Copyright in the Public Interest: Canada’s Perceptual Disability Framework

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Copyright, Perceptual Disability, Exceptions, Fair Dealing, Canada, Marrakesh Treaty, 3D Printing


This chapter explores the lawfulness, under the current Canadian copyright regime, of making and displaying of 3D reproductions of works of visual art for the benefit of persons with disabilities. For the purposes of this chapter, the authors posit that such reproductions would typically be performed either by a person with a disability or, more likely, by a museum, art gallery or other third party on behalf of such persons. Since this issue has yet to be examined by the courts, any assessment remains speculative. The creation and public exhibition of a three-dimensional reproduction of visual art would undoubtedly impact the rights granted under the Copyright Act. Nevertheless, the authors believe that non-profit organisations such as a museum would probably be able to invoke two mechanisms: the defense of fair dealing for the purpose of research and private study; or the application of the statutory exception for the benefit of persons with perceptual disabilities. The authors propose that this interpretation of Canada’s Copyright Act gives the greatest meaning to the country’s ambition to create an inclusive society for persons with disabilities, which includes their participation in cultural and artistic life.