Vancouver Aquarium files lawsuit against documentary filmmaker

VANCOUVER -- The Vancouver Aquarium has filed a lawsuit alleging copyright infringement by a filmmaker whose documentary was critical of the facility's treatment of dolphins and beluga whales.

See Full Article

Gary Charbonneau's documentary "Vancouver Aquarium Uncovered" was posted on YouTube and Vimeo, but he said Vimeo took down the film last week.

A notice of civil claim stated Charbonneau and his company Evotion Films Inc. used images and video from the aquarium's official website and blog without permission, and that he violated a contract allowing him to film at the facility.

"The defendants have each been guilty of reprehensible, insulting, high-handed, spiteful, malicious and oppressive conduct," the notice said.

"Such conduct by the defendants justifies the court in imposing a substantial penalty of exemplary damages on the defendants, imposing an award of aggravated damages."

The aquarium claimed general and special damages. It said Charbonneau violated the terms of a contract allowing him to film at the premises when he used the footage for commercial purposes.

The facility is also seeking an injunction to remove the video from YouTube, the filmmaker's website and any other public location.

The North Vancouver-based filmmaker and entrepreneur said a fair-use defence would apply because he gave proper credit and used the material to educate the public about the facility.

"When the aquarium has to go to these levels to silence a film, then there's something seriously wrong," he said Wednesday.

"They can't attack the facts, they can't assault the information that's contained within the film, so now they're trying other avenues."

The documentary alleges that belugas kept in captivity have a much higher infant death rate than those in the wild and that the aquarium is buying dolphins from Japan under the pretence of a rescue and rehabilitation program.

None of the allegations have been tested in court.

The aquarium has published a lengthy blog post disputing many of the film's allegations and accusing Charbonneau of deliberately creating an inaccurate and misleading movie.

The post said that over a 39-year period, four beluga calves have died at the aquarium due to unrelated and unpreventable causes. The two dolphins that arrived at the facility in 2005 from Japan were rescued as badly injured animals caught in fixed fishing nets, it added.

The aquarium said in a statement Wednesday that it has taken great care to develop educational materials intended to promote conservation and it's important to protect them from inappropriate use.

"We encourage open discussions about topics related to marine science -- those discussions should be grounded in truth and facts."

YouTube has an online form for submitting copyright infringement complaints. The website did not immediately respond to questions about whether it would remove the film.

Anna Pippus, a lawyer with advocacy group Animal Justice, said companies like YouTube frequently remove content once a lawsuit alleging copyright infringement has been filed.

"If you make a copyright claim they may not take it down, but if you can prove that you've filed in court they will take it down," she said. "That's their standard."

The suit also named a Jane Doe and John Doe who "assisted" the filmmaker and company in committing the causes of action, but their identities are not known to the aquarium.

Charbonneau said he has no idea who the two unnamed defendants could be.



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • 'The Post' renews attention for Pentagon Papers ruling

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Steven Spielberg's Oscar-nominated "The Post" has revived interest in the newspaper battles of the 1970s, the lives of Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham and executive Ben Bradlee and the risks of publishing the top-secret documents known as "The Pentagon Papers. Source
  • Man says he kicked Chevy Chase in self-defence during traffic dispute

    Entertainment CBC News
    A New York man says he kicked Chevy Chase in self-defence after the comedian climbed into a vehicle and tried to punch him during a profanity-laced traffic dispute. Chase told police he was cut off by another driver on Feb. Source
  • French customs officials recover stolen Degas painting from bus

    Entertainment CBC News
    French customs officers have found an impressionist painting by Edgar Degas stowed on a bus, more than eight years after it was reported stolen. The French Culture Ministry said Friday that customs agents in Marne-la-Vallee were surprised to find a work of art bearing the signature Degas inside a suitcase in the bus' luggage compartment. Source
  • Mary J. Blige, Common, Andra Day among Oscar performers

    Entertainment CBC News
    The original singers of the year's five Oscar-nominated songs will reprise their performances live on the Oscar stage. Academy Awards producers said Friday that supporting actress nominee Mary J. Blige, Common, Andra Day, Gael Garcia Bernal, Miguel, Natalia Lafourcade, Keala Settle and Sufjan Stevens will perform during the March 4 ceremony. Source
  • Five movie legends who made Oscars history

    Entertainment CTV News
    Before finding out which actors and actresses win big at the 90th Academy Awards, Sunday, March 4, here's a look at five movie legends who have made Oscars history. Katharine Hepburn With four Oscar wins and 12 nominations, Katharine Hepburn has held the record for most acting Oscars for more than 35 years. Source
  • HFPA investigating actor Brendan Fraser's groping claim

    Entertainment CTV News
    The Hollywood Foreign Press Association says it is investigating actor Brendan Fraser's claim that its former president, Philip Berk, groped him in 2003. Fraser, 49, best known for his role in "The Mummy" trilogy, made the accusation in an interview with GQ magazine. Source
  • Inuk Greenlandic actress plays lead female in new AMC horror show about Franklin's expedition

    Entertainment CBC News
    Missing for 170 years now, the bodies of the 129 crew members of Sir John Franklin's Northwest Passage expedition likely litter King William Island, Nunavut. The remains that have been found show signs that in their last moments, those men ate each other. Source
  • Do you have what it takes to be a K-pop idol?

    Entertainment CBC News
    K-pop is having a moment: buoyed by the massive crossover success of boy band BTS — celebrated on American talk and radio shows last fall — and a lively part of the soundtrack to the Pyeongchang Games, where EXO and CL are slated to rock the Winter Olympics closing ceremony this weekend. Source
  • L.A. court throws out defamation suit against former Crystal Castles singer

    Entertainment CBC News
    A California court has thrown out a defamation suit against Alice Glass, former singer for the Toronto band Crystal Castles, a statement from her lawyer said. Glass has publicly accused her bandmate of sexual abuse. Source
  • Arkells set to perform in front of Team Canada in Pyeongchang

    Entertainment CTV News
    Following a whirlwind few days and an unexpected invite to South Korea, the Arkells are set to perform in front of Canada’s top winter athletes at the Olympics. The band will perform in front of Team Canada on Saturday night, local time. Source