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Newsletter - January 17, 2019
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2019 will be an important year for creators

With lump-sum payments coming up and the Copyright Act review underway, there will be a lot going on in 2019 for the thousands of Copibec rightsholders

 Our most recent news

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Executive Director’s update

Happy New Year everyone! We hope you enjoyed the Holidays and had an opportunity for a change of scene and some rest and relaxation. At Copibec, 2019 is already off to a fast-paced start.

Creators always look forward to odd-numbered years because that’s when Copibec distributes many lump-sum (repertoire) payments. Millions of dollars in royalties will be paid out this year to visual artists, freelancers, newspaper and magazine publishers as well as book authors, illustrators, translators and publishers.

In the months ahead, we’ll be busy getting those payments ready. Our Finance team will prepare the distributions and the Communications and Rightsholder Services team will do everything they can to get in touch with creators and encourage them to register online or update their accounts.

The other Copibec teams will also be working hard. Throughout the year, we’ll have news to announce to our thousands of users in every sector of activity. Plus, the Copyright Act review is still going ahead during this federal election year!

Copyright is sure to be a hot topic in 2019. Don’t miss anything: check out our latest news and follow our Facebook page and Twitter account!

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Some people think copyright is a complex, abstract and obscure topic. Let’s change that perception! Our Legal Explainer provides a simple, dynamic explanation of the situations experienced by copyright owners and content users. Issued every once in a while, Legal Explainer looks at concrete issues and gives you an easy-to-understand but reliable answer supported by the Copyright Act and case law.

We hope you’ll find it helpful!

Does copyright apply to restaurant menus?

Marie is the well-known chef of a five-star restaurant in Quebec City. On her last visit to Montreal, she was looking forward to enjoying a meal at a new bistro in the Plateau Mont-Royal neighbourhood. But when she started reading the menu, she almost fell off her chair! The names and descriptions of the dishes were clear imitations of the menu she had personally designed for her own restaurant the previous summer. For example, the bistro offered a dish called Toile beige de la dame (The lady’s beige cloak) while she had given the name Voile blanc de la demoiselle (The damsel’s white veil) to hers. All the ingredients were the same as the ones she had selected for her dish, except they had replaced her chanterelle mushrooms with oyster mushrooms. She continued reading the menu and was outraged to realize that everything had been copied from hers. “They stole my copyright!” she exclaimed. Is Marie right?

According to the Federal Court in its 1429539 Ontario Limited ruling, to determine whether a restaurant menu is a copyright-protected work under the Copyright Act, it’s necessary to look at whether the work is “original” or, as explained by the Supreme Court in the CCH Canadian Ltd. v. Law Society of Upper Canada decision, whether it is “the product of an author’s exercise of skill and judgment.” In this case, the Federal Court ruled that, under the circumstances, “[a]n author’s demonstrated ability to select the food items to be included in the menu, to generate descriptions of those items and to arrange the layout and overall design of the menu are examples of the skill and judgment required to support a finding that a restaurant menu is an original work deserving copyright protection” (par. 112). The Court added that “[…]where an author demonstrates a de minimis level of intellectual effort suggesting more than a purely mechanical exercise of skill and judgment, the resulting menu would be an “original” work and protected under the Copyright Act” (par.113).

The basic principle of the Copyright Act is that a work is presumed to be original unless the contrary is proved. Restaurant menus can therefore be protected by copyright under the Act. In those situations, permission to reproduce the menu must be obtained from the copyright owner.

Does copyright apply to recipes? We’ll answer that in a future LEGAL EXPLAINER.

*This text does not constitute a legal opinion. The explanations apply only to the facts described in this scenario.

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Copyright Act review: Getting it right this time

Every year, thousands of Quebec writers, visual artists, magazine and newspaper contributors and publishers are paid royalties when their content is reproduced. The collective licensing model makes (...)

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