In Pelchat v. Zone 3 Inc., 2013 QCCS 78, a Quebec court decision has addressed the dichotomy between the idea for a TV show, and the “form and expression” of ideas, as embodied in a TV show. In this case, the defendant Zone 3 was sued for a claim of copyright infringement related to its makeover TV show called “Métamorphose”. The lawsuit was brought by Mr. Pelchat, who claimed that his own show “Look” (which aired in the late 1980s) was infringed by Zone 3’s show. Mr. Pelchat claimed his infringed work was a “beauty makeover of a woman on TV through hair, makeup and clothes”. Copyright law is clear that it will only protect original expressions of an idea, not the idea itself. Thus, there is no infringement where the ideas between two shows are similar, but there is no actual copying of protected original expression.

In this case, the court did review the overall expression of the two shows, the structure, dialogue, sets, characters and other elements of expression. It concluded that Zone 3 did not engage in any copyright infringement.

Thanks to the l’Association du Jeune Barreau de Montréal for its case summary and link to the original judgment.