Supreme Court sides with Ontario in dispute over property survey copyright

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Surveyor FI

OTTAWA — A Supreme Court of Canada decision has put the brakes on a class-action suit over the rights to property surveys in Ontario.

In 2007, Keatley Surveying Ltd. brought the action on behalf of Ontario companies that deposited plans of survey in provincial land-registry offices.

Keatley argued that Teranet Inc., operator of the Ontario land-registry database on behalf of the province, infringed surveyors’ copyright by digitizing, storing and copying the plans of survey.

An Ontario judge dismissed the class action, finding that copyright concerning the plans of survey had been transferred to the province.

Keatley unsuccessfully challenged the decision in the Ontario Court of Appeal, prompting the company to take the case to the Supreme Court.

In its decision today, the high court says the Crown, not the surveyors, control copyright related to the plans.