Author: Stacey Smydo

Stacey Smydo

About Stacey Smydo

Stacey practices copyright litigation and has acted in matters before the Federal Court, Federal Court of Appeal, and the Copyright Board. She also works in government relations on copyright law reform and drafts copyright and entertainment law agreements.

The Ins and Outs of Canadian Copyright: Movies and the real and substantial connection test

A recent decision of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice sheds some light on the application of the “real and substantial connection test” under Canadian copyright law where alleged infringement takes place across geographic borders. In Pourshian v. Walt Disney Company, an Ontario court allowed an action for copyright infringement to proceed against three Walt Disney Company related entities based on a movie distributed through Canadian movie theaters.

The plaintiff, Damon Pourshian, filed a Statement of Claim against a group of companies related to the Walt Disney Company. He alleged that Pixar’s award-winning animated film, “Inside Out”, released in 2015, infringed his copyright in a short film that he created in 1998 also entitled “Inside Out”. In Pourshian’s film, five organs—Heart, Stomach, Colon, Bladder, and Brain—guide the protagonist’s behaviour while in Pixar’s film, five emotions—Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust—influence the protagonist’s behaviour.

In response, the defendants filed a motion to set aside service of the Statement of Claim and to stay the action on the grounds that the defendants are incorporated and have their principal places of business in the United States, that Pixar’s “Inside Out” was made in California, and as a result Canada’s Copyright Act does not have extraterritorial application. The main issue on the motion. therefore, was whether the Ontario court should assume jurisdiction over Pourshian’s action.

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