back to article Search results suddenly missing from Google? Well, BLAME CANADA!

Canada's Supreme Court says America's Hat has authority over Google results worldwide – at least in cases when someone's copyright has been stomped on. The Great White North's top legal bench, ruling in a copyright infringement dustup today, has ordered the California ads giant to remove from search results links to websites …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's ok to do no evil, internationally.

    /sarcasm on:

    We can trust Google, can't we?

    Haven't we had enough cheap knockoffs like Linux

    They finally got rid of that awful page, http://google.com/linux

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Jeez, get a life.

  2. Kernel

    The next logical step for Google

    So,presumably all Google need to do is go to some other country and get another court to rule that Google must present these search results internationally and all will be ok.

    How do you get to be a judge but still be stupid enough to think your authority extends outside your little piece of dirt?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The next logical step for Google

      You might want to ask our DoJ about that. So, that makes at least two of the 5EYE's pushing extra-territoriality judgements.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The next logical step for Google

      How do you get to be a judge but still be stupid enough to think your authority extends outside your little piece of dirt?

      Ah, a reference to the USA?

      US Wire Fraud act, and how it relates to international communications?

      The USA's self declared jurisdiction over all sites globally that have Web addresses not ending in a country code (.com, .net, .org), no matter which country the servers are actually in?

      The USA's protectionist view on legitimate online gambling services operated by foreign companies and it's pursuit and jailing of the businessmen involved in running them?

      Is that the kind of extra-territoriality you were referring to?

    3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: The next logical step for Google

      People seem to think that the internet is sort of immune to national law, because it's global. And that's basically true. Unless you can get cooperation from other nations, there's always somewhere to hide a server and operate from.

      However when you're as big as Google, that can easily stop being true. Google might be doing something the courts don't like in a third country. And mostly Google will get away with saying, that has nothing to do with you. But if Google have significant assets in a country, then that country's courts can go after Google there, to force them to do stuff elsewhere.

      Something that's unlikely to be an effective tactic for say Vietnam or Tuvalu, who aren't that important to Google, but the EU, US and Canada are worth enough money to the bottom line that they can exercise some power over Google outside their borders. I seem to remember from a few years ago that Google's UK turnover was about £6 billion for example, which ought to mean the UK government and courts could make them jump if they wanted to enough.

    4. CanadaGrandpaChris

      Re: The next logical step for Google

      My dirt is connect to your dirt. It's worlds dirt and the minds connected by clear rules that the Canada rule iis thinking of. One for Canada.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does this mean...

    we can expect demands from Saudi, Iran or North Korea for illegal (to them) content to be removed then?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Does this mean...

      And next to them stands every single body on Earth with any regulatory power whatsoever. If Canada gets its way, all heck will break loose.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Didn't the EU (or was it Germany?) already try this?

        I thought they were trying to rule the "right to be forgotten" extended to google.com, not just country specific google.xx or geolocated results.

        Same thing, same stupid idea.

        1. Potemkine! Silver badge

          Re: Didn't the EU (or was it Germany?) already try this?

          Removing a result from google.com accessed from Germany where this laws applies is different to removing a result from google.com wherever it is accessed.

      2. bazza Silver badge

        Re: Does this mean...

        ...all heck will break loose.

        Doesn't sound too bad. Does it tickle?

        1. hplasm
          Angel

          Re: Does this mean...

          All hail the Prince of Insufficient Light!

        2. Chemical Bob

          Re: Does this mean...

          ...all heck will break loose.

          Doesn't sound too bad. Does it tickle?"

          Ask Phil.

      3. Ye Gads

        Re: Does this mean...

        Now that we Canadians are firmly in control of what Google can and can't show as search results I expect to see all pages where hockey is referred to as "Ice Hockey" are removed, as are all pages where field hockey is referred to as "hockey".

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Does this mean...

