Tsisserev and Electrical Line

June 25th, 2017

Ark Tsisserev is in a spot of bother with the Canadian Standards Association (CSA).

In January, he quoted electrical laws in a national publication without permission or attribution, and he’s now knee deep in CSA’s litigation muck yard.  Here’s what happened.

Ark Tsisserev authored a column entitled Consultant’s Corner of an industry magazine called Electrical Line, in its Jan / Feb 2017 edition.  His column was on the subject of load calculations in electrical law.  It makes sense that Tsisserev authored the article, he’s an expert on electrical regulations, he’s a big name in the industry.

Indeed, Ark Tsisserev was the Chair of CSA’s 2012 Code Committee, the legislative committee responsible for the current iteration of electrical law.  He’s also the current Chair of CSA’s Strategic Steering Committee.  He was featured as a poster boy in CSA’s own Our History publication, named therein by CSA as one of their most prominent representatives. 

As an aside, CSA’s Our History was an anniversary book so crammed with contradictions and embarrassments that CSA deleted the whole thing from their website after RestoreCSA mentioned it.  For instance, remember Anthony Toderian?  He was CSA’s spokesman who put his foot in it so routinely, and so outlandishly, that he became an entertainment in his own right.  Anyway, this is what CSA’s Toderian told the National Post in 2013;  “[The] CSA Group is not a regulator and never has been”.  And how did CSA describe themselves in their own Our History book?  Why, as “The Responsible Regulator” of course.  In CSA’s Our History, Tsisserev began with; “As a member of CSA’s Standards Policy Board,” and he ended with “as a regulator …..”

But remember, CSA is not a regulator, except when they say so.  Or maybe later, just not now.  Then, yes, but now no.  Depends on who’s asking.

Well, you get the idea.  Tsisserev is a big deal at CSA, and for CSA. 

His latest article, in the Electrical Line column, included a large amount of text lifted directly from Canada’s electrical laws.  That’s supposed to be illegal.  Remember the verdict on ownership of legislation?  Electrical law, as with all such legislation, “does not belong to the Crown.”

As absurd as this Ruling was, and as highly questionable as its legitimacy has turned out to be, this Ruling is presently the law in Canada.  Art Tsisserev and Electrical Line needed to secure CSA’s written permission to quote from electrical laws, and they needed to attribute those laws to CSA’s ownership within the article.  And he didn’t.  Or at least it didn’t look like he did.

We sent both Electrical Line and Tsisserev a letter.  It went like this:

“Good morning Kevin,” we began.  A swell guy named Kevin Buhr publishes Electrical Line Magazine.

“I note that the Jan / Feb 2017 edition of Electrical Line featured an article […] authored by Ark Tsissarev, an engineer that I’ve had the pleasure of corresponding with and a friend of my father’s for many years.”  That’s not flummery by the way, we’ve had good relationship with Tsisserev.

“[The] article contained substantial quotation from the 2015 CEC, yet I note the absence of attribution to CSA and there is no indication of permission from them to reproduce.  Further, PS Knight has filed copyright with the Federal Court over those contributions to the CEC under our 2015 Copyright Assignment, yet the article did not attribute accordingly and did not seek permissions.  Finally, the article did not attribute to Provincial Queen’s Printer either, such that no matter the result of litigation the article appears to have quoted intellectual property without any attribution or permission whatsoever.”

This is getting awkward, isn’t it?

“I am fairly sure that neither you nor Ark want to get caught up in CSA’s litigations.  If there was indeed attribution within the article, or noted for the purpose of the article elsewhere within that issue, and we somehow missed it, could you kindly direct us to that text?  Second, could you kindly forward the permissions received from CSA for this instance of CEC reproduction?”

Actually, it was a fairly restrained letter, polite even.

But CSA isn’t polite about this sort of thing.  In Court in the PS Knight case, CSA claimed that “reproducing or authorizing others to reproduce” passages from electrical law, or “selling or by way of trade distributing or offering for sale such works,” by an electrical magazine for instance, are “infringements of CSA’s copyright in its Code” and therefore a violation of law.

