On May 26, 2023, the Federal Court of Canada (the Court) issued its decision in Vidéotron Ltée v Konek Technologies Inc., 2023 FC 741, in which the Court issued an injunction prohibiting the Defendants from retransmitting TVA Sports channels, and awarded statutory damages of $553,000.
The Plaintiffs included various telecommunication providers and TVA Group Inc, a television broadcaster. The Defendants comprised of Konek Technologies Inc (Konek), Coopérative de câblodistribution Hill Valley (Hill Valley), Libéo Inc, a networking and information technology company, Louis Michaud, Joé Bussière and Jean-François Rousseau. The latter three individuals collaborated to develop a technology for hotels that involved retransmitting the TVA and TVA Sports television channels without obtaining authorization from TVA Group Inc. The Plaintiffs brought an action seeking damages and an injunction to stop the retransmission.
Last year, the Plaintiffs were successful in a motion for summary trial, where the Court found that an exception set out in section 31 of the Copyright Act did not apply to the Defendants, and therefore the Defendants required permission to retransmit the TVA Sports channels (2022 FC 256). The Court also found that Konek and Hill Valley were solidarily liable for any copyright infringement arising from the retransmission of the TVA and TVA Sports channels, but Libéo Inc was not liable for infringement because it benefitted from exemptions under the Copyright Act for Internet service providers.
At trial, the Court dealt with the remaining issues. The Court rejected each of the Defendants’ arguments in turn, finding that: (i) the Plaintiffs had proven that they owned the copyright in the works at issue; (ii) the Defendants failed to demonstrate that the Broadcasting Act or its regulations excused the unauthorized retransmission of the TVA Sports channels; and (iii) there was no basis to conclude that the Plaintiffs had waived their rights.
The Court also dismissed claims that the parties filed against each other under section 7 of the Trademarks Act, which prohibits discrediting a competitor or making false or misleading statements. The Court held that both parties failed to establish causation between the opposing party’s alleged conduct and their alleged damage.
The Court ultimately granted an injunction prohibiting the retransmission of the TVA Sports channels and awarded $553,000 in statutory damages. The Court noted that this sum was sufficient to compensate for the infringement, to denounce the Defendants’ stubbornness in asserting a right to retransmit the TVA Sports channels, and to deter others from engaging in similar conduct.
Summary By: Sharan Johal
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