, we keep this FAQ available to the public.

Over the past few years, file-sharing - i.e., the sharing of files over peer-to-peer (P2P) networks - has become a popular way for music lovers to sample and gather music from a wide range of performers. However, most of the music downloaded and shared by consumers is copyrighted and hence, subject to laws limiting the rights of consumers to reproduce and distribute it.

Digital Rights Management (DRM), also sometimes called ECMS, or electronic copyright management systems, are technologies designed to automatically manage rights in relation to information. This can include preventing copyright works and other information from being accessed or copied without authorization and establishing and enforcing license terms with individuals.

Copyright is a system of laws for promoting both the creation of and access to artistic, literary, musical, dramatic and other creative works. It is usually presented as a balance between promoting the public interest in the encouragement of the creation and dissemination of works of the arts and intellect, and obtaining a just reward for the copyright holder

The broadcast flag is a Digital Rights Management (DRM) system for controlling consumer treatment of high-definition television (HDTV) broadcast content.

Bill C-60 was a proposal to amend Canada's Copyright Act. The Bill died on the order paper with the fall of the Martin government in 2005. However, the issues that motivated the government to table this Bill remain with us.

Blacklock’s Reporter v AG Canada Case opens in Federal Court

On March 4, 2004 the Supreme Court of Canada released its decision in the case of Law Society of Upper Canada v. CCH Limited [2004] S.C.J. No. 12, (2004) 236 D.L.R. (4th) 395 holding (i) that the Copyright Act's fair dealing exception should be liberally interpreted to prevent undue restraint of users' rights and (ii) that the provision of self-service photocopiers does not equal an infringement of copyright.

The Supreme Court of Canada heard arguments on Dec.3, 2003 from Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and music industry representatives in an important case that will decide, among other things, the extent to which Canadian ISPs are liable for content flowing through their networks, and the extent to which foreign actors who target communications to Canadians may be liable under the Canadian Copyright Act.

Edit:   Decision released! (November 26)
 
In a 7-2 decision, the Court upheld the Copyright Board's decision to characterize broadcast-incidental copies as "reproductions" for the purposes of the Copyright Act, but overturned the Board's method of calculating fees payable for such activities.  The majority found no reason to depart from long-standing caselaw on the character of ephemeral copies as reproductions for the purposes of the Act, and concluded that the separation of synchronization and broadcast‑incidental licences does not offend technological neutrality or impose new layers of protection or fees based solely on technological change.  However, the majority concluded that the Board failed to consider the principles of technological neutrality and balance in valuing the ephemeral licence.  The Court concluded that balance between user and right‑holder interests requires that the Board assess the respective contributions of the user and the copyright‑protected works to the value enjoyed by the user. Factors relevant to this balance include:
  • the risks taken by the user,
  • the extent of the investment made by the user in the new technology, and
  • the nature of the copyright protected work’s use in the new technology.

National Post/Warman v. Fournier, Federal Court of Appeal, File Nos. A-394-12 & A-395-12

Voltage v. Doe, Federal Court, 2013

CIPPIC has filed a Statement of Defense on behalf of its client, Geolytica, in response to a lawsuit filed by the Canada Post Corporation in the Federal Court of Canada (File No. T-519-12) claiming that it owns copyright in its database of postal codes and that Geolytica has infringed that copyright by "crowd-sourcing" data for its own database of postal codes mapped to street addresses.

The case raises fundamental copyright issues, including the scope of protection afforded compilations of data, the subsistence of copyright in factual address identifiers such as postal codes, and the availability of defenses such as fair dealing to developers of research tools such as Geolytica's Canadian Postal Code Geocoded Dataset.  The case will have significant implications for downstream innovators and analysts looking at using datasets for research and to facilitate the research of others.

 

Copyright Pentalogy (SCC, 2012)

Following through on its threat, the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) launched a lawsuit in the Federal Court (Trial Division), in Toronto Ontario, on February 10, 2004 against 29 unnamed alleged music file-sharers.

Canada's 2010 Digital Economy Consultation

To better understand the basics of copyright law, Prof. Samuel E. Trosow (Western Ontario University)
presents to us his master class: Introduction to Copyright Law and prospects for new legislation.

In 2005, parliament considered revisions to the Copyright Act in order to ensure that Canada's copyright framework remained relevant in the rapidly changing digital environment. The Canadian government introduced a long-awaited bill to amend the Copyright Act on June 20, 2005.
On November 3, 2004, CIPPIC Associate Alex Cameron presented a brief to the Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology on Bill S-9, proposed amendments to the Copyright Act that would give photographers first ownership of copyright in the photographs they take.

As Parliament considers legislated protection of Digital Rights Management (DRM) technologies (designed to detect and stop copying of digital works), the Privacy Commissioner of Canada has indicated her intent to "initiate a dialogue" with the departments of Heritage Canada and Industry Canada "to ensure that privacy risks" associated with any copyright legislation "are addressed." Some of the Commissioner's provincial counterparts have signaled their support of her initiative.

On May 12, 2004 the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, chaired by Sarmite D. Bulte, M.P. released an interim report listing a number of recommended reforms to Canadian copyright law. The first round of hearings for the report were launched in October 2003 where the Committee heard from a panel of invited witnesses including representatives from Canadian Heritage, Industry Canada, the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, the Canadian Association of Internet Providers and the Canadian Motion Picture Distributors Association among others. As a result of these consultations, the Committee came up with a number of recommendations.

The Canadian government is considering amending Canada's copyright law. CIPPIC is greatly concerned with the proposals and recommendations contained in the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage's Report on Copyright Reform.

In September 2003, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage ("Heritage Committee") began its review of the Section 92 report published by Industry Canadain October 2002.