CRTC New Media Hearing: The Three Battleground Issues [Updated]

Friday was the deadline for written submissions to the CRTC's New Media hearing and the Commission has already posted filings from nearly 100 individuals and organizations [now nearly 150 submissions].  While there are some noteworthy side copyright issues (the CMPDA – the Canadian arm of the MPAA – is concerned that dropping the new media exception would bring back iCraveTV and the legality of Internet retransmission, while CRIA implausibly argues without any evidence that "one of the factors that has significantly restricted legitimate Canadian broadcasting content being delivered and accessed over the Internet is the proliferation of unauthorized file swapping and downloading"), the real fight in the February hearings will come down to three issues:

1.   The ISP Levy.  Several creator groups unsurprisingly argue for a new levy on ISP subscribers to fund the creation of Canadian new media.  ACTRA assumes the lead role in this regard, seeking 3 percent of ISP broadband revenues and 0.6 percent of wireless service provider revenues.  The proposed levy is opposed by many groups including telecommunications companies and the Competition Bureau.  The telecom companies include a paper written by MIT's David Clark and William Lehr and Rogers offers a rebuttal from Suzanne Blackwell and a legal opinion from Faskens. [update: Shaw has submitted two legal opinions – one from former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Frank Iacobucci, now with Torys, on the legality of the levy and another from Stikemans on the right to regulate new media].

2.   The New Media Regulatory Exemption.  Many submissions call on the CRTC to continue the regulatory exemption for new media, including the wireless industry, Google, telecom industry, the NHL, and the broadcasters.  On the other hand, ACTRA and SOCAN lead the charge for a new, highly regulated Internet.  SOCAN's vision is astonishing, calling for at least 51 percent Canadian content requirements for Canadian commercial websites.  ACTRA calls for full Cancon rules for new media and wants the CRTC to licence new media undertakings, arguing that "the Commission should also require that those who are making programs available from Canada, through the Internet or to mobile receiving devices, for viewing at a time and place chosen by the user be licensed."  Note that ACTRA also believes that user generated content should regulated under the Broadcasting Act. [update: The CBC has called for the CRTC to regulate new media content aggregators, while Sirius satellite radio wants Internet radio delivered to mobile devices to face new regulation.]

3.   Net Neutrality.  The link between new media and net neutrality has clearly resonated with a large number of groups.  While the telecommunications companies do not touch the issue, many groups express concern about a non-neutral Internet.  These include ACTRA, CIRPA, the Canadian Music Publishers Association, the Canadian Conference of the Arts (which argues that the New Media hearings should be delayed to coincide with the net neutrality hearing), Stornaway Communications, and Pelmorex Media.[update: the list of net neutrality supporters continues to expand with the Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment , Score Media, and the Documentary Organisation of Canada all on board].


  1. It’s all about censorship and ripping off Canadians
    Priceless comment from “Tavakoli , Aaron” on the CRTC page above:

    — quote —

    Censorship/control/regulation of content on the internet in Canada would ultimately isolate and create a false barrier around Canadians internet experience. The internet was designed to be a global experience, independant and protected from content regulation and governmental influence.

    More importantly, unlike TV, internet Bandwidth is NOT the property of the government, to sell and divide up amongst broadcasters, internet bandwidth is the property of the people who access it. While it costs $millions to setup and establish a TV channel, it costs next to nothing to establish content on the internet, therefore, there is no need to regulate content providers, as everyone has equal billing to publish and represent their own ideas/language/culture.

    The CRTC has absolutely no right or duristriction to interfere with the internet or internet access for Canadians, infact you already overstep your boundaries with the ridiculous regulations you impose to censor and block TV broadcasting, creating false economies for companies in Canada to overcharge and ripoff canadians, under the pretense of ensuring Canadian content, which is pathetic, and recieves no audience.

    — / quote —

  2. Unbelievable
    The bit about the SOCAN 51% proposal blew my mind at the utter idiocy of such an idea. Then my dome was completely blown away by the ACTRA proposal.

