The director of a documentary critical of keeping whales in captivity claims he is within his rights to use images to which the Vancouver Aquarium claims copyright.

In a response to a lawsuit filed by the aquarium last month, Gary Charbonneau argues his use of the photographs and video in Vancouver Aquarium Uncovered is permitted by the Copyright Act.

The aquarium claims Charbonneau's movie relies on images taken from the organization's website and blog. The aquarium wants an injunction to stop the hour-long documentary from streaming online.

But in his response, Charbonneau claims any use of the "allegedly copyrighted material" is "fair dealing for the purpose of research and education."

He claims he's also covered under the Copyright Act because use of material was for non-commercial purposes and the source of the material was credited at the end of the film.

Agreement allegedly breached

In its lawsuit, the aquarium says Charbonneau took the images without permission. The suit also alleges he violated the terms of a contract he signed to film on the aquarium grounds in April 2015.

The aquarium claims he's prohibited from using the footage to raise money on a crowdfunding website.

In his response, Charbonneau claims the aquarium breached the filming agreement, not him. He says he wasn't allowed to film any animals, including belugas and dolphins.

He says he was also allegedly forced to conduct rushed interviews with the aquarium's head veterinarian and vice president in noisy settings.

Charbonneau's response says neither he nor his film company, Evotion, have profited from the documentary; he says any money received by the company has been used to cover expenses or to invest in advocacy.

He claims the documentary was taken off Vimeo after the aquarium made a copyright infringement claim. But he claims YouTube sent him an email saying they had no plans to remove the film.

The response also notes that the video had received 9,000 views on YouTube before the aquarium's lawsuit was publicized. Charbonneau claims it now has nearly 19,000.

Gary Charbonneau's response to civil claim