Forcing the Issue

April 24th, 2016

On March 9th, the day after the Court Ruling on private ownership of law, we wrote letters to the various governments of Canada.

We reminded these governments that under the T-646-15 Ruling, any text submitted for inclusion within legislation remains the private property of the originator or copyright assignment holder for that text.  As the Ruling put it, with all such legislation “copyright does not belong to the Crown.”  Background on that Ruling is here.

Then we reminded them that “P.S. Knight Co. Ltd. is the lawful owner of the copyright assignment [covering] Mr. Peter Knight’s contributions to” electrical law.

Mr. Knight was a major contributor to the drafting of electrical law during its formative years.  For fifty years from approximately 1955 – 2005, Mr. Knight made substantive contributions to this legislation. 

“Specifically,” we wrote, “Mr. Knight contributed to twenty Sections of the CEC, one now deleted Section, seven CEC Tables, and one now deleted Table.”

Critically for us, we currently hold the copyright assignment for all of these contributions.  To back that up, we have working papers for some of his years of contribution, including some 500 pages of drafting notes, Code Committee minutes, proposals covering various Code changes, a range of drafting agendas, etc.

Continuing in our letter, and in bluntness; “In accordance with the above noted Court Ruling, and through lawful possession of copyright assignments covering Federal, provincial and territorial electrical laws, P.S. Knight Co. Ltd. is the legal owner of significant portions of electrical law in Canada.”

And that’s true, however surreal it may seem.  Under the Ruling, we privately own some of Canada’s laws.  We don’t agree that we should own them, and regular readers know that we fought for four hard years against this result.  So what now?

The Ruling was a lemon.  So let’s make lemonade.

“We note that the Federal Government has passed the CEC into law and Industry Canada is enforcing this law.  In the context of the above noted Ruling, you are currently using, quoting from, and enforcing our laws without our authorization.”

Then we warned these governments of coming invoices.  That’s right, if the law is our property and if they’re using our property, then we have the right to charge them for that usage.

We reminded these governments that the Ruling is the opposite of what we wanted, we affirmed that it was also likely the opposite of what these governments wanted but, because they declined to intervene with us for these four years, we are all now forced to deal with the absurdity of private law.

Finally, in niceness, we reminded these governments that they could enjoin our appeal on the Ruling.  However belated, an enjoinment would help get us, and them, out of this predicament.  Well folks, unfortunately not a single provincial or territorial government was willing to join our appeal.  It seems that they’re ok with this Ruling.

Well, ok then.  On April 19th, we sent a follow-up letter to these same governments of Canada;

“Further to our letter of March 9th, 2016 (enclosed), and pursuant to the Federal Court Ruling of March 8th, 2016 (the T-646-15 Ruling), and in the context of our Copyright Assignment covering text of the Canadian Electrical Code, kindly find enclosed our invoice of today’s date.”

Invoicing governments is the easy part.  Collections are the tricky bit.  That’s next.