Free Dominion is an online political discussion forum of a conservative cast, operated by Mark and Constance Fournier. Richard Warman claimed that the site infringed his rights in three works in which he held the copyright: a speech he had made, an article written by Jonathan Kay for the National Post and a photograph by another third party. Warman had an exclusive licence to use the Kay article and the photograph. The speech was posted in its entirety; the Kay article was taken down and replaced with an excerpt; the photograph had not been uploaded to Free Dominion but was accessible through a hyperlink to Warman’s personal website.

Could Warman (and the Post ) recover against the Fourniers? No, said Rennie J of the Federal Court: Warman v Fournier, 2012 FC 803. While Warman’s rights in the speech had clearly been infringed, he had brought his claim after the expiration of the applicable limitation period. As for the Kay article, the excerpts that were reproduced (less than half of the whole) did not amount to a ‘substantial part’ of the original and thus did not infringe; even if they did, the reproduction was fair dealing for the purpose of news reporting, which should be interpreted liberally. The link to the photograph did not infringe; by posting the image on his own website, Warman had authorised other parties (including the Fourniers) to hyperlink to it. If Warman didn’t want people to do that, he could remove the photograph from his site (which he ultimately did).

[Link available here].