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Vancouver Aquarium Drops Copyright Lawsuit Against Filmmaker

Animal Justice March 8, 2018

VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Aquarium has dropped its copyright lawsuit against filmmaker Gary Charbonneau. The Aquarium filed a notice of discontinuance in the case this week, shortly before CEO John Nightingale was set to be cross-examined by counsel for Mr. Charbonneau.

The Aquarium first filed the copyright infringement lawsuit against Mr. Charbonneau in 2016 over his documentary Vancouver Aquarium Uncovered, which exposed the Aquarium’s cruel practice of confining sentient whales and dolphins in concrete tanks. The lawsuit was deemed a misuse of copyright law by legal experts, designed to suppress public criticism and debate through the court process.

The Aquarium sought to have the entire documentary removed from the internet, and was successful in obtaining a preliminary injunction ordering that certain segments be removed. On appeal, the B.C. Court of Appeal overturned that injunction, emphasizing the importance of Mr. Charbonneau’s freedom of expression.

Animal Justice intervened in the appeal to express concerns that the case could negatively affect the ability of animal advocates to film, expose, and publicize animal cruelty issues across Canada, emboldening secretive animal use industries to file illegitimate copyright lawsuits to silence animal advocates. This could prevent them from investigating, documenting, and exposing hidden animal cruelty.

“I am delighted this frivolous lawsuit has finally been dropped,” said Mr. Charbonneau. “However, I remain troubled by the Aquarium’s aggressive litigation strategy, and I am concerned they will continue to fight losing legal battles at the expense of conservation and rescue.”

“We are glad the Aquarium has finally determined to drop its unmeritorious lawsuit and let the documentary speak for itself, so that Canadians can make their own judgments about the ethics of the Aquarium’s practices,” said Arden Beddoes of Arvay Finlay LLP, counsel to Mr. Charbonneau.

“This lawsuit had disturbing implications for those who investigate, document, and expose animal cruelty,” said Camille Labchuk, a lawyer and executive director of Animal Justice. “The writing is on the wall for the cruel captivity industry, as the public no longer supports keeping sentient animals confined for entertainment.”

The Aquarium also sought judicial review of the Vancouver Park Board’s bylaw banning them from keeping whales and dolphins in Stanley Park. The bylaw was overturned last month, but the Park Board is appealing to the B.C. Court of Appeal.

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The Notice of Discontinuance is available here.

For more information, contact:

Gary Charbonneau
evotioninc@gmail.com

Arden Beddoes
Arvay Finlay LLP
abeddoes@arvayfinlay.ca

Camille Labchuk
Executive Director, Animal Justice
camille@animaljustice.ca

Animal Justice

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Animal Justice Intervening in Vancouver Aquarium Copyright Appeal at BC Court of Appeal

Animal Justice March 19, 2017

VANCOUVER – National animal law organization Animal Justice will argue before the BC Court of Appeal on Monday as an intervener in an important appeal that could affect the ability of animal advocates to film, expose, and publicize animal cruelty in Canada.

The case is an appeal from a decision of the BC Supreme Court in a lawsuit filed by the Vancouver Aquarium against filmmaker Gary Charbonneau over his documentary Vancouver Aquarium Uncovered, which exposes the cruelty of keeping sentient whales and dolphins in captivity at the Aquarium. The Aquarium sued Mr. Charbonneau for alleged copyright violations, and sought an injunction to remove the film from the internet. In April 2016, the injunction judge ordered that several minutes of footage must be removed from the film.

Legal experts have called the Aquarium’s lawsuit an abuse of copyright law and an illegitimate attempt to silence free speech on a matter of public importance. The BC Court of Appeal granted Mr. Charbonneau leave to appeal the injunction.

Animal Justice will intervene to argue that if the injunction decision is not overturned, secretive animal use industries will be emboldened to file illegitimate copyright lawsuits to silence animal advocates. This could prevent them from investigating, documenting, and exposing hidden animal cruelty. The BC Civil Liberties Association is also intervening in the appeal.

Camille Labchuk, lawyer and executive director of Animal Justice, will be available for comment following the appeal, along with Mr. Charbonneau and his lawyer Arden Beddoes.

Animal Justice is represented by Bryan McLean of Lindsay LLP.

What:
The BC Court of Appeal will hear arguments in the case of Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre v. Gary Charbonneau

When:
Monday, March 20, 2017
Supporters of Mr. Charbonneau will gather at 9:00 a.m. outside the courthouse for a rally
Court begins at 10:00 a.m. PT

Where:
BC Court of Appeal, Room 60
900 Smithe Street, Vancouver

Who:
Camille Labchuk, lawyer and executive director of Animal Justice

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For more information, contact:

Camille Labchuk
Executive Director
camille@animaljustice.ca

Animal Justice

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