Tiffany Wong is a JD Candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School
Previously on IPilogue, I discussed the U.S. Senate race between Harry Reid and Sharron Angle, who are both embroiled in copyright litigation. Hypothetically, these parties could succeed in raising different copyright defences in Canada.
Senate Majority Leader Reid is being sued by Angle for the republication of her former campaign website under a new URL, “http://www.therealsharronangle.com/,” which she originally removed and replaced with a reformulated, less inflammatory version of her platform. Reid has chosen the defences of fair use and freedom of speech, under political speech and parody.
Although our fair dealing defence is in some ways narrower than the American version of fair use, Reid’s case may have actually been stronger were his lawsuit tried in Canada. The reposted website could be deemed as a satirical reframing of Angle’s political platform. But Reid reposted the entire website in a parodic way that is not an enumerated defence in Canada. Cases have been made for both broad and narrow parodic exceptions, and interestingly, Bill C-32 includes an amendment of s.29 of the Copyright Act featuring expansive allowances for parody and satire.
Angle recently routed Reid’s campaign on the fundraising front, bringing in $14 million over the last three months, though her campaign is still troubled by a lawsuit instigated by a copyright enforcement company, Righthaven LLC. It seeks statutory damages and the forfeiture of her domain name due to Angle’s republication of entire articles from the Las Vegas Review Journal on her campaign website.
Were that case to have unfolded in Canada, Angle could have tried a fair dealing argument. However, like Reid, she too would have to show that she reposted the allegedly infringing article for the purpose of research, private study, criticism, review, or news reporting. The stakes are as high and likelihood of victory as uncertain in the players’ fair use gambits as in their neck-and-neck political race.