Copyright Uncertainty Continues for Students and Teachers

The Writers' Union of Canada
Press Release

York University to Appeal Unequivocal Ruling on Its Copying Practices

August 3, 2017 – The Writers' Union of Canada (TWUC) is committed to working with educators and students toward a respectful new agreement on educational copying, despite York University’s recent announcement that they will appeal their Federal Court loss. York released a statement on July 31, declaring they will appeal the July 12 Federal Court decision, but providing no explanation for why they think the judgement was incorrect.
The court assessed a large volume of evidence, weighed the Supreme Court’s tests for fairness, and found York’s copying practices to be unfair. It dismissed York’s published copying guidelines as “not fair in either their terms or their application,” and ordered the university to pay an established and mandatory tariff.
“The court was exceedingly clear in its decision on these copying practices” said TWUC Chair Marjorie Doyle. “It’s rather difficult to imagine how York thinks it might win an appeal. In the meantime, students are back in classrooms within a month, and their teachers are left in a legal limbo about what they can and can’t do.”
After a poorly defined change to the Copyright Act in 2012, many Canadian schools and post-secondary institutions adopted radically expanded copying practices, abandoning a long-established licensing structure that saw writers and publishers compensated for the use of their work. The court decision against York found the controversial free copying policy to be illegitimate and indefensible.
“This appeal is a bizarre and unfortunate decision by York,” said TWUC Executive Director John Degen. “Canada’s writers and publishers are working hard to strengthen our longstanding partnership with education, and yet we find ourselves heading back to court to once again defend our livelihoods. A student copyright licence costs schools pennies per day, while ongoing court expenses are measured in millions of dollars.”
TWUC reiterates its call for a meaningful review of the Copyright Act when the legislation returns to Parliament’s attention this fall.
“Canada can’t afford to have our copyright policy decided by lengthy court action,” insisted Doyle. “There’s too much at stake for cultural workers and students. We need Parliament to fix what was broken in 2012.”


The Writers’ Union of Canada is our country’s national organization representing more than 2,000 professional authors of books. The Union is dedicated to fostering writing in Canada, and promoting the rights, freedoms, and economic well-being of all writers.  

For additional information:
John Degen, Executive Director
The Writers’ Union of Canada
416.703.8982 ext. 221