York University Statement on the recent Supreme Court of Canada decision in Access Copyright v. York University


York University is carefully reviewing the full decision of the Supreme Court of Canada with respect to whether Access Copyright Tariffs approved by the Copyright Board of Canada are binding on institutions who choose not to be licensed on the approved terms and whether York’s Fair Dealing Guidelines are “fair.”

The University is pleased that the Court affirmed the voluntary nature of the tariff and the ability of educational institutions to obtain license rights from other sources.  This confirms the flexibility of universities in how they manage copyright.

On the subject of the appeal on the Fair Dealing Guidelines, while the Court did not award the declaratory relief sought, it has reinforced that fair dealing remains crucial to actualizing users’ rights in education. The Court specifically stated it did not endorse the fair dealing analysis of the courts below and provided helpful guidance for fair dealing analysis going forward, including the importance of guidelines. Fair dealing maintains the proper balance between the rights of the copyright owner and the interests of users, who require access to copyrighted material to pursue their research, studies and/or education. York’s Fair Dealing Guidelines were designed to reflect that balance.