$4 millions class action lawsuit against Université Laval for copyright infrigement
Montréal, November 10, 2014 - Copibec has filed a motion in Quebec Superior Court for authorization to launch a class action on behalf of thousands of authors and publishers from Quebec, the rest of Canada and other countries around the world because their copyright protected works have been copied without permission by Université Laval.
On an annual basis, the Quebec City-based university copies more than 11 million pages from 7,000 different works published in Quebec, the rest of Canada or abroad and includes them in coursepacks sold to students or distributes them online via its secure internal computer network.
Until May 2014, Université Laval, like all other Quebec universities, held a comprehensive licence issued by Copibec allowing it to make those copies legally. However, the university’s board of directors decided not to renew its licence and on May 21, 2014 put into effect a policy concerning the use of third-party works for teaching, learning, research and private study purposes (“Politique et directives relatives à l’utilisation de l’œuvre d’autrui aux fins des activités d’enseignement, d’apprentissage, de recherche et d’étude privée à l’Université Laval”). That policy now lets professors, lecturers, instructors and researchers make copies of copyright protected works and excerpts from those works without the university having to obtain permission from each author and publisher or pay the required royalties. Université Laval is the only educational institution in Quebec acting in that way.
Copibec, whose official name is the Société québécoise de gestion collective des droits de reproduction, is a not-for-profit created in 1998 by the Union des écrivaines et écrivains québécois (UNEQ) and the Association nationale des éditeurs de livres (ANEL) to manage the reproduction rights for copyright protected works in print and digital formats. It has the authority to manage the reproduction rights of 2,330 publishers and 24,295 authors from Quebec as well as the authors and publishers represented by reproduction rights organizations in 32 countries, including France, Belgium and the United States.
On behalf of the authors and publishers whose works were copied without permission by Université Laval, Copibec intends to ask the Superior Court to issue orders so that the illegal copying can be stopped and the illegally copied material can be seized. It also intends to ask the Court to sentence Université Laval to pay those authors and publishers approximately $2 million in unpaid royalties, $1 million in moral damages and $1 million in punitive damages in addition to the profits earned on the sale of coursepacks to students.
Since the case is before the courts, Copibec’s representatives will not be giving interviews about the class action. For more information, please write to [email protected].