Appeal Court Confirms No Moral Rights Issue Triggered by Sale of Books in Discount Stores

The Québec Court of Appeal recently confirmed a 2021 decision about the sale of books from the series Les Chevaliers d’émeraude in discount stores, something the author had objected to, in a lawsuit alleging (inter alia) that the sale of unsold and unsellable copies violated her moral rights to the integrity of her works.

The decision at issue, 91439 Canada ltée (Éditions de Mortagne) v. Robillard (2022 QCCA 76), essentially refused to contradict the initial judgment as to the issue of moral rights, thereby confirming the sale at rebate of unsold copies by the editor, and then by the rebate retailer Dollarama, did not pose a copyright (moral rights) problem, in this specific case anyway.

Though thousands of copies of the books at issue were sold off in a manner that resulted in left-over copies being essentially sold off (at $2.00) in certain discount stores (from the Dollarama retail chain), the court concludes there simply was insufficient evidence as to the actual condition of the copies that went on sale at Dollarama stores to be able to conclude anything as to the integrity of the works.

In short, though some other author may eventually be able to make such an argument, if a similar case ever gets to court, the plaintiff would have to bring forth much more evidence that the works had been defaced, cut short, deformed or somehow affected by the poor condition of the books at issue, before a Canadian court can entertain the idea that it should be equated to a violation of moral rights.