Copyright

Litigation

Law Reform

The appeal of Cooperstock v United Airlines, Inc., scheduled to be heard Tuesday, December 10, has been discontinued as the parties have reached a settlement.

While undoubtedly a positive development for the parties - who bear the cost and stress of the litigation - the development leaves intact the troubling lower court decision in United Airlines, Inc. v. Cooperstock, 2017 FC 616 (CanLII).  Mr. Cooperstock operated Untied.com, a consumer criticism site targeting the plaintiff, United Airlines.  United, after years of tolerating Mr. Cooperstock's stings, in 2012 concluded that it could take no more and filed a statement of claim alleging copyright infringement and a number of violations of its rights under the Trademarks Act.  The lower court agreed sided with United in a controversial opinion. Mr. Cooperstock appealed.

Justice Boswell of the Federal Court of Canada has denied Voltage’s motion to certify a “reverse” class proceeding for copyright infringement against a class of unidentified internet subscribers and alleged BitTorrent users.

CIPPIC intervened in the motion, arguing among other things that Voltage’s pleadings did not disclose a reasonable cause of action and that a class proceeding was not preferable given that it would amount to individual factual inquiries specific to each class member.  The Court agreed on both counts.  In rejecting the motion, Justice Boswell concluded:

[77]  I agree with CIPPIC’s submissions that Voltage’s pleadings do not disclose a reasonable cause of action with respect to primary infringement.  While Voltage alleges that its forensic software identified a direct infringement in [sic] Voltage’s films, Voltage has failed to identify a Direct Infringer in its amended notice of application. ... 

[...]

[160]  A class proceeding is not a preferable procedure for the just and efficient resolution of any common issues which may exist.  The proposed proceeding would require multiple individual fact-findings for each class member on almost every issue. ...

The Federal Court of Canada has set Rogers' "reasonable costs" of compliance with a Norwich Order in Voltage's reverse class proceeding.  The decision caps a long-running dispute over the proportion of ISP costs copyright claimants must pay ISPs to comply with Norwich orders obliging ISPs to hand over subscriber information to copyright claimants alleging infringement.  Following a 2018 Supreme Court of Canada decision clarifying the range of costs ISPs may ask claimants to pay for subscriber data, Rogers had asked for costs of $100 per subscriber.  Voltage had asked for costs to be set at close to a third of that figure.  The Court split the difference, undertaking a detailed calculation based upon the time and employee costs involved to arrive at the figure of $67.23, plus HST, for the IP address lookup of the single subscriber involved.

On Friday, March 29, CIPPIC will appear as an intervener before the Supreme Court of Canada in the hearing of Keatley Surveying Ltd. v. Teranet Inc., SCC Case No. 37863.  The case addresses the scope and reach of “Crown copyright” and will impact many mass digitization projects and open government initiatives.

This case stems from a class action involving 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.

CIPPIC's intervention argues 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” to interpreting Crown copyright.

Professor Jeremy de Beer and CIPPIC Director David Fewer are acting for CIPPIC.

CIPPIC's Submissions on Industry Canada's statutory review of the Copyright Act focus on the need to restore balance to the legislation in light of the expansion of owner rights and remedies in CUSMA, the Canada-United States-Mexico trade agreement signed in the summer of 2018.

The 2018 review of the Copyright Act is an opportunity to address the needs of Canadian creators and Canadian content users, while strengthening the public domain. In light of the recent CUSMA treaty and its benefits for copyright holders and intermediaries, we ask the Committee to engage in this review with a view to restoring the essential balance at the heart of copyright policy.

