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Copyright Victory For Canadians
By Jon Newton, p2pnet.net
(more articles from this author)
2004-03-07
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Canadian researchers and anyone looking for "inexpensive access to justice" won a landmark victory, yesterday, when the Supreme Court of Canada ruled 9-0 that people wanting to make a single copy of any kind of material for research purposes in any field don't have to pay a licensing fee. And in a second key finding, the court said works produced through 'sweat' but involving very little creativity - ie, telephone books - don't enjoy copyright protection, although more complex works involving 'skill and judgment that is not trivial' do.

The ruling will probably affect future cases involving music, electronic communications and the Internet, says a Globe & Mail report here, going on:

"In particular, the court found that equipment owners are not liable for copyright infringement simply because they authorize the use of their equipment to someone who then violates a copyright."

The decision was a blow to three legal publishing houses that claimed they were deprived of licensing fees on more than 100,000 pages copied each year at the Law Society of Upper Canada's library by lawyers and students, says the story.

"The Supreme Court said they are not entitled to fees on these single copies. However, the court did grant them a small victory by agreeing that the headnotes, case summaries and indexes they prepare and append to judicial rulings are protected."

Requiring that an original work be the product of an exercise of skill and judgment is a workable, yet fair, standard, the Globe report quotes Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin as saying.

"Research must be given a large and liberal interpretation in order to ensure that users' rights are not unduly constrained, and is not limited to non-commercial and private contexts," McLachlin said.

The ruling will likely affect future cases involving music, electronic communications and the Internet. In particular, the court found that equipment owners are not liable for copyright infringement simply because they authorize the use of their equipment to someone who then violates a copyright.

Before an owner or distributor can be found liable, the court said, there must be proof they collaborated with the violator.

Roger Hughes, a lawyer for the plaintiffs - CCH Canadian Ltd, Canada Law Book Inc, and Carswell, a division of Thomson Canada Ltd - said anyone hoping to exploit the ruling for commercial purposes is making a mistake, adds the story.


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