Post Tagged with: "E-commerce"

Music Publisher’s Takedown Strikes The Wrong Chord

My weekly law and technology column (Toronto Star version, Tyee version, homepage version, BBC version) focuses on the recent battle over the IMSLP. In February 2006, a part-time Canadian music student established a modest, non-commercial website that used collaborative wiki tools, such as those used by Wikipedia, to create an online library of public domain musical scores.  Within a matter of months, the International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP) featured over 1,000 musical scores for which the copyright had expired in Canada.  Nineteen months later – without any funding, sponsorship or promotion – the site had become the largest public domain music score library on the Internet, generating a million hits per day, featuring over 15,000 scores by over 1,000 composers, and adding 2,000 new scores each month.

Eleven days ago, the IMSLP disappeared from the Internet.  Universal Edition, an Austrian music publisher, retained a Toronto law firm to demand that the site block European users from accessing certain works and from adding new scores for which the copyright had not expired in Europe.  The company noted that while the music scores entered the public domain in Canada fifty years after a composer’s death, Europe's copyright term is twenty years longer.

The legal demand led to many sleepless nights as the student struggled with the prospect of liability for activity that is perfectly lawful in Canada. 

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October 30, 2007 10 comments Columns

Dell Case Sets Standard for Online Contracts

My weekly Law Bytes column (Toronto Star version, The Tyee version, homepage version) examines the recent Supreme Court of Canada decision involving Dell Computer, online contracting, and mandatory arbitration clauses.  Late on a Friday afternoon in April 2003, Dell Computer's Canadian website featured a pair of erroneous prices for the Axim, the company's handheld computer.  Rather than listing the two versions of the device correctly at $379 and $549, the site indicated that the price was $89 and $118.  Dell blocked access to the pages the following day, however, the mistakes remained accessible throughout the weekend via a direct hyperlink.

Dell typically sold about three Axims each weekend, yet on this particular April weekend, 354 Quebec-based consumers placed 509 orders. Olivier Dumoulin was among those consumers and when Dell refused to honour the mistaken price, he joined forces with a Quebec-based consumer group to launch a class action lawsuit against the company.  Dell tried to block the suit, arguing that its consumer contract provided that all disputes were to be resolved by arbitration.

The Dell case wound its way through the Canadian court system, concluding with a Supreme Court of Canada decision last month.  Quebec trial and appellate courts both sided with Dumoulin, ruling that the arbitration clause was not enforceable and that the consumer class action could proceed.  The Supreme Court overturned those decisions, concluding that the arbitration clause was enforceable and that the use of a hyperlink was sufficient.  Dell unsurprisingly welcomed the decision, maintaining that the ability to use arbitration "will lead to the fair and efficient resolution of cases for consumers and business alike."  Consumer groups were furious, stating that the decision marked "a dark day for online shoppers in Canada.”

Yet a closer examination of the decision and the current state of e-commerce in Canada suggests that neither side is right. 

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July 30, 2007 8 comments Columns

NY Times on Canadian E-commerce Growth

The NY Times reports that Canada is emerging a favoured location for U.S. companies looking to improve online sales.

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July 29, 2007 Comments are Disabled Must Reads

Canadian E-Commerce Market Hits $50 Billion

Statistics Canada has released its annual review of e-commerce sales in Canada. It reports that sales surged by 40 percent last year, hitting the $50 billion mark. The review provides a reminder about the importance of B2B sales and considers whether Canadian firms are becoming more innovative in their approaches […]

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April 20, 2007 Comments are Disabled Must Reads

Statscan E-commerce Release Points to Digital Divide

Statistics Canada is out today with a new report on Canadian e-commerce trends.  The data confirms that e-commerce is growing with travel, books, clothing, software, and music leading the way.  It also points to substantial "window shopping" and notable differences in demographic purchasing habits (younger age groups buy music, older […]

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November 1, 2006 Comments are Disabled News