In the last decade, the Supreme Court of Canada has canvassed many important issues in copyright law including the scope of the rights of reproduction and authorization, what makes a work original, and how to apply the fair dealing defense. In its decision released yesterday in Cinar Corporation v. Robinson, 2013 SCC 73, a unanimous Supreme Court released an important precedent dealing with many other core areas of copyright including the framework for how to assess if a “substantial part” of a work has been reproduced, the assessment of damages for infringement including accounting of profits, non-pecuniary damages and punitive damages, the use of experts in a copyright case, the vicarious liability of directors for infringement, and whether copyright is protected by the Quebec Charter of human rights and freedoms. For copyright lawyers, this case is a goldmine – a treasure trove -of important copyright holdings by the Supreme Court.
Archive for the ‘idea expression dichotomy’ category
I just finished reading the fascinating reasons delivered by the Quebec Court of Appeal in the France Animation v Robinson, 2011 QCCA 1361 case. The main issue in the appeal was whether sketches and characters of the proposed TV series Robinson curiosity were infringed by the series Robinson sucro. The trial judge found infringement and the Court of Appeal upheld the judgment, in part.
It is often argued by anti-copyright advocates that copyright is a monopoly that operates so stringently that it stifles creativity and leaves no room for others to create similar or competing works. This argument often overlooks the idea expression dichotomy principle in copyright law. This principle is applied, albeit with variations, throughout the world to regulate the balance between legitimate expression that cannot be copied without consent, unless an explicit exception applies, and ideas and concepts that can be freely re-used by anyone without consent, payment, or restrictions.