Today, on March 29, 2019, the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) intervened before the Supreme Court of Canada in Keatley Surveying Ltd. v. Teranet Inc. The outcome of this case, which addresses “Crown copyright”, will impact many mass digitization projects and open government initiatives.
Hosted at the Centre for Law, Technology and Society (CLTS), CIPPIC advocates in the public interest on issues involving the intersection of law and technology. CIPPIC was represented by Jeremy de Beer, a Full Professor at the Common Law Section and a CLTS Faculty member, and CIPPIC Director David Fewer.
Keatley Surveying Ltd. v. Teranet Inc involves the management of the Province of Ontario’s electronic land registry system. The public is currently able to obtain copies of land surveys and other documents through this system for a fee, but no money is distributed to the surveyors who prepared the documents in the first place. The case is being brought forward by Keatley Surveying Ltd. on behalf of approximately 350 land surveyors whose plans were scanned and made available online.
Professors de Beer and Fewer, for CIPPIC, argued that the government cannot take away authors’ rights by republishing other peoples’ work. CIPPIC says that Crown copyright “is not a way for the government to expropriate, in a formal or colloquial sense, other people’s copyrights,” and “invites a more common-sense approach”.