Canadian Site Owners Legal Requirement

I came across this excerpt the other day which states that site owners from Canadian French provinces must provide their content in French.  Here is the article:

Businesses operating in Quebec who maintain Web sites may need to ensure that the contents of their Web sites comply with Quebec’s language laws. Article 52 of the Charter of the French Language requires that catalogues, brochures, leaflets, commercial directories and all other publications of that nature be in the French language. A translation may be provided as long as French is given equal prominence. The Office de la langue francaise (OLF) has taken the position that this definition is broad enough to include content placed on Web sites, sent by fax or electronic mail.

Micro-Bytes, a computer retailer located in Pointe Claire (Quebec), received a warning letter from the OLF in late May, advising that the company’s Web site violated Quebec’s language law. In response, Micro-Bytes removed most of the content from its site until it was able to prepare French language translations.

According to a notice issued by the OLF on June 21, 1997, all companies which have a place of business or an address in Quebec are required to provide Quebec consumers with a French language version of any commercial publication. A company which does not have a base of operation in Quebec (i.e., no place of business nor an address in Quebec) will not be compelled under Quebec laws to use French on its Web site. Any entity with substantial links to Quebec should also consider whether they must comply.

Exemptions may apply to non-commercial messages such as those of a religious, political, ideological or humanitarian nature which may be published in a language other than French. Cultural or educational products may also be advertised exclusively in the language used in the product without a French version.

I wonder how many people know they may be breaking the law by not translating a site?

This is something I was aware of in the UK, where all government website have to be in Welsh as well as English, but not commercial ones.

Are there language laws like this where you live?  I would love to hear more in the comments.

Photo Credit: Ian Muttoo via Compfightcc

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