Personanondata has a look at a recent legal decision in Canada’s Supreme Court concerning “fair dealing” (what we call “fair use”) as it applied to music and educational material—similar to the recent Georgia University ruling in the US.

One particular point the judge made is that it’s unrealistic to expect universities to purchase entire copies of textbooks to provide to students if they only needed a small portion of the entire work. He also suggested that claims of financial harm from professors photocopying textbooks was spurious, and that many other factors could affect publishers’ income to a greater extent.

As Personanondata and Financial Post writer Jeremy de Beer point out, this ruling could affect the ongoing Canadian efforts at copyright reform. It could also change the way content is licensed, as Canadian copyright agencies have been trying to push universal use licensing but this may open the door for licensing on an a la carte basis instead.

de Beer writes:

[The] Supreme Court has wisely recognized two essential points. First, that copyright cannot function without the flexibility to deal fairly with protected works in a wide variety of circumstances, especially but not only where no market harms are proven. And second, that a streamlined and consistent licensing framework is best to create a competitive digital market for music, movies, video games and other protected content.

Sometimes it seems as if Canada is simply more sensible overall about some parts of copyright than the US is. Perhaps that’s why it keeps ending up on that content-industry copyright watch list.