The Supreme Court of Canada provided Canadians with a decision related to Crown copyright on September 26, 2019 (Keatley v. Teranet, 2019 SCC 43). The court found that copyright belongs to the government for the type of documents submitted to the government in this particular case (land surveys). However, the court could not agree about how to interpret the provision, especially as it relates to scope, and issued both majority and concurring opinions. These opinions underscore the need for greater clarity about Crown copyright in Canada.
If the top legal minds in our nation can’t agree on the scope of the Crown copyright provision, how are government employees and other users of government information supposed to apply it in their work? The current state of confusion is not in the public interest.
In my view, the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Keatley v. Teranet supports a review and reform of the Crown copyright regime in Canada.
Commentary related to Keatley v. Teranet
- Amalia Berg, Michael Koch, and David Zitzerman. SCC Clarifies Scope of Crown Copyright. Goodman’s. September 27, 2019. https://www.goodmans.ca/Doc/SCC_Clarifies_Scope_of_Crown_Copyright
- David Bowden and Athar K. Malik. Render Unto Ceasar: Supreme Court of Canada Issues First Decision Considering the Scope of Crown Copyright. Clark Wilson. October 1, 2019. https://www.cwilson.com/render-unto-caesar-supreme-court-of-canada-issues-first-decision-considering-the-scope-of-crown-copyright/
- Natalie Chodoriwsky. Revisiting Teranet v Keatley Surveying: An Analysis of Crown Copyright and its Implications for Canadians. June 3, 2020. IP Law and Technology Program, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University. Blog. https://www.iposgoode.ca/2020/06/revisiting-teranet-v-keatley-surveying-an-analysis-of-crown-copyright-and-its-implications-for-canadians/
- Carys Craig. Crown Copyright is Not Boring. Guest on Stereo Decisis podcast. October 4, 2019. https://blubrry.com/stereodecisis/49607128/crown-copyright-is-not-boring/
- Jeremy de Beer. Can the Government Get Your Copyright? The Supreme Court of Canada Says “Yes.” Guest post on IPKat. October 4, 2019. http://ipkitten.blogspot.com/2019/10/guest-post-can-government-get-your.html?m=1
- Michael Geist. “A Broad and Liberal Interpretation”: The Supreme Court of Canada Expands Copyright Users’ Rights. September 26, 2019. http://www.michaelgeist.ca/2019/09/a-broad-and-liberal-interpretation-the-supreme-court-of-canada-expands-copyright-users-rights/
“decision provides a reminder of the need for statutory reforms of the outdated crown copyright rules that are a poor fit for the modern world”
- Leslie MacKinnon. Government, not the surveyors, owns copyright for surveys, top court rules. iPolitics. September 26, 2019. https://ipolitics.ca/2019/09/26/government-not-the-surveyors-owns-copyright-for-surveys-top-court-rules/
- Jean-Philippe Mikus, Michael Shortt, and Lina Bensaidane. Keatley Surveying v Teranet: Supreme Court Addresses Crown Copyright for the First Time. Fasken. October 2, 2019. https://www.fasken.com/en/knowledge/2019/10/keatley-surveying-v-teranet-supreme-court-addresses-crown-copyright-for-the-first-time/
“Takeaways for copyright users: The uncertainties associated with Crown copyright create difficulties for users. When dealing with documents made available by the government or its private-sector partners, users cannot be certain who owns copyright in these documents: the Crown or the person/organization who created them. This in turn complicates licensing, assignments, and any fair dealing analysis. Unlike copyright owners, copyright users have not obvious mechanism to manage these uncertainties. Depending on the circumstances, they may need to deal with two potential owners.”
- Meera Nair. The Hill to Die On. November 3, 2019. https://fairduty.wordpress.com/2019/11/03/the-hill-to-die-on/
- Kim Nayyer. Of Copyright and Kings: SCC on s 12. October 2, 2019. https://www.canliiconnects.org/en/commentaries/67578
- Rory O’Neill. Canadian Supreme Court Issues First Crown Copyright Ruling. World Intellectual Property Review. October 10, 2019. https://www.worldipreview.com/news/canadian-supreme-court-issues-first-crown-copyright-ruling-18736#.XZyfn3aoKj4.twitter
- Elizabeth Raymer. SCC dismisses appeal of Ontario land surveyors over breach of copyright. September 26, 2019. https://www.canadianlawyermag.com/practice-areas/intellectual-property/scc-dismisses-appeal-of-ontario-land-surveyors-over-breach-of-copyright/304544
- Cristin Schmitz. SCC affirms Ontario owns Crown copyright in plans of survey filed with province’s land registry system. The Lawyers Daily. September 26, 2019. https://www.thelawyersdaily.ca/articles/15550/copyright-ownership-crown?spotlight=1
- Barry Sookman and Julie Parla (McCarthy Tétrault). When Copyright in a Work Transfers to the Crown: Keatley v. Teranet. Blog CyberLex. September 26, 2019. https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=6fbfb939-e648-46ba-838c-df3db13b8805
- Hugh Stephens. Monarch of All I Survey…Copyright Excepted (What are the Purposes and Limits of Government Copyright?). Hugh Stephens Blog. October 19, 2019. https://hughstephensblog.net/2019/10/17/monarch-of-all-i-surveycopyright-excepted-what-are-the-purposes-and-limits-of-government-copyright/
- Tamara Céline Winegust and Naomi Zener (Bereskin & Parr). Crowning Copyright — When Government Works Are Deemed to Belong to the Government. October 3, 2019. https://www.bereskinparr.com/doc/crowning-copyright-when-copyright-works-are-deemed-to-belong-to-the-government