Nonexistent Publications

July 9th, 2017

Nobody has ever quoted Canada’s electrical laws without CSA’s permission.  Nobody.  The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) protects their ownership of legislation “vigorously,” in every instance and without exception.

Well, that’s CSA’s claim, but we’re not convinced it’s true.

Canada’s electrical laws were established nationally nearly a century ago, in 1927.  Since then, these laws have been enforced, cited, quoted, posted, published and distributed likely many millions of times.  The nature of law is that its usage is normal, the instances of usage therefore incalculable. 

Yet, in their evidence to Court, the CSA claims that they “have always taken the position” that legislation to which they contribute is their privately owned property, and every instance of un-paid usage is unlawful.

Indeed, they say, “it is an infringement of [copyright] for anyone without CSA’s consent to… reproduce… all or a substantial part of it”.  In case you’re wondering, “infringement” means “crime.”  The CSA thinks it’s against the law to use the law.

Among the many millions of “infringing” usages of electrical law are the books which quote from that law.  And there are lots of these. 

When CSA launched their legal attack on PS Knight Co, way back in 2012, we went through the company archive looking for examples of other publications which quoted “all or substantially all” of electrical law.  Some of the publications that we found are shown below.  As you might expect, these have also been entered in Court as evidence of the normalcy of using legislation.

That’s a bit awkward for CSA, because their argument hinges on the non-existence of any of these other books.  Remember;  nobody’s ever quoted electrical law without CSA’s permission.  Nobody.

Of the books that we found in archive however, none of them cited CSA as owner of Canada’s electrical laws, yet all of them quoted extensively from these laws.  Ironically, even CSA’s own residential guidebooks, launched to compete against PS Knight Co -unsuccessfully, by the way- failed to attribute to Queen’s Printer as required for quotation of legislative text.

Even more awkward for CSA, they haven’t launched any legal attacks against any of these other publishers.  There are well over one hundred publishers represented in PS Knight’s archive alone, and none of them have been hauled into Court for daring to quote the law.  So why just us?

Well, for decades CSA worked with PS Knight Co., asked to sell our products alongside theirs, and happily welcomed every other publication quoting from the law.  It was only when CSA started competing against us that they claimed to own the law privately. 

We think that CSA’s stance has nothing to do with copyright, and everything to do with money.

A couple of points to keep in mind as you review the list of publications below;

1. Each of these publications quotes from electrical law
2. All of these publications are in PS Knight’s archive, so they are a very, very small sampling of all the books that have ever quoted the law
3. None of these publications attributes copyright to CSA, save for their own book (and that CSA book fails to attribute to Queen’s Printer)
4. Finally, some of the publications below are quarterly, some are even monthly (provincial Bulletins, for example), but for space we’re showing only a representative sample of these.  The true number of these recurring publications would be in the hundreds or thousands.

So, what do you think of CSA’s claim that nobody’s ever quoted electrical law without CSA permission?