Monday, January 22, 2024

Province of Alberta et al v Access Copyright - Court File T-326-18

 I watched with great interest the two-day summary judgment hearing on January 17 and 18, 2024 in Province of Alberta et al v. Access Copyright. This particular proceeding has been going on for almost five years, and the overall confrontation between these parties for much longer. I would expect, with the inevitable appeals, that it could go on potentially for years to come. There is much that I could say about all this, but I won’t say it now.

I will, however, say this. For the purpose of its so-called equitable claim in this litigation, Access Copyright argued in court that the 2012 amendment to the Copyright Act adding the word “education” to fair dealing was not significant – since it wants to assert that the educators had no basis to rely on greater fair dealing rights and somehow, via equity, should be forced to pay up for their allegedly uncompensated use since then. As Access Copyright wrote in its memorandum for the court, “In sum, as the Plaintiffs themselves made clear, nothing within the Copyright Modernization Act converted fair dealing into free dealing.”

 On the other hand, Access Copyright is loudly and flagrantly contradicting this position outside the court room in its aggressive campaign to get rid of the word “education”, since it asserts on the lobbying front that the addition of this word education has cost it over $200 million dollars.

e.g. “TORONTO [July 13, 2023] Due to changes in fair dealing provisions in the Copyright Act, since 2012, Canadian writers, visual artists, and publishers - an indispensable part of Canada’s culture - have been deprived of over $200 million in unpaid royalties under tariffs certified by the Copyright Board of Canada”

Taking contradictory positions in different forums at the same time is, at the very least, unusual and potentially problematic. Go figure.

BTW, the educators relied very heavily on the SODRAC and York decisions from the SCC, wherein the submissions of Prof. Ariel Katz, Prof. David Lametti as he then was in the SODRAC case, and myself were determinative.