Supreme Court decision on fair dealing

Today the Supreme Court of Canada determined that 30 second previews of songs offered by online music services constitute “fair dealing for the purpose of research”.  The Court addressed important principles of “users’ rights”, and re-stated its finding in the oft-quoted CCH Canadian Ltd. v. Law Society of Upper Canada case, that 

“‘research’ must be given a large and liberal interpretation in order to ensure that users’ rights are not unduly constrained”. 

The Supreme Court has therefore again come down on the side of users with an accommodating approach to fair dealing. 

The decision remains an important reminder, however, that an analysis of fair dealing is always highly fact-specific and case-by-case.  In a previous post, we cautioned that when the issue is fair dealing online, there is no “quick test” and no “one size fits all”.

Margot Patterson

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