Read CIPPIC's submission:

The Supreme Court of Canada issued its ruling in Rogers Communications Inc v Voltage Pictures LLC, 2018 SCC 38, today, the latest installment in a long series of ongoing efforts by Voltage to establish a controversial mass copyright litigation model in Canada and the first decision to meaningfully interpret Canada's notice-and-notice regime. As CIPPIC argued in its intervention, which was ably prepared by our external counsel, Jeremy de Beer and Bram Abramson, the decision under appeal discouraged ISPs from conducting rigorous quality assurance checks necessary to reduce mis-identification of customers accused of copyright infringement. It also placed the cost burden of increasingly expansive copyright litigation models on customers of ISPs. All this, in turn, jeopardizes privacy rights of mis-identified customers; exposes innocent individuals to legal threats and costly lawsuits; raises Canada's Internet access fees (already amongst the highest in the world) even higher; and undermines competition by disproportionately impacting smaller ISPs who are less able to diffuse the costs of robust quality assurance.

The ruling narrowed a prohibition, imposed by the Federal Court of Appeal, on any cost recovery for quality assurance protocols employed by ISPs when compelled to identify customers in the context of a copyright lawsuit. The court held that ISPs will be permitted to recover some (but not all) of these costs, sending the matter back to the Federal Court for determination of what specific quality assurance protocols are reasonable and non-duplicative. This, in turn, removes cost-based disincentives to adopt robust quality assurance protocols by ISPs.

Image credit: smileycreek, "Don't Feed The Trolls", October 4, 2014, Flickr, CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0.

FAQ: Copyright Trolls

FAQ on privacy and copyright issues raised by photography-related activities.

CETA


Introduction

In 2002, the European Commission and the Government of Canada agreed to “design a new type of forward-looking, wide-ranging bilateral trade agreement covering…new generation issues and outstanding trade barriers.”

On May 6, 2009, Canada and the European Union (EU) announced the launch of formal negotiations towards the new trade and investment agreement, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

CETA is intended to build upon previous economic cooperation agreements between Canada and the EU, starting with the 1976 Framework Agreement for Commercial and Economic Co-operation, as well as the 1998 EU-Canada Trade Initiative.

While the scope of CETA is broad, this F.A.Q. will focus on intellectual property issues.

This F.A.Q. was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, or "ACTA", is a controversial trade agreement negotiated by a number of nations, including Canada. ACTA addresses standards of enforcement of intellectual property rights. ACTA's content has the potential to impact civil liberties and divert public resources towards the enforcement of private rights.

Bill C-61 was a bill to amend Canada's Copyright Act. The bill died on the order paper with the election of 2008. However, the present government has indicated in its Throne Speech that it intends again to introduce legislation to amend the Copyright Act. Accordingly, we keep this FAQ available to the public.

Over the past few years, file-sharing - i.e., the sharing of files over peer-to-peer (P2P) networks - has become a popular way for music lovers to sample and gather music from a wide range of performers. However, most of the music downloaded and shared by consumers is copyrighted and hence, subject to laws limiting the rights of consumers to reproduce and distribute it.

Digital Rights Management (DRM), also sometimes called ECMS, or electronic copyright management systems, are technologies designed to automatically manage rights in relation to information. This can include preventing copyright works and other information from being accessed or copied without authorization and establishing and enforcing license terms with individuals.

Copyright is a system of laws for promoting both the creation of and access to artistic, literary, musical, dramatic and other creative works. It is usually presented as a balance between promoting the public interest in the encouragement of the creation and dissemination of works of the arts and intellect, and obtaining a just reward for the copyright holder

The broadcast flag is a Digital Rights Management (DRM) system for controlling consumer treatment of high-definition television (HDTV) broadcast content.

Bill C-60 was a proposal to amend Canada's Copyright Act. The Bill died on the order paper with the fall of the Martin government in 2005. However, the issues that motivated the government to table this Bill remain with us.

Blacklock’s Reporter v AG Canada Case opens in Federal Court

On March 4, 2004 the Supreme Court of Canada released its decision in the case of Law Society of Upper Canada v. CCH Limited [2004] S.C.J. No. 12, (2004) 236 D.L.R. (4th) 395 holding (i) that the Copyright Act's fair dealing exception should be liberally interpreted to prevent undue restraint of users' rights and (ii) that the provision of self-service photocopiers does not equal an infringement of copyright.

