The Montreal Gazette
Thursday, July 31, 1997

Net user to take on OLF in court

by Katherine Wilton

The Office de la Langue Française might be done with Micro-Bytes Logiciels, but the West Island-based computer-store chain is far from through with the province's language watchdog.

"I'm not finished with them", Micro-Bytes owner Morty Grauer said yesterday.

Grauer is prepared to push the debate over jurisdiction of the Internet that the OLF sparked in May by claiming that Micro-Bytes's homepage on the World Wide Web violated the French Language Charter.

The issue became public when The Gazette reported in June that Quebec's language watchdog had begun prowling cyberspace for Bill 101 offenders -- with Micro-Bytes as their first suspect.

Although the OLF now considers the case closed and doesn't intend to take any further action against the string of computer stores, which have their headquarters in Pointe Claire, Grauer is planning to keep the fight alive.

"My ultimate goal is to go to court to prove once and for all that they don't have any jurisdiction over the Net", he said in an interview.

Grauer has his strategy all worked out for when he returns to work from vacation in mid-August.

"I'm going to put one item on our homepage in five or six languages other than French and English. Then, to make sure they get it, I will file a complaint against myself with the OLF", he said.

Through that tactic, Grauer said he hopes to "show that this is not a language issue."

Net surfers from around the globe flooded OLF officials with E-mail denouncing the government's attempt to infringe on the information highway.

The OLF claims that, based on Bill 101's Article 52 -- which states that catalogues, brochures, leaflets, commercial directories and all other publications of that nature must be in French -- Quebec businesses using the Net must have the province's official language on their homepages.

Spokesmen for the OLF were unavailable for comment yesterday.


Copyright © 1997 by The Montreal Gazette. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.