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Lawsuit launched against obituary website alleges copyright infringement

Last Updated Jan 19, 2018 at 2:20 pm PST

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – A lawyer in Newfoundland and Labrador is bringing a class-action suit against a website that collects obituaries and reposts them.

The statement of claim, which has not been proven in court, alleges that the site managed by Afterlife Network Inc. contains hundreds of thousands of obituaries and photographs copied without permission from the websites of Canadian funeral homes and newspapers.

The Jan. 11 document says the reproductions infringe copyright, and that Afterlife hasn’t sought permission from the copyright holders.

Lawyer Erin Best is attempting to certify the lawsuit before the Federal Court of Canada.

The action says the website generates revenues by displaying the advertising of third party businesses and by permitting users to “light virtual candles and send flowers.”

A spokesperson for Afterlife was not immediately available for comment, but the company has previously told CBC that it will edit or delete information from the site on request.

Afterlife’s website says that it has become one of North America’s largest databases for obituaries.

It also says the firm seeks to inform the public of obituaries that are already on the internet by categorizing them by city.

The class action says it is seeking the “maximum relief for each obituary and photograph placed on the domain without permission.”

It also asks that the obituaries be taken off the website.

It says the obituaries are created “at a time when families and loved ones are at their most vulnerable.

“Appropriating obituaries and accompanying photographs for private commercial gain is reprehensible, and requires sanction by this Court.”