      > demands from Saudi, Iran

      Ironically bans on Canadian bacon and Canadian Club whisky adverts

      1. CanadaGrandpaChris

        Re: Does this mean...

        True north strong and free and logical too. Googles argument is theory. Canada Supreme Court is factual.

    3. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Does this mean...

      The court has said, if it infringes other laws, they will reconsider the scope, such as freedom of speech.

      However, I don't see freedom of speech being an issue in selling counterfeit products. This is something that the police cross-nationality cooperate on anyway.

      The only "hope" Google has, is that selling counterfeit goods is not illegal somewhere and to get that court to rescind the order. Either way, it doesn't look good for Google.

      If they don't react, they will be accused of censorship, which is here not the case. If they do react, they will be accused of aiding and abetting counterfeiters - which could possibly be argued already, as they take advertising for counterfeit and illegal products (whether with foreknowledge or not).

    4. CanadaGrandpaChris

      Re: Does this mean...

      Yes. Canada has a legit greavence. Google lawyers in North Korea? Con ignor.

  4. Notas Badoff

    Shootout at the OK court

    At some point the transnational companies are just going to have to challenge all the authorities together to find a workable common sense solution.

    My feeling is it would be a wonderful gesture (how many fingers?) for Google to say - okay, now searches for horse products will result in displaying only "Sorry, Canada says no".

    That will give people a starting point for discussion. I could not predict where the discussions would end up, or when.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Shootout at the OK court

      So, you are saying that it is okay for Google to aid and abet criminal activity, because they are a multi-national? Good to know.

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Re: Shootout at the OK court

        You are assuming that the company name and trademarks are registered in all countries around the world.

        In theory, if a company name is not protected by an international trademark, it could be used by another company in a country that does not recognize the mark,

        In this case, Google preventing other trading bodies outside Canada from using the perfectly legitimate in their own country company name would be adversely affecting that other party.

        International trademarks and copyrights are a real minefield when the Internet is Global.

        Does the WTO register trademarks worldwide?

        1. graeme leggett

          Re: Shootout at the OK court

          There's the WIPO for making international registrations. Simplifies applications for trademark protection in 114 countries under the "Madrid System"

          China is a member, so is North Korea

  5. 101
    Terminator

    Be Evil!

    This is what happens when the boss decides Evil is Smart.

  6. Doctor Evil

    "Essentially, the Supreme Court [of Canada] insists it can dictate which stuff the Mountain View [California, USA] internet goliath can and can't link to."

    Ahem -- enforcement may prove to be a wee bit problematic. Overreach, perhaps?

    1. bazza Silver badge

      Enforcement is easy enough. Fine Google. Or if Google takes its corporate presence outside of Canada, pass a law banning Canadian companies from using their advertising services and fine them.

      The ad boycott that started in Europe caused Google to lose cash. That's when they started paying attention. It became immoral to advertise on Google, something advertisers don't like, so they withdrew their accounts.

      Imagine if it also became illegal?

      The world's legal systems haven't really even begun to catch up with the implications of dominant global online services. In the meantime Google especially (and a few others) are making a ton of what could be described as dodgy money. The Europeans are more active at working out whether what they're doing is actually legal and openly competitive, and increasingly they're finding against Google.

      Now Google is a wealthy company and should be able to anticipate some of these rulings. They know they're the dominant player, and consequently it is inevitable that some of their website features will attract attention. Now they have to explain to their shareholders why their American style business strategy was the best one to use globally. It wasn't, it's costing shareholders money, and it looks like it's going to get worse.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ""Essentially, the Supreme Court [of Canada] insists it can dictate which stuff the Mountain View [California, USA] internet goliath can and can't link to.""

      Why not? US courts have tried to take jurisdiction over data stored in Ireland?

  7. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    So in another jurisdiction one of the alleged knock-off products claims its products are legit, gets a judgement to that effect & demands that Google display its results world-wide. What does Canada do then?

