On June 28, the Supreme Court of Canada issued what has been deemed a landmark decision, upholding an earlier Supreme Court of British Columbia ruling that Google must deindex search results worldwide of a website trafficking in goods created from stolen trade secrets of the BC-based Equustek Solutions Inc.
The decision has been applauded by creative industry associations in Canada, as well as by international groups, some of whom were interveners in the case supporting Equustek. For these groups, the decision represents a step towards better protection for intellectual property owners on the borderless Internet, where infringement can cause irreparable harm to the livelihoods of creators.
In its decision, the Supreme Court emphasized that, in order to be effective, its order must apply globally:
“The problem in this case is occurring online and globally. The Internet has no borders – its natural habitat is global. The only way to ensure the interlocutory injunction attained its objective was to have it apply where Google operates – globally.”
In a blog post, SOCAN summed up the implications of the decision for intellectual property owners:
“The decision has broad implications for intellectual property law and provides further protection to intellectual property owners for the use of their works on the Internet. Intellectual property owners can now seek an order requiring Internet intermediaries to remove access to infringing websites worldwide.”
The Association of Canadian Publishers, which represents approximately 115 Canadian-owned and controlled book publishers, and also acted as an intervener in the case, commented on the impact the decision could have on the book industry in a press release:
“The Equustek decision will be important to book publishers given the widespread online piracy of books. The Court’s decision is expected to support efforts to curb internet-based infringement of a range of digital products, including ebooks, audiobooks, and scanned print books.”
This Supreme Court decision aligns with principles supported by the Focus On Creators coalition, and has been applauded by supporting partners and other groups as having the potential to better protect the livelihoods of creators. As the Focus On Creators letter to Minister Joly states:
“The carefully designed laws and regulations of the 1990s were intended to ensure that both Canadian creators and technological innovators would benefit from digital developments. We hoped that new technology would enrich the cultural experiences for artists and consumers alike. Unfortunately, this has not happened. Instead, our work is increasingly used to monetize technology without adequately remunerating its creators.”
If you’re a Canadian creator and haven’t yet signed the letter, please read it, and sign if you agree.