When the Law needs to keep up with Technology

This week saw the perfect example of how outdated computer law can lead to court decisions that go against our understanding of what is right and what is wrong.

Most of us know that hacking into an encrypted wi-fi connection is wrong. People encrypt their wi-fi connections for much the same reasons that they would lock their front doors – to protect them from uninvited access. Trying to hack into a protected wi-fi connection could be seen as analogous as trying to break into someone’s house. Here in North America, hacking into an encrypted wi-fi connection is illegal and in some jurisdictions, even piggy-backing on an open wi-fi connection could land you on the wrong side of the law. However, a Dutch court ruled that hacking into an encrypted wifi connection is not illegal.

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To Incorporate or not to Incorporate

One of the foremost questions from most new business owners is “Should I incorporate the company?” Like most answers to legal questions, I’d say “It depends.”

Not incorporating does have some advantages. The most obvious is the simplicity of such an approach (and therefore the savings in legal and administrative costs). Not incorporating might also make sense from a tax-savings perspective. If your business is in its early stages and incurring losses, these losses can be  used to reduce your net income and therefore the overall tax you owe. Of course, with the advantages of not incorporating comes the risk of having your personal assets exposed to your company’s debts and lawsuit claims.

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Valuing you Start-Up Company

When seeking investors, how do you put a value to your start-up company? In honour of the new episode of Dragon’s Den last night, Chad Tennant over at the Penny Wise Loonie Foolish blog has posted a quick and dirty on how business valuations are made and what the dragons, (and other investors) are looking for.

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Equity as Incentive – Part I – Share Grants

Your company is only as good as your key employees. Hiring good talent and keeping this talent motivated is essential for the success of your company. While the ideal employee would have an intrinsic desire to perform her best without an external incentive, an equity stake in your company would align your company’s interests with the financial interests of your key resource motivating her to work harder for the success of your company.

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Canada poised to be cloud-leader

When choosing a cloud-service provider, one of the concerns is privacy of the data stored. Depending on where the servers are located, privacy laws in that jurisdiction may not provide you with the level of security or privacy that you expect for your information.

Thanks to privacy legislation like PIPEDA, Canada could emerge as the leading jurisdiction for cloud-computing. Michael Geist elaborates further here and gives us some more reasons that make Canada a good choice for cloud-computing companies.

 

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Tata Cup – Sustainability Case Competition

This afternoon I attended a reception at the Ted Rogers School of Management celebrating this year’s winner of the Tata Cup Sustainability Case Competition held in Montreal.

The contestants comprised four-person teams from ten Canadian business schools and five US business schools. The teams were given a case revolving around sustainability and were asked to present on the case after just three hours of preparation and no access to outside information. This year’s case was based on the Australian company BHP Billiton’s  take-over bid of PotashCorp. that was blocked by the Canadian government earlier in November. The teams were asked to make a case for BHP Billiton keeping in mind corporate social responsibility and sustainability concerns. The Ryerson team made the best case, taking home first prize and demonstrating not only a superb knowledge of the current state of the energy industry, but also an understanding of how it relates to sustainability in today’s environment.

I have had the honour of judging previous Tata Cup competitions, but didn’t this year. I seem to have missed a really good competition. Congratulations to the Ryerson team!

 

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Before you hyperlink that…

On December 7th, 2010, the Supreme Court of Canada heard Crookes v. Newton, a case dealing with hyperlinks. Simply put, the issue in question is  whether you can be charged with libel for hyperlinking to a webpage containing a defamatory article authored by someone else. Given how important hyperlinks are to the world wide web, the outcome of this case will be significant in determining how we produce web content. As Justice Charron put it, a decision favourable to the appellants would amount to “sentencing the hyperlink to death.”

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WWW is here to stay

The World Wide Web turned 20 this year, and Spark on CBC radio has a segment tracing the past 20 years. It’s amazing how far the WWW has come – from being text-only to exploding with audio and video and supporting most of our business functions. It’s hard to imagine the world without the world wide web.

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Does my website need a privacy policy?

If you own a business or run a company, it is very likely that you have a website that serves as its online presence – either for marketing or to sell your services or products.  The one question I am asked regularly is “Does my website really need a privacy policy? No one reads those things anyway.” While every website does not need a privacy policy, every one of my clients has needed a privacy policy or statement of some kind. Whether or not your website should have a privacy policy largely depends on whether or not you collect personal information from its users, either explicitly or implicitly.

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Welcome!

Welcome to the official blog of Sapna Law, a Toronto law firm providing counsel in business and technology law to companies in all stages of their life-cycle. This blog, as its name suggests, will cover topics related to business, technology and the law and will occasionally detour to other topics that catch my fancy.

If there is anything in particular you would like me to blog about, please contact me and let me know.

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