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      The question is, what does Google do? Remember that Google provide search to us mere mortals in order to show us adverts, paid for by companies. Most of that ad spending comes from honking great international companies, who also don't like fake products.

      This is an area where because there's no single government, there's unlikely to be any single law. So Goolge will do what it can to make as much money as it can, and accept as little legal oversight as it can get away with. However if it takes the piss too much out of its real customers (the global advertisers who pay it something like $100 billion a year) then it might find the bottom line suffers.

      1. salamamba too

        I ain't Spartacus - " So Goolge will do what it can to make as much money as it can, and accept as little legal oversight as it can get away with."

        Isn't that what they did BEFORE the ruling anyway? So, no change.

      2. CanadaGrandpaChris

        Here's the rub. Us world dominated companies are making the laws to suit themselves or avoiding them wholesale. Canada's ruling is another wake up call for world government. Eventually laws will need to be world wide just as companies are world wide. We live on the same dirt in the vastness of space.

  8. Barry Rueger

    Ahem

    American groups like the MPAA etc have been claiming extra-territorial control for decades. Remember when the Pirate Bay used to laugh with glee at takedown notices from US lawyers?

    With respect to this case, I'd be asking, but can't bother to find out, if there isn't some treaty provision to support this decision.

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Copyright

      If these products infringe copyright in Canada, it's likely they infringe worldwide.

      See Berne Convention and later UN conventions on copyright.

      I agree RIAA/MPAA tactics and the USA Millennium copyright act break international law and are morally wrong.

    2. Elfo74
      Pirate

      Re: Ahem

      Indeed.

      Like google, thepiratebay is a search engine.

      Google provides hyperlinks, thepiratebay provides magnetlinks: both are just pointers to pirated content, not the pirated content itself (which is not hosted on the search engine).

      If thepiratebay must obey "international law" then so does google!

      What? Just because they are rich they should be above the law?

      Fuck google.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Compromise

    If Canada agrees to take Bieber back, well - I think we can work something out.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Devil

      Re: Compromise

      I believe the Canadian army was only showing the qualities of its snipers last week. Sure the world would be grateful if Canada took back Celine Dion and Justin Bieber. But should they not wish to suffer themselves, I'm sure they can work out other accepable solutions...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Devil

        Re: Compromise

        Compromise: Use Celine Dion and Justin Bieber to train more excellent Canadian snipers!!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Damned pushy Canucks!

    Next thing you know, the Great White North will be insisting that Thanksgiving isn't on the fourth Thursday in November, and that every supermarket has a whole aisle devoted to maple syrup!

    1. CanadaGrandpaChris

      Re: Damned pushy Canucks!

      Yes and we salute you with the raised central finger as we sing Stand on guard for thee.lol

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Damned pushy Canucks!

      Actually, in Canada,Thanksgiving is a month earlier than in the US. It's part of our global conspiracy to get the best turkey.

  11. JohnnyS777

    JohnnyS777

    What are you talking about "animal care products"? Equustek does high end electronics:

    "Since 1988 Equustek has been specializing in the manufacture and design of gateways, bridges, and custom protocol conversion communication products that will allow you complete system integration. They allow industrial automation equipment the ability to exchange data over popular industrial networks." Where do you get animal care products from THAT???

    I'm sure that if Boeing found out that some villain had ripped off all their aircraft designs and was selling identical versions of the stolen Boeing aircraft in direct competition with Boeing, Boeing would have NO PROBLEM asking Google to remove the links for the villains' sites, especially if Boeing had already obtained legal injunctions against the villain.

    Or how about if Jaguar found out that some villain had stolen all their designs and research and was selling perfect copies of their latest cars at a lower price because they avoided paying for the development, design and research? Wouldn't removing the search responses from the worlds largest search engine that point to the villain's websites be a just and reasonable move?

    That's all that Equustek has done here: These villains are criminals and they need to be brought to justice. This is just a part of the process.

