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Michael Geist's Blog

Supreme Court of Canada Emphasizes Balance in Determining Copyright Scope of Protection

The Supreme Court of Canada issued another copyright decision this morning, ruling in favour of Claude Robinson in a longstanding copyright infringement battle over a children's television series. Robinson was vindicated in the decision with an award of millions of dollars. The case is an important one for determining whether a substantial part of a work has been copied and for how to assess copyright damages. The case also notably emphasizes the importance of copyright balance, this time within the context of the scope of protection afforded by the Copyright Act. In assessing the scope of the protection, the court states:

"The need to strike an appropriate balance between giving protection to the skill and judgment exercised by authors in the expression of their ideas, on the one hand, and leaving ideas and elements from the public domain free for all to draw upon, on the other, forms the background against which the arguments of the parties must be considered."

The Court's obvious awareness of how balance touches on all aspects of copyright analysis - whether user rights or scope of protection - continues to provide the foundation for copyright law in Canada.
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