Copyright Infringement: On the Negative Side of “Outrageous”

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Copying and selling counterfeit software can be a risky proposition if Microsoft, Adobe and Rosetta Stone team up against you.

A Toronto man sold pirated software on Kijiji and Craigslist and three software vendors combined forces to sue him for copyright infringement by way of summary judgment, a truncated procedure that avoids the need for a full trial. Last month, the Canadian Federal Court found that the man’s conduct was “on the negative side” of “outrageous” and “highly unreasonable”. This conduct added $105,000 to the overall damage award of $445,000 for copyright infringement, made up of statutory damages, punitive damages, costs, plus pre- and post-judgment interest. A few interesting points about this decision:

  1. Statutory damages under the Copyright Act range from $500 to $20,000. Here, the judge awarded maximum statutory damages of $20,000 per infringed work.
  2. The court reviewed when punitive damages are appropriate: “when a party’s conduct has been malicious, oppressive and high-handed, offends the court’s sense of decency, and represents a marked departure from ordinary standards of decent behaviour”. In this case, the court was convinced that a significant punitive damage award was warranted.

The case is: Adobe Systems Inc. et al v. Dale Thompson dba Appletree Solutions 2012 FC 1219.