[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Canada [official website] upheld an order [judgment, PDF] on Wednesday that directed Google [corporate website] to block a company's website from is global search results. The ruling stems from a suit [Reuters report] brought by a small technology company, Equustek Solutions Inc, who asserted that Datalink Technologies Gateways [corporate websites] had committed copyright infringement by relabeling and selling one of Equustek's products as their own. Equustek requested that Google remove search results for Datalink until the pending case was resolved. Google removed the search results, including some 300 pages associated with Datalink, but only from the Canadian version of their search engine. The Court of Appeal for British Columbia [official website] ordered [judgment] Google to desist from displaying search results that link back to Datalink in any country. Several advocacy groups, including Human Rights Watch [advocacy website], intervened in the case in the interest of preventing a justification for censorship and limiting the freedom of expression. The court responded to this argument by stating:
This is not an order to remove speech that, on its face, engages freedom of expression values, it is an order to de-index websites that are in violation of several court orders. We have not, to date, accepted that freedom of expression requires the facilitation of the unlawful sale of goods.Although Google cannot appeal the ruling, the Supreme Court did not prohibit the company from applying to the British Columbia courts to "vary the interlocutory order accordingly."
The ruling from the Canadian Supreme Court is the first of its kind. Various countries have struggled in recent years with balancing the freedom of expression on the Internet and copyright infringement. The Federal Court of Australia [official website] last April ordered [JURIST report] six Internet service providers (ISPs) to hand over information about alleged illegal downloaders of the US film Dallas Buyer's Club. In April 2014 the Senate of Brazil passed a bill [JURIST report] that eliminates ISPs' liability for content published by their users and requires providers to remove offensive materials following court orders. That March Viacom and Google settled [JURIST report] a copyright infringement lawsuit that Viacom had filed against Google's YouTube website for allowing clips of Viacom's television programs to be posted without authorization. In June 2013 Russia passed an anti-piracy bill [JURIST report] that allows websites to be blocked by ISPs upon copyright infringement claims. In 2012 the Spanish government approved a law [JURIST report] that created a government agency with the authority to force ISPs to block certain websites that are involved in pirating copyright materials.