Canadian courts can now force search engines like Google to remove illegal sites from search results both in Canada and worldwide.
The landmark ruling, handed down by the Supreme Court of Canada today, found that any court in the country can grant an injunction to remove illegal sites from anywhere in the world when it is necessary.
The case was brought from claims by Canadian technology firm Equustek Solutions Inc, which has requested Google remove search results showing a site that was illegally sell goods violating Equustek’s trade secrets.
After Equustek won the case in the lower courts, Google appealed the case to the Supreme Court, arguing that the global reach of the order was unnecessary.
The case was supported by industry organisations like IFPI, Music Canada, WIN, ICMP, and CISAC.
Frances Moore, IFPI CEO, said the ruling to remove links to the illegal sites both in Canada and worldwide is good news for rights holders.
“Whilst this was not a music piracy case, search engines play a prominent role in directing users to illegal content online including illegal music sites,” said Moore.
“If the digital economy is to grow to its full potential, online intermediaries, including search engines, must play their part by ensuring that their services are not used to facilitate the infringement of intellectual property rights.”
Lawyer Barry Sookman said the ruling will have “enormous implications around the world.”
The ruling is expected to influence common law jurisdictions in Europe, Singapore, New Zealand and Australia.
In Australia, major entertainment industry rights holders have banded together to oppose part of the Copyright Amendment (Disability Access and Other Measures) Bill which expands safe harbour provision.
Essentially, an expansion of the provision would wreak havoc on artists’ intellectual property. Organisations like ARIA and Music Rights Australia have requested the Turnbull government remove a proposed measure that would give immunity to Google and Facebook for infringing user-uploaded content.