Setana Sport Limited v 2049630 Ontario Inc (Verde Minho Tapas & Lounge), 2007 FC 899 (CanLII)

Key Principle:

In order to prove copyright ownership it must be accepted as fact by the defence or proven with substantive evidence in court. Bald assertions, or simply claiming you own copyright, is not enough. Also, a corporation cannot be the “author” of a work. An author must be a real person or group of persons.


The Situation:

You run an underground sports bar that displays soccer matches from all over the world. You have a friend who is a whiz with satellite receivers, and he has set your system up so you receive numerous sports channels for which you don’t pay. One of the distributors of those channels, Straight Red Limited, has discovered your business and wants you to stop displaying its content or start paying for their service.

You discover Straight Red initiated court proceedings. However, notice of this action was only delivered to you five days ago, and the first day of hearings is only five days away! You do not have enough time to mount a defence and, as such, you do not show up to the first day of hearings.

Straight Red shows up in court and simply states they own copyright in the material you are displaying. They have no documentation to support this, as they expect to win easily because you are not there.

The Conclusion:

You may be safe, for now. A defendant must be given notice of an action against them so that they have a reasonable amount of time to mount a defence. Also, Straight Red has failed to prove their case by simply asserting they own copyright. So, trial will likely be delayed until both parties are ready to argue their case. However, if you know that Straight Red does own copyright in the material you are illegally displaying, it may be prudent to come to an agreement with them outside of court.