On January 19, 2018, IP Osgoode and the Windsor Law’s LTec LAB co-hosted a book launch for Prof. Pascale Chapdelaine’s new book, Copyright User Rights, Contracts, and the Erosion of Property. The event featured a talk by the author on her influences and the book’s key themes and takeaways, as well an introduction by Bob Tarantino, which highlighted the significance of Prof. Chapdelaine’s contribution to the copyright user rights discourse.
The mood of the event was decidedly celebratory, with friends, family, students, and colleagues alike partaking in food, beverages, and conversation in honour of Prof. Chapdelaine’s accomplishment. Bob Tarantino kicked the event off by contextualizing Prof. Chapdelaine’s work within the copyright user rights discussion, which has been of growing importance in the IP community since the Supreme Court of Canada’s pronouncement in CCH – adopting the language of Prof. David Vaver – that exceptions to copyright infringement are best understood as users’ rights. Mr. Tarantino noted that Prof. Chapdelaine’s book provides an answer to the question, what are user rights with respect to copyright, and thus Prof. Chapdelaine’s new book is a valuable resource for user rights critics, advocates, and fence-sitters alike.
Prof. Chapdelaine commenced her talk by thanking her friends, family, and colleagues for their support throughout her career. Prof. Chapdelaine also noted the influence her diverse background has had on her work; she having spent years in private practice in Montreal as well as in-house counsel for Bell Media and BCE Inc, and holding an LLB and BCL from McGill Universty, an LLM from KU Leuven Faculty of Law in Belgium, and a PhD from Osgoode Hall Law School.
In her book, Prof. Chapdelaine sets out to define what copyright user rights actually entail – particularly in a society where the modes of cultural consumption are increasingly dematerialized and digitized. In other words, Prof. Chapdelaine’s work examines how Western legal traditions can (and should) conceptualize and uphold copyright user rights as society’s modes of consumption move away from ownership of tangibles (e.g. books, CDs, etc.) and towards access to intangibles (e.g. streaming, e-books, etc.)?
In the Canadian legal context, the logical extension of the preceding question is: how can and should the legislature and judiciary give effect to the Supreme Court of Canada’s pronouncement in CCH, whilst still upholding the balance between the public interest and the rights of authors expounded by the Supreme Court in Théberge? Prof. Chapdelaine also sets out to answer the corollary question: if exceptions to copyright infringement are user rights, what obligations are imposed on copyright owners by the existence of such rights?
In answering all of the above questions, Prof. Chapdelaine adopts a theoretical framework grounded in copyright law but informed by property, contract, and consumer law, and applies it to practical situations, resulting in a comprehensive perspective on copyright user rights. In so doing, Prof. Chapdelaine problematizes the dichotomies of tangible/intangible works, and copyright owner/user in attempts to show how misunderstandings of such dichotomies influence the various arguments for and against copyright user rights.
If you find the above questions and conceptions intriguing than I suggest you get yourself a copy of Prof. Chapdelaine’s new book – I know I sure will!
Stephen Cooley is an IPilogue Editor and a JD Candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School.