CanLII wades into SOCAN v. Bell dispute


The Canadian Legal Information Institute and the Federation of Law Societies of Canada filed a joint motion yesterday asking the Supreme Court of Canada to grant them leave to intervene in a copyright case that could determine how the word “research” is defined in Canadian courts.

canliiThe not-for-profit organization is interested in SOCAN v. Bell because the copyright case, which is to be heard by the Supreme Court in December, will provide guidance on the meaning of “research” as a fair dealing user right under the Copyright Act.

If you are a member of the legal community in this country, a journalist, or researcher you probably use the organization’s web site, CanLII.org, quite a bit.

So when the when the providers of this free repository of court documents from across Canada seek leave to intervene in a Supreme Court of Canada case, it is bound to turn a few heads and make sure the case is closely followed by the professionals and the media. News of CanLII’s application lit up the legal twitterverse yesterday afternoon.

“I am a member of the CanLII board and was very supportive of the decision to seek leave to intervene,” said IP law professor Michael Geist on his influential blog.

“While the facts of the SOCAN case relate to online music previews and not legal research, the legal questions at issue include the meaning of ‘research’ as a head of fair dealing and how, in the internet age, courts should balance copyright holders’ interests with user rights,” CanLII said in a statement in its official blog.

The organization says its board of directors authorized this application in defence of the “large and liberal” interpretation given to the term “research” in CCH v. Law Society of Upper Canada and in several other cases that have applied this Supreme Court ruling.

CanLII is funded by the members of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, a group representing the law societies of Canada’s provinces and territories and the Chambre des notaires du Québec.

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