Supreme Court decision leaves necessary copyright fixes to Parliament

Copyright reform urgently needed to ensure creators are compensated for the use of their work.

The Supreme Court of Canada’s July 30th dismissal of appeals by York University and Access Copyright of lower court rulings leaves publishers and authors in a position where they have no practical recourse to address rampant uncompensated copying by educational institutions. The education sector’s overly broad interpretation of fair dealing since 2012 has resulted in devastating losses to the livelihoods of creators and the integrity of copyright-protected works.

“Canadian literary publishers invest in the creative work of authors to produce a wide array of books—the stories, poems, plays, and graphic novels that together make up our vibrant and diverse literary culture,” said Karen Haughian, Chair of the Literary Press Group. “Without a legal framework that protects against unauthorized copying, Canadian cultural production is at risk.”

On behalf of our membership—Canadian-owned and –operated literary publishers across the country—the LPG joins the Association of Canadian Publishers and other groups of creators in calling on the Government of Canada to enact urgently needed reforms to the broken copyright system. Publishers and authors must have accessible, effective remedies for copyright infringement. Litigating case by case against large educational institutions, when their copying involves a massive number of courses and is done systematically from kindergarten through university, is simply not an option for the vast majority of rightsholders.

“As centres of knowledge production, universities should recognize the moral imperative to pay for the intellectual property they copy so freely, but their actions show that they don’t,” said Laura Rock Gaughan, Executive Director of the Literary Press Group, “While we’re disappointed with this legal decision, it clarifies the need for the government to ensure that the fair dealing provision is truly fair and that creators’ rights are enforceable.”

About the Literary Press Group

The LPG is a nonprofit association that represents Canadian-owned and -operated literary book publishers from coast to coast. Our members produce books by some of Canada’s most innovative and creative writers, giving readers access to diverse voices that have not been well represented in mainstream publishing. In addition to their cultural contributions, LPG members are small businesses that support local economies through the full range of their business activities, from editorial, design, and production to marketing, sales, and distribution.