Access Copyright v. York University Appeal Decision Released

On April 22, 2020, Canada’s Federal Court of Appeal released its decision in the ongoing Access Copyright v. York University case.

On April 22, 2020, the Federal Court of Appeal (FCA) released its decision in the ongoing Access Copyright v. York University case. The initial decision in this case was released in July 2017, with Access Copyright winning on all major issues. York University appealed the 2017 decision, and the appeal case was heard by the FCA in March 2019.

In the FCA’s appeal decision, the judge found that copyright tariffs released by the Copyright Board of Canada are not mandatory or enforceable for post-secondary institutions which is a positive outcome for Canadian universities and colleges. “This latest decision” writes Michael Geist, “addresses the mandatory tariff issue, confirming that educational institutions can opt-out of the Access Copyright licence as appropriate and that any claims of infringement will be left to copyright owners to address, not Access Copyright.”

In both the federal and appeal decisions, the judges took issue with certain aspects of York’s Fair Dealing Copyright Guidelines. Although the appeal decision applies to York University and is based on York’s specific practices and situation, the University of Saskatchewan is reviewing this decision and participating in national conversations to fully understand its potential impact. In the meantime, the University of Saskatchewan Fair Dealing Guidelines remain in effect.*

York University and Access Copyright have until June 21, 2020 (60 days from April 22) to formally seek leave to appeal the FCA decision. If appealed, the case will be brought to the Supreme Court of Canada.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact the USask Copyright Coordinator at or 306-966-8817. For additional details about the appeal decision, the Director of the University of Alberta Copyright Office provides clear and helpful commentary in this article.

*This paragraph was adapted with permission from this University of Ottawa news post.

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