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Friday, 13 October 2006


The Globe and Mail reports that the Canadian Supreme Court has ruled against it in a case involving copyright in articles by freelance journalists. Freelance journalist Heather Robertson argued that a licence she gave to the newspaper in 1995 to reproduce her article did not give the paper the right to reproduce it in a database of past articles. According to the article:

"The right to reproduce a collective work under the Copyright Act does not carry with it the right to republish freelance articles as part of an entirely different collective work," the majority said.

They added that to do otherwise would de-contextualize articles "to the point that they are no longer presented in a manner that maintains their intimate connection with the rest of that newspaper."
However, reproducing the article as part of a CD Rom which would contained electronic copies of the newspaper pages would not infringe.

The case will now proceed to trial.

The IPKat doesn’t see how this decision serves the public interest. It would appear to block off the production of a socially valuable new database, since it would be administratively impossible for a newspaper to go back through its archives in order to gain licences from all of the freelance journalists from whom it has ever purchased work.

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