    1. Steve Knox
      Happy

      Re: JohnnyS777

      Looks like somebody joined just to plug their company's point of view! Welcome, JohnnyS777!

      That Title box above the comment area is for putting a relevant title to your post, not for repeating your handle.

      Your arguments about Boeing and Jaguar are speculative and without merit, but to answer them anyway, I'd expect Boeing or Jaguar to pursue the case in all relevant jurisdictions, not to presume a single nation can dictate global activity with impunity.

      The question at hand is whether a local judge has jurisdiction beyond their nation's sovereign borders. Do you believe that to be the case?

    2. Steve Knox
      Holmes

      Re: JohnnyS777

      Oh yeah, and if you don't want to be associated with animal care products, especially by a site known to take tech companies less than seriously, you may want to rethink your company's name -- it's amazing how many people know just enough Latin...

    3. Carpet Deal 'em
      Trollface

      Re: JohnnyS777

      I'm pretty sure that Google would take down any Boeing rip-off "voluntarily".

    4. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: JohnnyS777

      > What are you talking about "animal care products"? Equustek does high end electronics

      Hmmm, OK. Fixed. We're investigating how this happened.

      Edit: A company name mix up (there's an Equustock that does animal care products. The name was corrected during editing but not the product type, oops. It was quickly fixed.)

      C.

      1. Cederic Silver badge

        Re: JohnnyS777

        Offtopic, but you're again demonstrating why El Reg remains a beacon of journalistic integrity in an online quagmire of incompetence and special interest.

        Everybody makes mistakes, it's how they're handled afterwards..

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: JohnnyS777

          "Everybody makes mistakes, it's how they're handled afterwards.."

          I know - imagine if some TV news network ran a story without a "breaking news, needs clarification"-type of warning, but then withdraws it. Some journos even leave over the incident.

          You'd have to be a real idiot to trump on about the entire organisation being a failure because of one mistake that was quickly corrected

      2. JohnnyS777

        Re: JohnnyS777

        Thanks for following up.

        Just FYI: I am not affiliated with Equustek in any way.

  12. GrapeBunch

    Turnabout is fair play.

    I welcome this ruling, because discussion about it will start discussion about extraterritoriality. USA arrogates its laws in many fields and jurisdictions, including inside Canada. The discussion might not come to anything because they pwn nukes and all your data. But oh well.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Isn't porn illegal in China? Really allowing one country to dictate what is allowed internationally is a very very bad thing.

  14. john2020

    DuckDuckGo?

    I gave up on everything google some time ago.

    Like I gave up on microsoft in 2007 when ubuntu was demonstrated to me.

    It's OK to move on guys.

  15. thondwe

    How to find and stop counterfeit goods

    Presume the authorities use Google?????

  16. Duncan Macdonald
    Mushroom

    No results for Equustek

    What will happen to Equustek if Google complies with this order by not returning ANY results for a query that includes the word EQUUSTEK ?

    This will probably kill Equustek as they would lose so much business.

    1. Jason Bloomberg

      Re: No results for Equustek

      I think Google would soon find it doesn't pay to play hardball. If they piss off too many companies and their respective governments they may find they are facing fines or even having access to their services blocked and that will only hurt themselves.

      We are at a time where global corporations are having to figure out how they handle disparate jurisdictions and their laws. "We'll do as we please" risks being cut off from markets they need, and "bow to everyone on everything" is a race to the bottom.

      As a global community we are going to have to figure out how things should be, what a right and reasonable compromise will be.

    2. DavCrav

      Re: No results for Equustek

      "What will happen to Equustek if Google complies with this order by not returning ANY results for a query that includes the word EQUUSTEK ?"

      Back in court I guess? The thing is that when you are a monopoly you don't get to do things like that.

      1. earl grey
        Mushroom

        Re: No results for Equustek

        Google could easily return zero results on a search for "bleep" and claim they have no way to differentiate between legit and illegit references.

