Copyright Case Brief – CCH Canadian Limited v. Law Society of Upper Canada

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Citation – [2004] 1 S.C.R. 339, 2004 SCC 13
Facts:
The Law Society of Upper Canada (Respondent) has a library offering both custom and self serve photocopy service. CCH Canadian Limited (Appellant) sues for infringement of copyright in 11 specific works and asks for a permanent injunction preventing further copying. Law Society denies the infringement and files a counterclaim to declare that its activities did not infringe the publishers copyrights, by either providing single copy for research purpose or by allowing patrons to avail themselves of the self-service photocopiers.

Procedural History:
The Federal Court trial division and Federal Court of Appeal allowed the publishers claim in part and then the Law society appealed in Supreme Court of Canada.

Issues:
1) Are the publishers’ materials “original works” protected by copyright?
2) Did the Great Library authorize copyright infringement by maintaining self-service photocopiers and copies of the publishers’ works for its patrons’ use?

Judgment:
1) Are the publishers’ materials “original works” protected by copyright? Court held as following.
a) Headnotes – Yes, it is an original work.
Court said that although headnotes are inspired largely by the judgment they are not an identical copy of the reasons. Part of the judgement can be selected and can be arranged according to one’s choice. Making these decisions require the exercise of skill and judgment and the authors need to have knowledge of the subject for the same.

b) Case Summary- Yes, for the same reasons as mentioned above case summary is also an original work therefore covered by copyright.
c) Topical Index- Yes.
It provides a listing of cases with short headings to indicate the main topics covered by the decision and very brief summaries of the decisions. The author has to decide which headings and cases to include and which cases should fall under which headings. These decisions would require the exercise of skill and judgment.

d) Reported Judicial Decisions –  they have copyright over the compilation but not on judicial decisions themselves. The authors have arranged the case summary, case title, case information (the headnotes) and the judicial reasons in a specific manner. The arrangement of these different components requires the exercise of skill and judgment. The judicial reasons in and of themselves, without the headnotes, are not original works in which the publishers could claim copyright.

2) Did the Great Library authorize copyright infringement by maintaining self-service photocopiers and copies of the publishers’ works for its patrons’ use?
No, library did not authorize copyright infringement. For self service photocopiers court said that there was no evidence that the photocopiers had been used in a manner that was not consistent with copyright law. Court noted that a person does not authorize copyright infringement by authorizing the mere use of equipment (such as photocopiers) that could be used to infringe copyright. For copies for patrons court held that not all request were honoured. Secondly, they granted copies to patrons for research work, which was exemption of copyright infringement.

Rationale:For a work to be “original” within, it must be more than a mere copy of another work. At the same time, it need not be creative, in the sense of being novel or unique. What is required to attract copyright protection in the expression of an idea is an exercise of skill and judgment. The exercise of skill and judgment required to produce the work must not be so trivial that it could be characterized as a purely mechanical process, it should include intellectual effort of the author.

Rule: Standard of Review laid in this case – exercise of skill and judgement in the work.

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