Unlawful Reading

Of all the responses to the Harry Potter injunction, I think the most disappointing came from the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association.  It surprisingly characterized the injunction as a “very, very small issue” and suggested that “civil libertarians were not tied up in knots about it.” It should be noted that Raincoast Books used these comments to support its claim that the injunction was justified and not particularly problematic.

I thought about the BCCLA response this morning as I opened the Globe and Mail.  The Globe had intended to post a Harry Potter book review on its website at midnight and then run the review its regular Saturday paper.  On Friday, the newspaper was served with legal papers from Raincoast Books advising them that the posting of the review would constitute a violation of the court order.  Why?  Because, the publisher claimed, the Globe had obtained a copy of the book in violation of the court order and the review was therefore the product of an “unlawful reading.”  I don’t know what an unlawful reading is, but I do know that it is hardly a very, very small issue. 


  1. mark Hamilton says:


    Thanks for keeping on top of this issue. Given the sweeping nature of the ex-parte injunction and the actions of Raincoast against the Globe & Mail, I’m puzzled why the whole issue has been largely ignored by mainstream media and why our local civil liberties association thinks it is virtually meaningless.


  2. One reason the issue has not been address is that noone has adequately characterized and criticized the argument behind the injunction.

    While many (including Michael Geist on this blog) have pillored the injunction itself, the legal reasons for it remain murky.

    The party requesting the injunction (1) presumably had an argument. The judge (2) presumably agreed with it. Some (3) presumably disagree with the judge’s reasoning. But none of 1, 2, or 3 have been revealed to very many of us.

    Hence the ignoring.

  3. I believe the Globe ran an editorial on the issue in Friday’s edition, if memory serves me. More than anything, I’ve been surprised that the issue hasn’t sparked even a tad more discussion. One might even say it’s frightening how little people understand about copyright as our society moves toward based on much more IP development. Just last week I was asked by a very intelligent programmer friend whether running a proprietary program under open-source Linux would suddenly make the proprietary software subject to the GPL. Real decisions are being made on these faulty understanding of basic principles.

  4. U.S Citizen
    I do hope other Canadaians take exception to this type of disturbing corporate bullying. It saddens me to see our northern neighbors also losing thier basic rights to the onslaught of the corporate raiders/invaders.

    Our national ideals were bought as such a high price, it’s a shame to see them sold at garage sale prices by those we have chosen to represent us.

  5. Stephen Samuel says:

    I can write a ‘cease and desist’ order claiming just about anything. Doesn’t mean that the claims have much more than the most tenuous hold on reality.

    It’s too bad that the Globe and Mail didn’t just publish the review and dare Raincoast to do the dirtiest. I doube tha they’d win. Among other things, I doubt that the injunction is even valid, given that the book purchases were (as far as I know) done innocently.
    About the only reason that I can see this as a ‘minor issue’ is that the injunction didn’t live long enough to be worth challenging, and it’s about a freaking fiction book.

    Given that Raincoast is now claiming that the injunction seems to make the review in question permanently illegal, there might be room, now, to file for a voiding of the injunction. hopefully somebody at The Globe and Mail agrees with thet sentiment.