The Supreme Court Decision
May 26th, 2019
“He’s gonna lose. The powers that be in the country simply aren’t going to permit him to walk away from this. He’s right. He’s absolutely right, he’s morally right. He’s still going to lose.”
This comment was made on May 21. Two days later, the Supreme Court of Canada issued a Decision to dismiss our appeal of Manson’s Law.
We lost this one. Bigly.
As a result, any non-government employee who’s ever contributed any text to legislation now owns that legislation privately. And they can restrict public access to their law. And they can charge for access, usage and enforcement. And they can prevent governments from using their laws, making enforcement of law unequal, a patchwork of privilege based entirely on the preferences, biases, and financial interests of these owners of law.
As economic activity is always under a wide range of legislation, and as nearly all such legislation is contributed to by private interests, almost all economic activity is now subject to veto by any of the hundreds of contributors to the laws governing that activity.
It’s more than a thumb on the scales of competition, it’s a veto over every business activity in the Country given to those with vested interests in favouring one entity over another.
It’s absurd. It won’t stand. It’ll be overturned legislatively, and that quite quickly, if for no other reason than governments won’t be willing to pay royalties to these newfound owners of law for government’s use of their laws.
Speaking of royalties, we’ve been issuing invoices to the governments of Canada since May, 2016, all based on our registered copyright covering our contributions to electrical laws. We’ve issued 468 invoices thus far, and with the Supreme Court Decision, all our invoices are now due.
Let’s be clear: We absolutely did not invoice governments because we wanted this result. Rather, we invoiced to demonstrate the consequences of shifting ownership of law from public to private. Now that the Supreme Court has eliminated further appeal however, our invoices are collectible. In theory.
We expect that the same governments who arranged these Decisions, to enable civil servants to own laws privately, will now reverse their position and refuse to pay our invoices on the argument that these same laws are public property, not subject to private invoices. We do own copyright over these texts but it won’t matter. The government will want to have it both ways; Laws are private when they send us invoices for our use, and laws are public when they receive our invoices for their use.
That’s the next fight. I’ll confess that I’m getting fatigued of fighting for the obvious.
We’ve posted the exact text of Alberta Queen’s Printer Copyright several times in these pages. Read it once again, as below;
“Alberta Queen’s Printer permits any person to reproduce Alberta’s statutes and regulations without seeking permission and without charge”
This is the legislation that governs reproduction of laws in Alberta, where we’re based. We complied with this, completely.
Folks, the Supreme Court of Canada has just found PS Knight guilty of obeying the law. And they’ve punished us for it.
We’re now on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars in penalties, and we have to pay the legal expenses of our opponents in the civil service. And the Supreme Court very helpfully added a whole bunch of new costs in their Decision. Now we also have to pay the civil service for their trouble in opposing our appeal in the first place.
Add to that their efforts to put me (Gordon Knight) personally in prison for five years, for the crime of obeying a Court order. I know this sounds surreal, but I can assure you that we did comply completely. In fact, I can report that our legal team was stunned at the government filing against us. Because we’d complied completely, nobody on our side saw a criminal case coming.
We’re punished for obeying the law; the civil service is rewarded for breaking the law. Ain’t that great?
The SDA commenter was right; It’s not that we can’t win; it’s that we’re not allowed to win. The powers that be won’t permit an inconvenience, loss or embarrassment to the civil service. The law be damned; they’ll take what they want.
So here’s where we stand:
First, PS Knight’s authorized reproduction of electrical law, known as Knight’s Code, is no longer authorized. Knight’s Code will be unavailable until Manson’s Law has been legislatively corrected. We’re still standing, still offering our other books, but until Parliament corrects the Courts, the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) will once again be able to charge their usual extortionary rates for access to their now privately-owned electrical legislation.
We’re also still stuck in Courts on all the other lawsuits CSA’s launched against us. And we’ll be stuck there for some time. In this, the focus of our struggle shifts from courts to politics.
Second, if anyone anywhere has lobbied their MP, MPP, MLA (etc.) for changes to legislation, now would be a good time to send them an invoice for their use of your property. Charge them whatever you wish. After all, the Courts have Ruled that you can charge whatever rates you want for use of your property. Things could get pretty hot politically this year.
Third, weep for our society. We’re more like a banana republic with every passing day.