        Nice little business you had there; too bad nobody can find it any more. Let them use BING!

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Hockey Stick effect redux

    Economics 101.

    The Canadian Supreme Court and Google have now redefined the Hockey Stick effect so beloved of Sales, Marketing, Private Equity and Venture Capitalists globally. Bad Google, Bad.

  18. ecofeco Silver badge
    Alert

    Little known fun fact

    Product counterfeiting utterly DWARFS the illegal drug trade and has lesser penalties.

    Is it any wonder it's so attractive?

    And now a question I have yet to see satisfactorily answered: in this now world wide digital age, how does one effectively stop IP theft?

    A serious question as I also have IP I'd like to not have stolen.

  19. CanadaGrandpaChris

    Canadian World Wide Web

    Hi I'm Canadian. Can't we just get along and be nice. Why do we need local laws for these www companies anyway? Can't we just have one government on this piece of dirt we all live on? Hell we are blowing holes in it, putting plastic all over it, thinning out the ionosphere, burning the air, killing the fish, frogs and bees ... it all logic gone?

    If www courts could be organized so www companies could make money nicely it would be good. Right?

  20. NanoMeter

    Censorship on Google

    Let all countries ask Google to censor this and that in every other country including their own and there will be nothing left to find on Google.

  21. hellwig

    Do people know what a Search Engine does?

    Google's search engine does one thing, show you what's on the internet (interspersed with Google's ads). If you don't like something you see on the internet, you have to go after whomever posted that information. I don't like that Google is being forced to be the arbiter of the internet (will Bing show me these results? probably), and then other jurisdictions like the EU then PUNISH Google for being the de-facto arbiter of the internet.

    Google didn't put this crap on the internet. Imagine suing Google because their streetview shows your neighbors crappy yard and you think it's bringing down property values. Google isn't at fault, it's your neighbor, but for some reason, it's easier to sue Google these days than deal with the problem.

    I'm surprised the Trump administration hasn't sued Google to remove search result pertaining to global climate change.

  22. GX5000

    Sorry

    Not Sorry - Just mad the regressive left is still trying to ruin things for everyone.

  23. Irving Lypshytz
    FAIL

    Embarrassed by the SCOC's lack of technical understanding ...

    ---------------- 8< ---------------------

    Wednesday’s ruling involved Equustek Solutions Inc., a Vancouver-based manufacturer of networking devices that allow complex industrial equipment made by one manufacturer to communicate with the equipment of another, a kind of inter-linking technology.

    In 2011 it got into a messy dispute when its distributor, Datalink Technologies Gateways Inc., headed by Morgan Jack, began to re-label one of the products and passed it off as its own. Equustek claims Datalink then acquired some of its confidential technology and began to manufacture copycat products. Sued by Equustek, Datalink first denied the accusations, then fled the province, and continued to carry on business, selling products all over the world from an unknown location.

    The allegations have not been proven in court , but several court orders were issued against Datalink to stop selling Equustek inventory until the allegations could be tested.

    ------------- 8< ---------------

    Sure, DataLink are bad guys but it is outrageous that while " ...The allegations have not been proven in court ... " the Supreme Court of Canada rules on this case in the first place.

    Further, as a Canadian, I am embarrassed that the SCOC has so little technical acumen that they think this ruling is in any way enforceable.

    1. JohnnyS777

      Re: Embarrassed by the SCOC's lack of technical understanding ...

      As another Canadian, I'm also a bit embarrassed about this but I think there's a couple of points you missed that change the complexion of this issue.

      First, the SCOC is not supposed to consider the widespread results of their decisions: They are not lawmakers and not allowed to make laws they like. What they CAN do is make decisions that become law because they are precedents and those become common law. But the decisions are supposed to be made on the very specific facts around a specific case and nothing else.

      In this specific case, they only looked at the egregious behaviour of the "bad guys" and the existence of the court orders. The fact this ruling opens up a big can of worms on the world stage is something they should not have considered, and indeed they did not make that mistake.

