Rains v. Molea

In this case, the Court dismissed an action for infringement of copyright. The Court held that it must strike a “balance between promoting the public interest in the encouragement and dissemination of works of the arts and intellect and obtaining a just reward for the creator”. (para. 1)

The plaintiff, Rains, is a Canadian artist. The works at issue are a series of large oil paintings featuring white crumpled paper on an undefined base against a dark background. The Court found that each image of the series is original, and that copyright subsists in each painting, however not in the series as a whole. The Court then considered the alleged similarities between 17 comparisons and held that they are “conventional tropes or artistic devices historically common among painters.” (para. 30) Furthermore the Court held that the shapes were not sufficiently similar to lead to an inference of copying, and were more likely the result of coincidence.

In considering the other elements of the test for copyright infringement, the Court also held that the evidence did not demonstrate Molea had direct access to the images. Furthermore, the Court held that Molea established he created his images independently from Rains. However, the Court did hold that Rains’ claim was not statute barred.


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