On November 15, 2018, the Federal Court of Canada (Court) issued its decision in Dean Joseph Evans v Discovery Communications LLC (2018 FC 1153) summarily dismissing the action for copyright infringement.

Dean Joseph Evans (Evans) is the author of a science fiction novel for which he holds copyright. Evans alleged that Discovery Communications LLC (Discovery) infringed his copyright by creating and broadcasting a television series which examined the scientific underpinnings of various futuristic concepts. Evans further alleged that the basis of the infringement claim between the two works was one of “non-literal infringement”, and related to the scientific content of the works only. In support of the allegations, evidence of similarity between the topics and themes was put before the Court.  However, no evidence was presented to suggest Discovery had accessed, copied or even knew of the novel prior to the litigation.

The Court decided that the allegation could not possibly found a successful action for copyright infringement because: first, copyright does not protect ideas; only the expression of those ideas; second, there was no substantial similarity between the expression of the ideas expressed by the novel and the television series; third, even if the expression of the ideas presented by the works were similar, there was no evidence that Discovery had accessed the novel and copied it; and finally, any incidental similarity between the two works could be explained by the fact that the themes and topics explored in both works are common to science fiction.  Accordingly, the Court found that there was no genuine issue for trial and summarily dismissed the action.

Summary By: Jae Morris

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