The Supreme Court of Canada heard arguments on Dec.3, 2003 from Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and music industry representatives in an important case that will decide, among other things, the extent to which Canadian ISPs are liable for content flowing through their networks, and the extent to which foreign actors who target communications to Canadians may be liable under the Canadian Copyright Act.

Edit:   Decision released! (November 26)
 
In a 7-2 decision, the Court upheld the Copyright Board's decision to characterize broadcast-incidental copies as "reproductions" for the purposes of the Copyright Act, but overturned the Board's method of calculating fees payable for such activities.  The majority found no reason to depart from long-standing caselaw on the character of ephemeral copies as reproductions for the purposes of the Act, and concluded that the separation of synchronization and broadcast‑incidental licences does not offend technological neutrality or impose new layers of protection or fees based solely on technological change.  However, the majority concluded that the Board failed to consider the principles of technological neutrality and balance in valuing the ephemeral licence.  The Court concluded that balance between user and right‑holder interests requires that the Board assess the respective contributions of the user and the copyright‑protected works to the value enjoyed by the user. Factors relevant to this balance include:
  • the risks taken by the user,
  • the extent of the investment made by the user in the new technology, and
  • the nature of the copyright protected work’s use in the new technology.

National Post/Warman v. Fournier, Federal Court of Appeal, File Nos. A-394-12 & A-395-12

Voltage v. Doe, Federal Court, 2013

CIPPIC has filed a Statement of Defense on behalf of its client, Geolytica, in response to a lawsuit filed by the Canada Post Corporation in the Federal Court of Canada (File No. T-519-12) claiming that it owns copyright in its database of postal codes and that Geolytica has infringed that copyright by "crowd-sourcing" data for its own database of postal codes mapped to street addresses.

The case raises fundamental copyright issues, including the scope of protection afforded compilations of data, the subsistence of copyright in factual address identifiers such as postal codes, and the availability of defenses such as fair dealing to developers of research tools such as Geolytica's Canadian Postal Code Geocoded Dataset.  The case will have significant implications for downstream innovators and analysts looking at using datasets for research and to facilitate the research of others.

 

Copyright Pentalogy (SCC, 2012)

Following through on its threat, the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) launched a lawsuit in the Federal Court (Trial Division), in Toronto Ontario, on February 10, 2004 against 29 unnamed alleged music file-sharers.

Canada's 2010 Digital Economy Consultation

To better understand the basics of copyright law, Prof. Samuel E. Trosow (Western Ontario University)
presents to us his master class: Introduction to Copyright Law and prospects for new legislation.

In 2005, parliament considered revisions to the Copyright Act in order to ensure that Canada's copyright framework remained relevant in the rapidly changing digital environment. The Canadian government introduced a long-awaited bill to amend the Copyright Act on June 20, 2005.
On November 3, 2004, CIPPIC Associate Alex Cameron presented a brief to the Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology on Bill S-9, proposed amendments to the Copyright Act that would give photographers first ownership of copyright in the photographs they take.

As Parliament considers legislated protection of Digital Rights Management (DRM) technologies (designed to detect and stop copying of digital works), the Privacy Commissioner of Canada has indicated her intent to "initiate a dialogue" with the departments of Heritage Canada and Industry Canada "to ensure that privacy risks" associated with any copyright legislation "are addressed." Some of the Commissioner's provincial counterparts have signaled their support of her initiative.

On May 12, 2004 the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, chaired by Sarmite D. Bulte, M.P. released an interim report listing a number of recommended reforms to Canadian copyright law. The first round of hearings for the report were launched in October 2003 where the Committee heard from a panel of invited witnesses including representatives from Canadian Heritage, Industry Canada, the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, the Canadian Association of Internet Providers and the Canadian Motion Picture Distributors Association among others. As a result of these consultations, the Committee came up with a number of recommendations.

The Canadian government is considering amending Canada's copyright law. CIPPIC is greatly concerned with the proposals and recommendations contained in the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage's Report on Copyright Reform.

In September 2003, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage ("Heritage Committee") began its review of the Section 92 report published by Industry Canadain October 2002.