Sun | Feb 19, 2017

TVJ wins US$125,975 in damages in copyright lawsuit against CVM

Published:Wednesday | January 11, 2017 | 11:34 AM


One of the attorneys for Television Jamaica Limited (TVJ), which has been awarded a total of US$125,975 in damages against its free-to-air rival, CVM Television Limited, in its copyright lawsuit, says the case serves as a reminder that persons should get permission before using protected material.

“The ruling has clarified the circumstances in which exclusive broadcast rights may be use by a non rights-holder. Perhaps the better approach is to make enquiries of the rights-holder and paying the appropriate licence fee” Georgia Gibson-Henlin told The Gleaner.

The award of damages to TVJ was handed down on Monday by Supreme Court judge Justice Bryan Sykes. CVM gave notice of filing an appeal and asked for a stay of payment of the award pending a hearing. Justice Sykes ordered that the stay would be granted pending CVM paying the US$125,975 into an interest bearing account in the names of the attorneys for both parties within 40 days of the judgment on January 9.

If CVM misses the deadline, without getting an extension from the court, then there would be no restriction barring TVJ from collecting the award.

TVJ took CVM to court in 2015 over the use of footage from the World Championships, held in Beijing, China. TVJ had exclusive rights to broadcast the championships and contended that CVM breached its broadcast licence. It also argued that it suffered losses as a result of the airing of content by CVM.

Sykes heard submissions and, in August 2016, ruled in TVJ’s favour. The matter then went for assessment of damages.

In his judgment from the lawsuit, while noting that use of the footage in CVM’s flagship newscast at 8 o’clock did not breach Jamaica’s copyright laws, Sykes found that their usage during the programme ‘Return to the Nest’ was in breach of TVJ’s exclusive licence.

In addition, Sykes found that a number of footage posted on CVM’s social media accounts violated TVJ’s exclusive licence because they were not protected by the fair use provision of the Copyright Act.

“The use of the clips was not for the purpose of fair dealing for reporting a current event... . This conclusion applies to the entire series of ‘Return to the Nest’,” he wrote.

“It matters now whether moving images or still were used. TVJ’s exclusive licence covered all images... . It does not matter that CVM did not get the material from TVJ’s feed, once it used material covered by TVJ’s licence and the fair dealing defence does not apply then CVM was in breach of TVJ’s rights,” Sykes continued.