Supreme Court hears oral argument in Cinar/Robinson copyright cases (Updated)

Earlier today, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in four copyright cases arising from the decision of 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. The webcast from the argument is being archived and will be available here.

The case canvasses many copyright issues including the application of the standard of originality to partially completed works, the test for infringement when there has been substantial alterations and improvements to the original work, the relevance of expert evidence in copyright cases in light of the Supreme Court of Canada decision in the Masterpiece Inc. v. Alavida Lifestyles Inc. case, the scope of the terms “cinematographic work” and “maker” within meaning of s. 2 of Copyright Act, and the application of the patent standard for calculating profits in a copyright case under the Supreme Court’s Monsanto Canada inc. v. Schmeiser decision. There is also a very interesting discussion of the basis for awarding punitive damages for copyright infringement under Quebec law.

According to the summaries of the cases prepared by the Court, the following issues are the subject of the appeals:

  • Steps and tests for determining whether substantial part of work reproduced within meaning of ss. 2 and 3 of Copyright Act
  • Scope of existence of reasonable and valid defence in case of liability for infringement of Copyright Act
  • Admissibility of expert’s testimony concerning reproduction of substantial part of work within meaning of ss. 2 and 3 of Copyright Act
  • Scope of terms “cinematographic work” and “maker” within meaning of s. 2 of Copyright Act
  • Tests for compensation for copyright infringement within meaning of s. 35 of Copyright Act
  • Tests for damages for moral, psychological or physical injury
  • Tests for punitive damages
  • Standard of judicial review applicable on appeal as regards assessment of facts, presumptions based on facts and determination of quantum
  • Tests for assignment of copyright within meaning of s. 13(4) of Copyright Act
  • Civil liability in context of Copyright Act
  • Solicitor client costs

The complete cases summaries can be found at the Supreme Court’s site. See, An English translation of the Robinson case created using Google Translate can be found here.

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