The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) has lost a lawsuit against the Conservative Party over the use of CBC footage in campaign ads in 2019.
In his decision on Thursday, Judge Michael Phelan said the CBC did not prove that the Conservative Party harmed them by using CBC footage during the 2019 federal election.
As a result, the court sided with the Conservative Party and ordered the CBC to pay their legal costs.
“In summary, this is a case about political criticism and whether the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation/Société Radio-Canada [CBC] can prevent political parties from using CBC’s copyright protected works for this purpose,” he wrote.
“The CBC has not established that it has suffered some adverse impacts from the Respondents’ use of its Works in the “attack ads”, nor should such adverse impacts be assumed.”
“This court’s judgement is that the application is dismissed with costs at the usual scale.”
Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre took to twitter to blast the CBC following the announcement of the lawsuit results.
“CBC was supposed to cover the Conservative Party fairly during the election. Instead, CBC was launching a failed lawsuit against the party. Today, CBC lost that lawsuit. They should apologize for launching it & reveal the legal bills they charged taxpayers,” tweeted Poilievre.
In 2019, the CBC filed the lawsuit against the Conservatives over attack-style campaign ads which included CBC footage, saying it was an unfair use of their copyrighted material.
The CBC also claimed their footage being used by the political party gave the “false impression” that the broadcaster was pro-Conservative.
The court found that the Conservative Party’s use of CBC footage did not violate the principles of fair dealing found in the Copyright Act. The judge noted that footage and images from other outlets were used in the campaign ads without controversy.
In response to the lawsuit in 2019, the Conservative Party took down five campaign ads. The CBC proceeded with the suit anyway, saying they wanted a “declaration as to CBC’s rights and CPC’s breach of them.”
CBC spokesperson Leon Mar said in a statement that the company was reviewing the decision.
“From the beginning, our objective has been to protect the trust Canadians have in the independence of their public broadcaster,” said Mar.
“We believe that misusing journalistic content and footage out of context in partisan political videos undermines that trust.”
On Thursday afternoon, the Conservative Party released a statement welcoming the decision by the federal court.
“This decision is a clear win for democracy. It will serve to enhance the freedom of political expression – a significant component of a healthy democracy,” the statement reads.
“As the Official Opposition, we’ll continue to highlight the many failures of the Trudeau Liberals, and we’ll continue to bring attention to areas where the government’s words don’t match their actions.”