News & Media

Delays in Made-for-TV Movies Too Long – Reason to Sue?

June 29, 2015

Monday June 29, 2015 - PDM Entertainment Inc. v. Three Pines Creations Inc., 2015 ONCA 488 

The Ontario Court of Appeal recently had a rather high-profile case – Canadian writer Louise Penny and her company Three Pines had a disagreement with PDM Entertainment, the production company that acquired the rights to make made-for-TV movies out of her bestselling series.

Understanding the Dispute

In 2011, Penny’s company Three Pines entered into an agreement with PDM Entertainment, granting the production company a two-year option to acquire rights to the series, including exclusive rights to make each novel into a made-for-television film. 

In 2012, the first film was made, and it aired in 2013. Following its airing, the production company extended its rights for the sequel, citing a specific clause in the agreement. By 2014, the rights were once more extended for another year, citing the same clause of the agreement. 

Penny and Three Pines disputed the company’s right to extend the option rights twice; in addition to this, the production company owned up to their fault of citing the wrong clause and paying a lower fee ($4000 instead of $8000). They asked for relief from forfeiture, which is a remedy applied with great discretion in the event of an error that protects from the consequences of a mistake.

The Court Findings 

The trial judge found that the producer is entitled to extending twice, and that they do qualify for relief from forfeiture. 

Court of Appeal Findings

The Court of Appeal found that the judge’s reasons, though they were short (only about eleven paragraphs long), were not inadequate. While Penny and Three Pines argued that the production company should not qualify for relief from forfeiture because this remedy only applies if a contract has been breached; in this case, the producer only relied on the wrong clause, they did not breach the contracts. The appeals court did not accept this argument, and allowed relief from forfeiture. Finally, the appeals court also held that the producer was entitled to two extensions of the rights. 

Trust a Knowledgeable Civil Lawyer for Contract Disputes

For individuals and companies navigating contracts, especially in fields involving licensing and intellectual property, the nuances of these legal principles can be daunting. Missteps, whether in interpretation or execution, can have serious legal and financial repercussions. 

If you're dealing with contracts, or concerned about potential breaches and mistakes within your agreements, book a legal consultation with a civil litigation lawyer who specializes in contract law. At Karrass Law, our team of experts will help you take the appropriate legal action. 


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