Gillian Shaw, Vancouver Sun
September 13, 2011 –Two Century 21 real estate agents have been awarded a total of $32,000 in damages for copyright infringement after another company posted their listings online.
Two real estate agents whose listings were posted on Zoocasa were awarded $250 in damages for each copyright infringement. Charles Bilash, who held copyright to 24 property descriptions and 99 photos posted by Zoocasa, is to receive $30,750 in statutory damages. Michael James Walton will get $1,250 for five property descriptions.
The court’s finding that proof of agreement to terms of a website isn’t required sets a precedent in Internet law in Canada. But lawyers say it is unlikely to open the floodgates to lawsuits from website owners.
Marko Vesely, a lawyer with Lawson Lundell and counsel for the plaintiffs in the case, said the decision is the first in Canada to uphold the validity of what is known in industry terms as “browse wrap.”
He said there will be future issues arising out of this ruling for courts to consider, such as whether ordinary Internet users should be held to the same standard as corporate users and whether people can argue there wasn’t sufficient notice of the terms.
“On those facts, the courts said we can enforce those terms.”
Daniel Reid, a lawyer with Harper Grey, whose practice includes defamation, privacy and media law, said the decision is another step forward to the courts beginning to apply existing concepts of law to the Internet.
“In many ways it is a smart judgment and one that moves the law forward in terms of understanding how the Internet is regulated,” he said.