Legal Overview of Film Piracy and the Copyright Act in Canada.

Copyright in Canada means the right to reproduce.  Only the creator has the right to reproduce.  The creator is the author of the work.  For the purposes of this article, I will be discussing the copyright laws in relation to motion pictures.    Copyright laws in Canada  apply to dramatic work.   Dramatic work includes  films that are referred to as “cinematograph work” under the Copyright Act in Canada.  

Motion pictures are automatically protected as dramatic works providing certain conditions are met.  These conditions are outlined in section 5(1) of the Copyright Act.  For example, if the creator is an ordinarily resident of Canada, he/she is automatically granted copyright protection rights under the Act.   In addition, if the creator belongs to a treaty country, they are automatically granted copyright protection under the Copyright Act even if the work was not created in Canada.  For example,  if the film was created in the United States, the copyright of the cinematograph work is automatically protected under Canadian copyright laws because the United States is treaty country.   A treaty country can be a member of the Berne Convention, Universal Copyright Convention and the World Trade Organization.  These member countries have international copyright agreements.

Although copyright subsists automatically when the work is created, copyright can be registered voluntarily under section 53(2) of the Copyright Act.   Certificates of Copyright Registration are proof that a copyright subsists which is useful for court purposes.   Certificates of Registration are filed online at the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.  The duration of the terms of copyright is the life of the creator plus 50 years.

In order to prove copyright infringement, the crown will have to prove the copyright subsists in the original work, the evidence relying on are infringing copies, that the accused had knowledge that what he/she was doing was unlawful and that  the accused committed one of the following offenses under Section 42(1) of the Copyright Act:

a).  making for sale or rental;

b).  selling or renting out, or by way of trade exposing or offering for sale or rental;

c).  distributing;

d).  by way of trade exhibiting in public; and

e).  importing into Canada for sale or hire.

Section 42(2)(a) of the Copyright Act states that it is an offense for anyone who knowingly makes or possesses a plate for the purposes of infringing copies for which copyright subsists.    A plate is defined in section 2(a) of the Copyright Act as “any stereotype or other plate, stone mould matrix, transfer or negative used or intended to be used for printing or reproducing copies of any work”.   Anything used as a means to reproduce the illegal and unauthorized DVDs from motion pictures would be considered a plate.  Also, if a copyright infringer is camcording movies in a movie theatre, the camcorder would be considered a plate.   However, in order to prove  offense, the crown will have to establish that the accused had a plate in its possession which was used for copyright infringement in which copyright subsists and that the accused had knowledge  that these activities were illegal.

As part of our investigation in Canada, we attempt to prove the copyright infringer or an organization is engaging in illegal activity by reproducing DVDS of pirated movies for the purposes of selling  or renting them out to the market.   We also carry out an investigation to identify the reproduction of unauthorized and illegal pirated DVDs by examining the physical characteristics and attributes of the DVD and its contents to determine when it was reproduced.   A crucial part of the investigation is to determine the identity of the copyright infringers, business names, addresses and where they are manufacturing the product.   It is also important  to establish the amount of profits copyright infringers are earning from the sale of the unauthorized and illegal pirated  DVDs.

Another  important element of our investigation is to prove that the accused had knowledge that he/she was in violation of the Copyright Act.   The best way to meet this level of threshold of evidence is to send a warning letter by registered mail or personal delivery advising them of the specific copyright laws which they could be violating.    These letters are generally sent by our clients.   Once the copyright infringers are informed that what they are doing is illegal, we will conduct additional undercover buys to establish that they have knowledge of their illegal activity/ies.  We will also attempt to prove that they are continuing to engage in the illegal activity/ies under the Copyright Act.

If our investigation is successful, this will provide the grounds for an Affidavit in Support of a Search Warrant.

Filing a Small Claim in Manitoba.

If you are considering filing a small claim in Manitoba, I trust this information will be valuable to you.  It is not necessary to hire a lawyer for these claims.

A small claim in Manitoba is a legal action commenced by the Plaintiff in the small claims court about a financial dispute that is less than or equal to $10,000.  You can also file a claim if you were involved in a motor vehicle accident to determine liability.      The onus will be on the plaintiff to prove the case, so it is important that you have evidence to support your claim.  Evidence can be in the form of your testimony,  documentation or witnesses.

The action of the claim is filed at the court office nearest to where your dispute arose.  There are two small claims courts in Winnipeg; one in St. Boniface and the other is at the main court on York Avenue.  If you live in rural Manitoba, there are generally small claims courts in each jurisdiction.

When you are ready to file your small claim, ensure that you have the correct spelling of the defendant’s name.   You also must have their full mailing address.  If the action is against a company, it would be wise to conduct a search of the company at the companies office located in Winnipeg.   This is public information.  If the company is a sole proprietor, you will need to list the party and the company’s name in the small claim as defendants.   If the company is listed as an incorporation, you can only file the action against the incorporation.   Once you have obtained the correct legal names, you are ready to file your small claim at the court office.    The clerks are generally very helpful and will guide you through the process.    When you have completed the form, the clerk will provide you with duplicate copies.  Maintain one copy for your records and the other copy is to be served upon the defendant.     You can serve the defendant by personal service or by means of a registered letter.   If there are two defendants to serve, you will be required to serve both Defendants.  For example, if you are serving an entity that is a sole proprietor, you must serve the individual and the business.   Once service is personally  effected, you will be required to fill out a form called the Declaration of Service.   These forms can be obtained at the court office.   You must serve the party within 30 days from the time the small claim was filed at the court office.   If for some reason, you cannot execute service within this time frame, you can request an extension for service.  This form can be obtained at the court office as well.  You will be required to set a new court date, file the form and serve the Notice of Extension of Time along with the Small Claim and Notice of Intention to Appear.

