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Facts[]

Snow, a sculptor, had sold a sculpture of a flock of geese to the Eaton Centre. As part of Christmas decorations the geese had red ribbons placed around their necks. Snow brought an action against the Centre to get an injunction to have the ribbons removed. He had argued that his naturalistic composition has been made to look ridiculous and requested an interim injunction under s.12(7) of the Copyright Act (now s.28(2)). The Eaton Centre argued that s.12(7) was not applicable in this case, and even if it was, that section was unconstitutional.

Issue[]

  1. What constitutes an infringement of moral rights under s.12(7) of the Copyright Act?

Decision[]

Interim injunction granted, costs granted to the plaintiff.

Reasons[]

The court held that while the Eaton Centre has commercial rights in the sculpture, Snow still held moral rights and the ribbons were prejudicial to his honour and reputation. The court applied a test for moral rights:

  1. Subjective component (creator’s perspective): met by Snow's frustration with the situation
  2. Objective component (perspective must be reasonably arrived at): colleagues and experts in the field agree with the prejudice to Snow's honour and reputation

The judge did not accept Eaton's argument that s.12(7) gave greater rights than those of slander or libel.

Ratio[]

Moral rights in art can be upheld through the Copyright Act if it is shown that infringement of the rights is prejudicial to the artist's honour or reputation, both subjectively and objectively.

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