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Lawsuit against a teacher who sold the works of his students

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Parents of ten students are suing both the school board and the teacher for copyright infringement.

Radio- Canada

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A group of parents is suing an art teacher and his school board after students found some of their artwork for sale on the teacher's personal website in February.

The parents of ten young students at Westwood High School in Saint-Lazare, Quebec, a suburb west of Montreal, have filed a $1.575 million lawsuit against teacher Mario Perron and the Lester B. Pearson School Board for alleged copyright infringement, the equivalent of $155,000 per plaintiff plus punitive damages.

Joel DeBellefeuille, who is part of the group of parents who filed the lawsuit Friday in the Superior Court of Quebec, notes that while the amount claimed may seem considerable, it represents the extent of the violation of the intellectual property suffered by his child.

We asked for $5,000 per infringed work of art, explains the one who calls for the professor's dismissal, specifying that there were 31 works plagiarized by pupil. However, only ten parents are participating in the class action.

Under the Copyright Act of Canada (New window), statutory damages range from $500 to $20,000 per work.

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I was in shock. I didn't think a professor could sell our work. It's unbelievable. […] Our teacher should have had our consent.

A quote from Jax DeBellefeuille, a secondary 2 student

For his part , Edith Liard deplores that the incident discouraged her daughter from becoming an artist.

My daughter loves art, she always has, and this year, after everything that happened, she said to me: “I don't think I'll enroll in art.” #x27;next year. I was surprised because she chose to study at this school precisely for their art program.

A quote from Edith Liard, one of the members of the parents' group

The parent group is also demanding a written apology from the teacher, removal of the works from all websites and an accounting of all sales made.

Edith Liard and Joel DeBellefeuille specify that the group of parents sent a formal notice – in which they demanded $350,000 in damages – with similar requests to the school board before moving on. sue, but it was not taken into account.

The teacher allegedly gave his 96 students a project in January called Scary Portrait, in which the students drew their self-portrait or the portrait of a classmate of class, drawing inspiration from the style of American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.

In February, students were shocked to discover their drawings were for sale on their art teacher's website. They were available for purchase as posters, although it was also possible to have them printed on coffee mugs, T-shirts, bags and cell phone cases. The most expensive items were listed for $174.

The teacher and school board now have two weeks to respond to the lawsuit . Last month, the school board noted that it was investigating and taking the allegations seriously.

In an email sent Sunday, the Lester-B.-Pearson School Board responded to CBC News that it does not comment on internal investigations or human resources issues.

CBC was unable to reach the 'teacher.

With reporting from Sabrina Jonas, Kwabena Oduro, Erika Morris and Jay Turnbull of CBC News

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