At the time of your hearing, it is important to be prepared and always be polite.     State your case in a clear and concise manner.  If you have witnesses to support your argument, ensure they attend.   You have the option to subpoena them.    You will have an opportunity to directly examine them.  The opposing party will also have an opportunity to cross-examine your witnesses.

When both sides present their arguments, the hearing officer will make a decision.     You will receive a formal notice in the mail.   If you lose, you can appeal the process  by filing a Notice of Appeal in the Court of Queen’s Bench.     If you win and the other party does not appeal the decision or fails to satisfy the judgment, you can file a Notice of Garnishment and serve their employer to garnish their wages.   If you have the name of the defendant’s financial institution, you may serve a manager at the financial institution to garnish their bank account.   If you are unable to locate assets or you are having difficulty finding out where the defendants are employed, we will assist you in that regard.

When you receive judgment against a defendant, this judgment is registered against them in their credit bureau file and will last for a number of years.

Florida Criminal Records

If you require a criminal record check in the State of Florida, we require the full name and date of birth of the party being searched.  The search results are immediate.  Florida State law does not require the consent of the party to perform these searches.   

Minnesota Criminal Records

We provide criminal records in the State of Minnesota for a permissible purpose.  Under Minnesota statute 13.87(f) a person who intends to accesses criminal records to obtain information regarding an applicant for employment, housing, or credit must disclose to the applicant the intention to do so.

Commerical credit reports.

On behalf of suppliers, banks, leasing companies, insurance companies, customers, partners and investors all over the world, we have access to commercial reports in most countries now.

These search reports will allow you to verify company  information to  manage your risks.  It provides a complete snap shot of the credit worthiness of a company.

If you are considering partnering or investing with another company in an unfamiliar country, we now have the ability to lessen the risk by accessing these reports on your behalf.

How to spot a counterfeit electrical product?

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As a consumer, you must be diligent when buying electrical products.   All electrical products should bear the CSA (Canadian Standards Association) logo.  However, some logos could also be counterfeit.   The above photograph depicts an example of counterfeit CSA logo where the manufacture attempted to conceal the logo on the packaging.   An authentic logo will never be concealed.  This logo does not contain the CSA trademark.  It also not contain the name of the country that the product was certified.  It is important to also check the logo on the product as well.

Counterfeit products are unsafe and they can potentially be a fire hazard.   If you suspect that an electrical product is counterfeit, you can compare the logo to an authentic Canadian Standards Association (CSA) logo found on their web site to verify if the product has been certified and has met the safety standards for the market.  Their web site is http://www.csagroup.org/us/en/home.

Another good indicator of a counterfeit is poor packaging.  A counterfeit product may also have spelling errors on the packaging.    If you suspect your product is counterfeit, check to see if the product you have purchased has been recalled by comparing the model number to the model number found on the CSA web site.  If the product has been tested at the CSA laboratory and failed, they will notify the public by providing a safety alert.

If the price seems too good to be true, further investigate the product to ensure it is legitimate.  Also, ensure the manufacturers full name and address are listed on the packaging.  If the packaging only states the country the product was manufactured, this is another indicator that the product could be counterfeit.   All authentic electrical products are accompanied with warranties and instructions.

It is important to purchase from reputable retailers and always trust your instincts.  If the price is too good to be true, this is a very likely indicator that it is counterfeit.

North Dakota Criminal Records.

We provide criminal records in the State of North Dakota for employment and licensing purposes only.     We require the written consent of the party.   If the written consent of the party is not included in the request, you must have their last known address.   A copy of the record will be forwarded by the State of North Dakota, in the event that a signed consent is not provided.  State law is required to advise the party that their record has been released.

What organizations need to know about hiring investigators!

Many organizations hire investigators for a number of reasons. Employees may be on disability or sick leave. If you suspect that your employee is abusing their benefits, you will be required to establish that you have exhausted all other possible avenues before hiring an investigator to carry out a surveillance.

As an organization, you will also have to demonstrate the purpose of the surveillance and what you want to achieve in the investigation. This must be conveyed to the investigator in writing. If the purpose of the surveillance is to determine where the claimant is working, we are only authorized to carry out an investigation for that purpose. If you require video evidence of the surveillance, it is important that you instruct the investigator to obtain this evidence.

As part of the assignment, we will need a photograph of the claimant for identification purposes. We will also require their address, make and model of vehicle and their license plate number. If the employee is injured, we will also require a brief description of the alleged injury.

We will carry out the surveillance during normal working hours and while the claimant is in the public where there is no reasonable expectation of privacy.

As part of the investigation, we will follow the claimant to identify the places that they visit.  We will provide as much detail as possible which will include a report of the surveillance along with video footage.