The Supreme Court of Canada on Friday heard a dispute over the copyright of land surveys, with interveners from across the legal community.
The long-running Ontario-based case, Keatley Surveying Ltd. v. Teranet Inc., alleges that Teranet, which runs Ontario’s electronic land registry system through a public-private partnership, is in breach of copyright “by reaping substantial profits” at the expense of land surveyors, according to the SCC’s case summary. The case summary said that statutes require the public to pay a fee to get copies of registered plans of survey, but none of that fee goes toward royalties for the land surveyors who prepared the plans of survey.
Vancouver lawyer Luciana Brasil, a partner at Branch MacMaster LLP, who represented Keatley Surveying Ltd., focused her oral arguments on the statutory interpretation of s. 12 of the Copyright Act. According to the SCC’s case summary, once plans of survey are deposited, as required, in the land registry office, the ownership and copyright of the plans are transferred to the province under the Copyright Act.