Meera Nair

Drawing a Line on Frivolous Lawsuits

In Posts on July 24, 2010 at 9:11 pm

Earlier this month, the Federal Court of Canada unveiled a decision that ought to bode well for keeping copyright suits in check. An action seeking $27 million in damages was met with an award of $500. It appears that the plaintiff was seeking to redress a past business relationship by filing suit against an intermediary party. His desired compensation of $27 million stemmed from a weak claim of copyright infringement and moral rights infringement.

By the end, the Honourable Mr. Justice Russell of the Federal Court of Canada determined that the defendants’ copyright misdemeanor was confined to posting the plaintiff’s work on their website, without his consent. With respect to the plaintiff’s claims, Justice Russell stated, “The evidence adduced concerning infringement of copyright suggests that the Plaintiff’s claims are disproportionate and opportunistic.”

It reads like a work of fiction right down to a proposed corrective that involved transacting funds in a Caribbean country of the plaintiff’s choice. The efforts to secure significant statutory damages earned some choice words from Justice Russell, “There is no evidence of any market for the Report and the conduct of the Defendants during the proceedings has been consistent with parties simply trying to resist the Plaintiff’s inflated demands for $27,000,000.00.”

The $500 awarded to the plaintiff is the minimum permitted for statutory damages by Canadian law. The claims for punitive and aggravated damages were unsuccessful.

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