Alberta premier threatens to sue local bloggerWednesday, January 9, 2008 at 4:53 | Posted in Bloggers' rights, Blogosphere, Canada, Freedom of speech, internet, Legal | 1 Comment
Tags: alberta, Dave Cournoyer, ed stelmach
Dave Cournoyer is a 24 year old student in University of Alberta. He is also a political blogger affiliated to Alberta Liberals. Dave’s blog Daveberta.ca has a tagline: “alberta politics and other assorted goodies”.
In April 2007, four months after Progressive Conservative leader Edward Stelmach became the premier of Alberta, Dave bought the domain edstelmach.ca which was unregistered at the time. Dave paid 14 Canadian dollars for the registration after which the domain became his property. The CA domain name selection guidelines do not limit the amount of domains registered by one person and limitations on selecting the domain name only apply for registered trademarks.
Dave writes about his usage of the domain:
For the majority of the time I have owned edstelmach.ca, I have had the domain name forward to this blog. A week before I received the letter from Premier Stelmach’s lawyer, I changed the forwarding to the wikipedia biography of another Alberta Premier (who also probably would have not thought to register his domain name).
The other premier was Harry Strom who served as premier between 1968 and 197. He was the last Alberta premier from the Social Credit Party of Alberta.
Rather than making a phone call or sending an e-mail to Dave, premier Stelmach had a high rated law firm, Walsh Wilkins Creighton LLP, send him a letter and threaten him with a lawsuite unless he would
(a) make arrangements with your service provider by December 21, 2007, to
ensure that the Website no longer forwards to the 810g; and
(b) make arrangements to with your service provider and/or registrar to have
the Website registered in our client’s name.
The letter, signed by Tyler S Shandro, suggests that Dave has registered the domain “in bad faith”. Dave is also accused for causing premier Stelmach’s image to suffer and having interfered with his personality, image and name.
What really seems to have made the good premier’s lawyers go bananas are the modest Google ads at Dave’s blog:
Fourth, the 810g is signed up for an advertising program called “Ads by Google”, from
which you receive an income through Google.com’s AdSense program, in which
advertisements are matched to your site’s content, and you earn money. You have
therefore knowingly made a commercial use of our client’s name without his consent.
This constitutes an invasion and impairment of our client’s exclusive right to market his
personality. In which case, our client is entitled to the amount he would reasonably have
received in the market for the permission to use his name.
In an interview for the CBC Dave tells that the Google ads generate about 20 Canadian dollars a month in revenue.
Dave is not going to give up easily:
Though I am still surprised that the +150 staffed Public Affairs Bureau failed to complete the simple task of registering a $14.00 domain name, I am even more surprised that Premier Ed Stelmach’s first reaction in this situation was to threaten to sue an 24-year old blogger and debt ridden University of Alberta student. As a born and bred Albertan, I do not take well to threats from politicians. Therefore I will be seeking advice from legal counsel on how to proceed with this threat.
I am not going to state an opinion about the legal merits of premier Ed Stelmach’s case. My advise to the premier is that he should urgently start thinking about damage control instead of insisting to litigate. Messing with bloggers has seldom payed out. Mr Stelmach has already shot his own foot for far more than 14 dollars and it can only get worse unless he backs off.