Insight faces deadline for “Canada Sings” dispute

The copyright dispute between Insight Productions' format Canada Sings (pictured) and the Absolutely Independent-distributed Dutch format The Singing Office appears to be heading towards mediation.
November 28, 2011

The copyright dispute between Insight Productions’ Canada Sings (pictured) and Dutch format The Singing Office appears headed to mediation.

Patty Geneste, CEO and president of Amsterdam-based format distributor Absolutely Independent – which distributed The Singing Office – tells realscreen‘s sister publication Playback that she and Dutch broadcaster NCRV have given Insight and Endemol until Monday to reply to their formal complaint that Canada Sings infringes the copyright of The Singing Office.

Based on that reply, Geneste is either looking for Insight to pay for the format rights to produce Canada Sings, or likely agree to have the copyright dispute referred to FRAPA (Format Recognition and Protection Association) for mediation.

“We will wait for their reply,” she tells Playback. “Of course, we have all the scenarios ready. Depending on what they say, we will take our next step, which is difficult to know at this point.”

John Brunton, head of Insight Productions, earlier told Playback that Canada Sings, which aired on Global Television as a six-parter and has an order for a second season, did not infringe on the copyright of The Singing Office.

Should the copyright disagreement go to mediation, FRAPA will likely appoint  two neutral representatives to talk to both parties and view the competing shows, before judging whether or not format plagiarism has taken place. The increasingly competitive world of international formats has made copyright disputes going to mediation via FRAPA a common occurrence.

Proving in court an unauthorized use of a format by another producer is difficult owing to competing national laws.

And in an industry where the major format players know each other well and constantly do business with one another, preserving your reputation by protecting the integrity of competition reality formats remains a top priority.

Resolving accusations of format plagiarism via FRAPA can also save both parties time and money. Canada Sings features ordinary Canadians forming glee clubs with co-workers to compete against other workplace teams for a prize of a cash donation to a charity of their choice.

Insight’s Brunton contends the Canadian show was inspired by the success of Fox’s Glee drama.

The Singing Office has two hosts ambushing employees in two separate companies to find singing talent to compete against respective workplaces. The  U.S. version was hosted by The Spice Girls’ Mel B. and NSYNC’s Joey Fatone and had contestants vying for a grand prize of US$50,000.

“This is a no-brainer for us,” Geneste said of Insight allegedly infringing the copyright on The Singing Office after she recently viewed an episode of the Canadian glee club competition show.

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news reporter at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joins the rs team with journalism experience following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.