This was an application to expunge a copyright registration regarding a literary work which showed two people as coauthors and co-owners of copyright. The work was the life story of a Holocaust survivor.
There was a written agreement under which the applicant was to be “author” and the respondent was to be “editor.” It was found that the agreement related to an edited transcription of the applicant’s recollections recorded on tape. It did not deal with a book. It resulted in about 30 pages of material.
There was a second oral agreement regarding the book in issue in which the parties were to be coauthors. The respondent used the applicant’s transcribed recollections, combined with further research, and wrote a 224 page book. The book was not the result of just editing the applicant’s work. The second agreement was confirmed by acts after publication of the book: both signed autographs as authors; and at a promotional reading the respondent was described as author without objection by the applicant.
After considering other Canadian, US and UK sources, the Court concluded that Levy v. Rutley (1871) LR 6 CP 523 continues to be the leading authority on the elements of joint authorship, and that:
- the existence of a work of joint authorship is established by the facts and by the law, and is not based on the parties’ intentions.
- the contributions of each of the parties need not be equal, though each must be substantial.
- even if one contribution may be qualitatively and quantitatively inferior to the other, there must be a joint labour in carrying out a common design.
Applying Levy, the respondent was found to have contributed sufficient originality and expression in a collaborative work to claim co-authorship of the book. The application to expunge the copyright registration was dismissed.