Waldman v. Thomson Reuters Canada Limited
Copyright Class Action
What this class action is about
A proposed class action was commenced on May 25, 2010 against Thomson Reuters Corporation and Thomson Reuters Canada Limited on behalf of a class of Canadian lawyers and law firms.
The Statement of Claim alleges that Thomson Reuters breaches copyright by making available original lawyer created legal documents for fee or subscription without permission from, or compensation to, the authors of the documents.
The claim alleges that legal documents written by the proposed representative plaintiff, Lorne Waldman, (along with more than 50,000 other documents) have been copied by Thomson Reuters and that verbatim copies of these documents have been made available for download via its “Litigator” service. Litigator is a fee and subscription-based database for lawyer-created court documents that permits users to copy and edit documents for their own purposes. At no time are the authors of these documents informed that their documents are copied, sold, or reproduced. Documents downloaded from this service are branded “© Thomson Reuters Canada Limited or its Licensors. All rights reserved.”
May 26, 2016: The class action has been settled
The Notice of Settlement is now available in English and in French. The Notice provides information about the settlement, and explains how you may opt out of the class action. The deadline to opt out is August 11, 2016.
April 28, 2016 – Divisional Court grants appeal
The Divisional Court has allowed the plaintiff’s appeal, holding that Justice Perell committed errors of law in refusing to approve the proposed settlement. Specifically, the Court held that Justice Perell erred in:
- characterizing the settlement as an expropriation of class members’ property rights;
introducing an additional factor – “institutional fairness – to be considered in determining whether to approve a class action settlement; and
- determining that, as a result of recent Supreme Court decisions, the litigation was now “prohibitively high-risk”, but nevertheless requiring the plaintiff to incur the time, expense and exposure in proceeding with a class action that had become no longer viable.
The Divisional Court also approved the class counsel fees provided in the settlement as fair and reasonable.
June 16, 2015 – Divisional Court grants leave to appeal
The Divisional Court has granted leave to appeal Justice Perell’s decision to refuse to approve the settlement reached by the parties, holding that there is good reason to doubt its correctness. The plaintiff will now proceed to perfect the appeal and a hearing date will be set in due course.
January 28, 2015 – Court of Appeal refuses to hear the appeal
The Court of Appeal has determined that the decision of a case management judge to refuse a settlement is an interlocutory order. Consequently, the plaintiffs cannot appeal to the Court of Appeal but must seek leave to appeal the Superior Court’s decision to the Divisional Court.
November 18, 2014 – Court of Appeal hears arguments
On November 18, 2014, the Court of Appeal heard submissions in respect of whether the decision of a case management judge to refuse a settlement is a final or interlocutory order. That decision, which will determine whether an appeal can be pursued in the Court of Appeal, is under reserve.
March 4, 2013 – Superior Court refuses to approve the parties’ settlement
Justice Perell of the Ontario Superior Court refused to approve the settlement reached by the parties. The Superior Court’s decision has been appealed and will be heard in November 2014.
October 5, 2013 – The parties have settled the class action
We have reached a settlement on behalf of representative plaintiff Lorne Waldman in his copyright infringement class proceeding against Thomson Reuters.
The next step is for the Superior Court to consider whether it ought to approve the settlement; that hearing is scheduled for February 19, 2014.
The settlement agreement requires that in the future Thomson Reuters will provide notice to all lawyers or paralegals whose work they intend to use, and will refrain from publishing or reproducing a work without consent. Thomson Reuters will also require its users to abide by the Copyright Act, and will not make any claim to copyright in respect of court-filed documents.
Thomson Reuters has agreed to pay $350,000.00 to provide seed money for an innovative legal scholarship fund (the “Fund”) that will benefit lawyers, law students and the public: the Fund will provide financial assistance to lawyers involved in public interest litigation, provided that the lawyer receiving money agrees to work with a law student enrolled in a complementary program at a participating Canadian law school.
To date, the individuals who have expressed an interest in acting as trustees of the Fund include some of the most influential and well respected lawyers and jurists across Canada, including former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Ian Binnie. Similarly the University of Ottawa, Osgoode Hall Law School, the University of Victoria and Dalhousie University have also indicated their intention to participate in the program.
June 11, 2012 – Motion for leave to appeal denied
The Divisional Court has dismissed Thomson Reuters’ motion for leave to appeal the certification.
February 21, 2012 – The class action has been certified
The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has certified the claim as a class action.