Both Ark Tsisserev and Electrical Line are now in legal crosshairs.  What does CSA want in such sordid circumstances?

For starters, CSA wants “an accounting of the [their] profits from their copyright infringements pursuant to s.35 of the Copyright Act” with the intent to disgorge them of these monies, plus legal fees, plus punitive damages, and so forth.

According to CSA, anyone quoting the law “knows or ought to have known that their infringing works infringed the [CSA’s] copyright in its Code.” 

It seems that neither Electrical Line nor Tsisserev sought or secured permission from CSA to quote the law and neither attributed their quotations to CSA.  The CSA gets all het up over these things, as;  “all of these activities were done without any consent, license or permission from CSA.”  In remedy then, the CSA wants the Court to punish and restrain any such nasty quotation, because;  “the defendants will continue their infringements unless restrained by this Court.”

Tsisserev’s article was pretty unrestrained, I can tell you.  Nearly 40% of the article’s text was copied from electrical law.  Tsisserev quoted the law paragraph for paragraph, and for several pages.  He also copied six Code rules quoting both the 2012 text as passed into law, as well as the draft for 2018 variants of the same text.  Anyone can verify this, Electrical line put the whole issue on their website.  The Tsisserev article begins on P.27.

If the law is to be applied equally, then CSA will argue that Court should throw the book at him.  What do you think, will CSA attack their poster boy?

Unlikely, very unlikely.  Tsisserev is an insider, he’s a fellow traveller and, as we quoted from a new source last week, the CSA “gravy train was carrying a lot of passengers.”

While CSA spends millions trying to destroy PS Knight Co for quoting the law, they will likely ignore the same conduct from Tsisserev and Electrical Line.

The personal irony is that when Ark Tsisserev was in trouble several years prior to CSA’s little war against us, he reached out to Peter Knight for help.  “We need to stand together” he said, against abusive bureaucracy, a line that’s made its way into Court testimony already.  When Tsisserev needed us, we stood with him.  My father wrote letters, made protest with governments, scheduled and made representations at meetings on Tsisserev’s issue.  Yet now, when the tables have turned and Tsisserev is benefitting from bureaucracy, he doesn’t talk of standing together anymore.

Likewise, Electrical Line has not responded to our letter.  Nothing but silence from them on the whole issue.  That’s ironic too, because the question of who can use electrical law affects everyone in the electrical trade.  A magazine dedicated to reporting on electrical issues would usually cover this significant an issue.

Actually, back in 2013 we offered to work with Electrical Line in their coverage of CSA’s grab for control of law.  “As you know Kevin,” we said then, “the CEC is the rule of law all across Canada, and there are some serious problems with [CSA] claiming to own portions of public law.” 

Electrical Line didn’t reply to that letter either.  In contrast, when we purchased advertising space from Kevin the year before, we always got next day responses.  But then CSA members buy a lot of advertising, and Kevin is counting his risk.

It’s easy to promise to “stand together” when it costs nothing; integrity is harder when it risks one’s position or influence or advertising revenue.

So where do we land on this new development?

Well, whether they like it or not, Tsisserev and Electrical Line are now facing a new and exciting experience in the legal system.  Their article has been documented as evidence and will be entered into the 1178 case (being CSA’s first litigation against us).  Both Tsisserev and Electrical Line will be dragged into this process, their relationships with CSA scrutinized, and all to discern the basis for unequal treatment at law. 

It should be pointed out that we still rather like Ark Tsisserev, we don’t retract calling him elsewhere on this site an “all around good-guy.”  But we have little option, we need to use the weapons that we have.  We are under attack by this man’s employer and the question of why he and Electrical Line are treated differently, and preferentially, is a legitimate, valuable and damning line of inquiry in Court. 

Ark Tsisserev and Electrical Line just got stuck in CSA’s litigation muck yard.