    “Note that ACTRA also believes that user generated content should regulated under the Broadcasting Act.”

    So, correct me if I am wrong. Jimmy EmoFace from Hamilton posts a dramatic reading of his angst ridden poem to Julie Hairflip to youtube and ACTRA wants him to have a license to do so?!?!?!?


  3. There should be an award given for this idea!
    One of the worst ideas on the face of the planet in the last decade deserves an award…

    When an idea this bad is presented I have to think it is the oldest political trick in the book: come out with a horrendously bad idea to lessen the blow of a slightly less less obscene idea which is the actual one they want to inflict on us.

  4. D Northeast says:

    These organizations are likely losing influence due to the Internet. These proposals are a way to keep relevance, and ride the hog, so to speak. The Internet is an active medium and Canadians can interact and participate as they see fit, so no CanCon rules are required. Licencing for internet content is just bureaucratic and elitist nonsense.

    These organizations, and the Canadian government for that matter, tries such measures at their peril.

  5. The porn industry will love this tax
    So how much will the porn industry be making from this new tax? And do they really expect people to be happy paying a tax that goes to making new porn.

    I am assuming that a lot of the copyright infringement that is done on the internet is copying porn images and movies. Anyone doubt that?

  6. Canadian government hates telecommunication
    And their recent actions have shown it.

  7. Sometimes Geek says:

    Another proposal
    While I’m not Canadian (hiding out in the lower 48), it would seem to me that the next proposal, given that the above were considered reasonable, would be that all content DELIVERED to Canadians over the internet must have 51% Canadian content . . . allowing the CRTC to levy fines against the rest of the world for providing “illegal” content.

  8. Sheesh!
    It is clear from the comments thus far that Professor Geist’s summary of the CRTC New Media Hearing has not much illuminated for commenters what the hearing is about.

    Those with an actual interest in this matter are better off reading the actual CRTC notice.

    (However: “Priceless”, the CRTC has no intention of “interfering with the Internet”; Chris, you’ve asked to be told so, yes, you are indeed wrong; D Northeast, this hearing has almost nothing to do with licencing, and none but sensationalist accounts — like the one above, unfortunately — argue that; and, Richard G, the porn industry is no more likely to get a penny from any new media production fund coming out of any proposed levy, as are from the Canadian Television Fund and Telefilm Canada. Which, indeed, do not give them a cent.)

  9. On the other hand, ACTRA has benefitted from the support and protection of the CRTC for many years at the expense of Canadians. I think an ISP industry group should petition the CRTC that it is time that ACTRA repay some of the benefit it has received over the years. To help ISPs provide broadband ISP service to remote parts of Canada, all ACTRA members should be subject to a 10% tax which is used to build out rural broadband.

    This would be a win both for rural Canadians, and for ACTRA by way of providing bigger audiences for their work.

  10. Negotiating position
    The proposal for 51% Canadian content sounds to me very much like a move in a game. It’s not something they expect to get, but they put it out there to negotiate. That’s a fine tactic when you’re trading off interests between a bunch of big organizations, but it’s a terrible one when you’re conducting a battle for hearts and minds in public.

    This suggests to me that they don’t get it. These issues are of intimate interest to the public – because we *are* the Internet. It – we! – are not an exclusive pie to be haggled over and divided behind back-room doors. With this kind of tone-deaf behavior they may not simply have to trade away part of their position. By vacating principle over Canadian content regulation, I can imagine they might end up losing even the token public support they have today, and see it abolished altogether.

  11. Licensing…
    To quote Chris from above:

    “Jimmy EmoFace from Hamilton posts a dramatic reading of his angst ridden poem to Julie Hairflip to youtube and ACTRA wants him to have a license to do so?!?!?”

    Like all laws, this one will be selectively enforced. Jimmy EmoFace is fine, he’s free to do as he pleases.

