Staples Sued By Canadian Writers And Publishers For Photocopying Books

from the had-to-happen-at-some-point dept

Michael Geist points us to the news that Access Copyright, an organization representing approximately 9,000 Canadian publishers and writers has sued Staples/Business Depot for copyright infringement over photocopying done at the stores in Canada. They’re asking for $10 million, which Geist notes is “the largest lawsuit ever launched over copyright infringement of published works in Canada.” For photocopying books in stores? Are book publishers really worried about the photocopier menace? Hopefully there’s more to this claim than just the fact that people can photocopy passages from a book at Staples. It’s pretty difficult to believe that this practice is widespread enough to cause any serious harm to publishers or writers. If it’s just about people copying an occasional passage, as Geist notes, a previous lawsuit against libraries had found that the libraries weren’t responsible and that “fair dealing” (similar to fair use in the states) shouldn’t be constrained. Sure, if Staples were somehow copying books and selling the photocopies out the back you could make an argument that it’s an issue, but if people are just using the photocopier in the store to copy parts of a book for personal reasons, it’s hard to see the rationale here.

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Companies: access copyright, staples

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Comments on “Staples Sued By Canadian Writers And Publishers For Photocopying Books”

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Mike (profile) says:

Re: What is the point of your blog?

You always seem to leave out key facts like they have been investigating Staples since 1998.

You make it sound as if I left that out maliciously. I did not. I don’t see how the length of the investigation has any bearing on the issue at hand: which is whether or not Staples should be responsible for copyright infringement via their copying machines.

Also, we don’t we’re not “leaving out facts” for malicious purposes. It’s part of what you do when you summarize something. I write a summary with some analysis and there are links out for more details. In other words, there’s always going to be some stuff not covered, because we’re not rewriting the article, we’re summarizing it so you can click the link to read the whole story.

Search@ Engines Web (user link) says:

Copying Whole Books?

Copying pages or entire chapters or entire books.

It is possible that the plaintif sent undercover customers to make purchases over a period of time to several stores so as to have enough ammunition for a suit that would withstand a motion to dismiss.

This may eventually go to the Supreme Ct because of the far reaching impact.

Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) says:

AC #1

The point of the blog is why should Staples be responsible for what customers copy on their machines. Unless someone brings in a book, hands it to a Staples employee and tells them, “Could you copy this entire book written by a Canadian for me?” then there is nothing to go on. And it would still be questionable if Staples is liable because they may not be responsible for illegal activities by employees. The “investigation” is irrelevant to the purpose of the blog. You don’t mind leaving stuff out either. I do understand about that darn bad 8th research paper, though. Of all research papers, the 8th is always the worst. The 5th and 11th were not that great either but they don’t even touch the 8th.

SmellyG says:


First off, what are you all chatting about? The artical has enough ‘key facts’ to tell the story and has links if you wanna read further.

“Companies that photocopy illegally are effectively taking money directly out of the pockets of creators and publishers”

Ya what now? Cause if the pages couldnt be photocopied, everyone would obviously buy the book? Not likely. This would be a concern if the whole book was photocoped, but i doubt anyone would go through the bother.

Kev (user link) says:

What is the point of your blog?

First off – I think of Techdirt as much more than a blog. It’s a news source. Sure it’s not all fancy dancy and poured over by 18 different editors, but you know what? It works.

To the IDIOTIC first poster. Did you ever write a 9th research paper? I would assume you got an F for the 8th. Probably because you can’t really give someone a G.

The POINT of this article is that Staples are not responsible for what is copied on their machines. That is very, very obvious to anyone who doesn’t have a direct, vested interest in the allegedly infringed work. As someone else pointed out, the investigation has no bearing on this article. It was a dissertation of the whole Staples/Access Copyright history, but a comment on the current, specific action.

PS – this post is copyright to ME so don’t you go copying it at Staples, or I’ll sue whoever sold you your car for facilitating your heinous actions.

Anonymous Coward says:

Whats next

Okay, this whole thing is getting out of hand. The music and movie industry should drop suits against the torrent distributors and just sue the computer manufacturers and the telecoms. Sue the guns companie and not the people that use them.

The lawyers are making a mockery of the legal system. We the people are responsible for our actions, good or bad. The companies that develop, promote, make available and distribute the tools we use when we break laws are not responsible nor should they be required to monitor us as we use their tools.

DarkAngel says:

What is right vs What is law

“cutting the spines off of books, photocoping the pages and making multiple copies of the books”
If this is the case, let’s assume a 350 page college text book. At $.10 a page that is $35.00. Many of my college books were $100 – $150. I can believe people were copying the entire book.

I am all for fair use, and see no problem with copying a page or two out of a book, but when someone copies the entire book, that is wrong. With one exception, the book is no longer available anywhere for purchase, then I would say OK.

Now to Staples, if the people were leaving the book for Staples employees to do the copying, I would say Staples is responsible for the actions of their employees, if those employees were collecting charges that they turned over to Staples. If the employees were doing it and pocketing the money themselves, then Staples would not be responsible. This is assuming the issue is the copying of an entire book and not just selections.

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