May 19, 2022

Canada: “Copyright Collective Can’t Force Tariffs on University, Supreme Court Rules”

From The Canadian Press/CTV:

The Supreme Court of Canada says a copyright collective cannot force York University to pay specific tariffs for the use of published works in the classroom.

In its unanimous decision today, the high court says the law does not empower the Access Copyright collective to enforce royalty payments set out in a tariff approved by a federal board if a user chooses not to be bound by a licence.

Read the Complete Article

From the Canadian Association of Research Libraries:

The unanimous and unusually prompt decision, delivered by Justice Abella, dismissed both appeals. Reflecting 85 years of legislative policy and jurisprudence, and reaffirming its previous stance on the importance of user rights as part of a balanced copyright regime, the SCC confirmed that Access Copyright’s tariffs are not mandatory. A tariff binds the collective society in setting a maximum amount for rates, but does not bind a user who has not chosen the collective’s licence to pay compensation under the tariff. This means that universities and their libraries can choose how they manage copyright compliance.

The Court declined to issue a declaration on York University’s fair dealing guidelines, pointing out that, since the tariff was not mandatory, there was no “live dispute” and that Access Copyright has no basis to sue for infringement. The SCC did, however, opt to point out some important errors made in lower courts in assessing fair dealing, including clarification that fairness must be addressed by assessing individual students’ uses of fair dealing rather than aggregate copying by an institution.

Read the Complete Statement

Direct to Full Text of Supreme Court of Canada Decision

Statement from York University

Statement From Access Copyright

UPDATE: Statement From the Authors Alliance

UPDATE: Supreme Court of Canada Supports York University Appeal (via Public Knowledge Project)

UPDATE: Supreme Court of Canada Reaffirms Public Access as a “Primary Goal of Copyright” (Internet Archive)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.