Trout Point Lodge Ltd. vHandshoe, 2014 NSSC 62

This was an application for an assessment of damages pursuant to the Nova Scotia Civil Procedure Rules. The litigation between these parties arose out of Handshoe’s “defamatory actions conducted through the Internet”, which were made in relation to a news story that was published in a Louisiana newspaper (para. 6). The first proceeding between these parties (decision here) resulted in a default judgment against Handshoe, and an assessment of damages. The applicants did not realize any of those awards.

In addition to seeking (and obtaining) further damages for defamation, the applicants sought damages for copyright infringement in relation to four (4) photographs disseminated on the Internet by Handshoe. The applicants requested statutory damages instead of general damages. The Court noted that there was “ample evidence” that Handshoe disseminated the photographs for commercial purposes, namely blogging, and the Court found that Handshoe’s use of the photographs was to destroy the business interests of the applicant and to enhance the credibility of Handshoe’s blog.

The Court found that, (1) copyright infringement occurred between the time of the decision in the first proceeding and the start of this application, (2) that the photographs were the property of the applicants when used by Handshoe, (3) that Handshoe ignored the applicants’ complaints, and (4) that Handshoe had offended the injunction that was issued in the first proceeding. As a result, the Court said this was a “case for generous statutory damages as well as punitive damages.” The Court awarded $20,000 in statutory damages per infringement, as well as $100,000 in punitive damages.

While there was also a claim related to the tort of wrongful appropriation of personality, the Court declined to award damages in this regard since the Court believed that damages for copyright infringement adequately addressed Handshoe’s conduct.