Announcement: The CIRA Verdict
July 15th, 2015
In May of this year, CSA launched a claim against RestoreCSA with the Canadian Internet Registry Authority (CIRA).
In Canada, CIRA is the authority responsible for the registration of website addresses. They don’t control the content of websites but they do have power over the addresses of websites using the “.ca” suffix. In this case, the CSA was claiming the right to own the RestoreCSA.ca address and, on this argument, they made some demands.
Specifically, CSA requested that CIRA “order that the registration of [RestoreCSA.ca] be transferred to the Complainant.” In other words, they wanted CIRA to take the RestoreCSA.ca address away from its legal owner, P.S. Knight Co. Ltd., and give that ownership to CSA Group.
By May 2015, there were thousands of links to RestoreCSA content online and many thousands of people familiar with the RestoreCSA.ca address. There would be a lot of dead links if CSA could forcibly acquire control of the RestoreCSA.ca address.
But note that CSA didn’t ask CIRA to terminate the RestoreCSA.ca address, they requested an actual transfer of ownership. That means that CSA could put whatever it wanted onto RestoreCSA.ca and our readership could be deceived as to the authorship of that content.
Consider what would happen if the NDP somehow took control of the Conservative Party website. What messages do you think the NDP would put there? That’s about what we expected the CSA to have done, had they won.
Well, we’re pleased to announce that they didn’t win.
The CIRA verdict was announced on June 25th; the RestoreCSA.ca address remains the property of P.S. Knight Co. Ltd. The CSA lost their first formal claim.
In our Defence as filed, and as noted in the publicly released Decision, “there are now three separate proceedings for what [RestoreCSA] claims are essentially the same issues.”
The bottom line is that CSA started a Federal Court action against P.S. Knight Co. in 2012 and has subsequently amended that claim to include various complaints about RestoreCSA.ca. But CSA has an incredibly weak case. The essence of their Federal claim is that they privately own public laws, and that’s not what a strong claim looks like. As a result, for three years now, CSA has been delaying their Federal action.
The CSA’s CIRA claim took place in the context of that Federal action and, indeed, it overlaps that action. The CSA tried to circumvent their own Federal court process in order to seize control of a website they were upset with.
In its Decision, CIRA stated that “it is also apparent from the material in the Response that the Federal Court Action deals directly with the subject matter of the Complaint.” Yes, that it does. This “subject matter [is] merely one aspect of an ongoing dispute between the Complainant and the Registrant”. Again, quite correct. Then CIRA rightly noted that the Federal Court action should be dealt with in the Federal Court.
We have been disappointed by the attitudes and actions of CSA since 2012. Having started a Federal Court process, that process should be respected, it should be honourably adhered to in all conduct.
Thus far at least, RestoreCSA.ca has not been silenced.