      As for the "technical acumen" the SCOC displayed, I think you're incorrect and the SCOC was pretty smart. All they ruled was that Google must remove any of the villains' links from search results. There's no requirement to pull down the websites or anything that is outside of Google's purview. This is *technically* very easy for Google to do, and they already do this for other issues (such as terrorism websites, etc.) So, *technically* what they ruled is easily enforceable.

      As for the *legal* enforceability of this ruling outside of Canada, that is a whole different story. But it's pretty clear this has been a long time coming: Applying regional or national laws to the Internet was always going to be mostly unworkable. However, the following are increasing rapidly: Legal and regulatory problems on the Internet involving e-commerce, privacy problems, cybercrime and cyberwarfare. The need to deal with these problems is also increasing and IMHO it's going to get a lot worse before it gets better. There are no easy solutions.

  24. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Hold on, so they're saying that if I search for "knock-off CDs", then a search engine, a SEARCH engine, should not give results that match what I SEARCHED for?

  25. arkhangelsk

    This is a criminally stupid decision

    The judges' decision is parochial and willfully fails to foresee the probable consequences of their reckless acts. Now that a Western court has decided that they can rule on search results on a global website, how long would it before the likes of China and Russia's Supreme Courts issuing rulings for choice pieces of information to be removed because they are "subversive", "extremist" or otherwise. Don't they realize that China is still citing Schenck v United States (1919) when defending their infamous "Incitement of subversion of State power?"

    They didn't even do a balancing exercise, so in essence the only criteria required are someone being supposedly hurt and Google can do it. This ought be easy... And it is the Supreme Court so no one can get it out of the system. A stupid, no-name company simply is not worth it.

  26. Ptol

    Company moral hazard....

    The ruling is straight forward. Company 'A' that has operations in Canada is told that they must not facilitate activity that is illegal and also detrimental to another Canadian company.

    Why should Company 'A' be allowed to continue profiting from this illegal criminal activity anywhere in the world?

    Company 'A' should take a long look at itself and make its decision on whether it accepts that the court in Canada is right, it shouldn't facilitate this illegal behaviour, and comply with the court ruling, or if it decides that it will not comply with the rule of law in Canada, to withdraw its operations from this unreasonable legal jurisdiction.

    1. arkhangelsk

      Re: Company moral hazard....

      >The ruling is straight forward. Company 'A' that has operations in Canada is told that they must not facilitate activity that is illegal and also detrimental to another Canadian company.

      Actually, it isn't on two levels. For one thing, Google's action in itself is not illegal, nor are they specially doing something to this tiny company. They are doing their regular legal business of providing search services to any interested parties, and it is already questionable legally as it is to impose penalties for neutral actions that do not break the law, unless he actively desires the facilitation of the illegal and unworthy outcome.

      Further, Googe's actions, broadly speaking, involve expression, which is beyond "neutral" and actually a right protected by constitution and treaty after many painful historical experiences as to the real consequences when it is compromised. The court willfully faked blindness so it did not have to weigh that. In doing so, it condones further abuses. I cannot believe the judges were so stupid as to be unaware of the danger, especially since it was pointed out to them.

      And I just love that moronic court judgment. If you have been up on international news, you might notice China just "released" the nearly dead Liu Xiaobo in the name of medical treatment. I can easily see how that crummy judgment can be borrowed by a Chinese court in the future to convict yet more people for "subversion of the State". After all, to pick just one, Liu Xiaobo would not be "inconvenienced in any *material* (because the world is only material, implies the Canadian judge) way" and would not "incur any significant expense" in choosing to not publish his critical articles and Charter 08. Thus, in the face of it causing a certain amount of "irreparable" harm to the Chinese State, Liu Xiaobo's actions cannot be defended as free speech and he thus is correctly guilty of "subversion of the State".

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