Big Copyright Win in Canada: Court Rules Fair Use Beats Digital Locks

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Big Copyright Win in Canada: Court Rules Fair Use Beats Digital Locks (



from the judgement-day dept.

Michael Geist
Pig Hogger (Slashdot reader #10,379) reminds us that in Canadian law, “fair use” is called “fair dealing” — and that Canadian digital media users just enjoyed a huge win. Canadian user rights champion Michael Geist writes:

The Federal Court has issued a landmark decision on copyright’s anti-circumvention rules which concludes that digital locks should not trump fair dealing. Rather, the two must co-exist in harmony, leading to an interpretation that users can still rely on fair dealing even in cases involving those digital locks.

The decision could have enormous implications for libraries, education, and users more broadly as it seeks to restore the copyright balance in the digital world. The decision also importantly concludes that merely requiring a password does not meet the standard needed to qualify for copyright rules involving technological protection measures.

Canada’s 2012 “Copyright Modernization Act” protected anti-copying technology from circumvention, Geist writes — and Blacklock’s Reports had then “argued that allowing anyone other than original subscriber to access articles constituted copyright infringement.”

The court found that the Blacklock’s legal language associated with its licensing was confusing and that fair dealing applied here as well…

Blacklock’s position on this issue was straightforward: it argued that its content was protected by a password, that passwords constituted a form of technological protection measure, and that fair dealing does not apply in the context of circumvention. In other words, it argued that the act of circumvention (in this case of a password) was itself infringing and it could not be saved by fair dealing. The Federal Court disagreed on all points…

For years, many have argued for a specific exception to clarify that circumvention was permitted for fair dealing purposes, essentially making the case that users should not lose their fair dealing rights the moment a rights holder places a digital lock on their work. The Federal Court has concluded that the fair dealing rights have remained there all along and that the Copyright Act’s anti-circumvention rules must be interpreted in a manner consistent with those rights.

“The case could still be appealed, but for now the court has restored a critical aspect of the copyright balance after more than a decade of uncertainty and concern.”

What sin has not been committed in the name of efficiency?


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