    However once people start to pay Jimmy EmoFace for his poems, ACTRA will be there to inform him that he needs a license to “broadcast”. Of course the license will be a significant portion of Jimmy’s sales. Then of course just imagine who’s going to petition, and ultimately win the right, to manage the licensing bureau?


  12. Sound of migration…
    Suddenly for some unexplained reason, mass amounts of CDN internet hosted content is moved and outsourced to overseas companies.

  13. JM Skillman says:

    Hoser at Large
    When the CD-R levy destroyed my CD-R sales business, I left the country. Now, I have just found my next business – hosting Canadian websites offshore. THANK YOU! I’ve been waiting for something like this as its inevitability has been as obvious in coming as a December snowstorm. First comes the ‘watered-down’ version, then, bend over hosers, and watch me profit!

  14. freedom lover says:

    Why must the govt hate freedom
    This is all very simple. They hate freedom.

    The CRTC doesn’t care about me, when I voiced my concern that I couldn’t operate a Canadian Movie streaming website because of the traffic shaping of Bell and Rogers, did they listen? NO. I contacted the competition bureau, they said talk to the CRTC.

    Enough! Stop hating freedom and leave me alone!

  15. Andre Laurin says:

    Interesting to see that with these groups and there ridiculous demands/requests that dictatorship is alive and well in Canada.

    What a joke.

  16. Nothing wrong with making demands
    Let them demand all they want. This is a free country. I have a right to goto the CRTC and demand that they remove all content excluding pornography. Doesn’t mean anyone is going to listen to me. This is freedom at its finest. Now, as canadians, we have the freedom to fight against these fools. I’m a musician, and I’m fully against their nonsense. Canada doesn’t need rules to force canadian content in the media, Canada just needs better content.

    Bryan Adams, Barenaked Ladies, Skinny Puppy, Front Line Assembly, Celine Dion, Cirque du Soleil, Corner Gas, Cryptopsy, Stargate SG1, Anabolic Frolic, David Kristian, Cube. That’s just some music, tv shows, movies, that has been famous in and out of Canada. Some of it historically significant too. Look, we can never, ever compete in content production against the US. We’re only big by land mass, not population, and we should stop trying to ignore that fact. The Internet though gives us artists a level playing field by giving us only two options:

    1) Be persistent. Keep pushing your content out on the internet.
    2) Signal to noise ratio. If it’s good and you don’t give up on #1, then the quality will carry your art even further, no matter what country you’re from.

    Besides, Canadian influence doesn’t have to exist in Canada alone. How many great actors in hollywood are Canadian? How many american TV shows have canadian actors? Battlestar Gallactica, one of the most acclaimed TV shows in the past 10 years, has a huge canadian cast.

    Also… stop using the country of origin as a quality metric. People don’t look at Battlestar Gallactica and say “Wow, America is so good” nor do they look at “Juno” and think Canada is so good. Juno didn’t make me a better canadian artist by association.

    I’m tired of unions, organizations, and corporations who claim to represent artists and do nothing but make it harder for me to succeed by making mediums less accessible, alienating fans, and giving the content producing world a bad name. Go away…

  17. Uh …
    These people don’t understand the Internet, and probably never will. They are the last people on the planet that should have any input whatsoever; I can only hope and pray these absurd proposals fall on deaf ears.

  18. Steven Rowat says:

    SOCAN skewed toward ‘star-maker machinery’
    I was a member of SOCAN for almost 20 years (both as artist and publisher). I gradually came to realize that they were doing very little for the vast bulk of their member artists. For example, they had their statistical sampling set up so that the royalty for airplay of infrequently played local artists actually wasn’t paid to them; it was paid to Céline Dion et al. In other words, unless you had wide distribution above a certain level, you didn’t merit being paid; but they still collected the royalty and paid it to people with higher play rates (and incomes).

    The average SOCAN-derived income for an artist in SOCAN was published in their newsletter to be around $1500 a year CDN (several years ago) – BUT, among all the pretty graphs and tables, nothing told you how this ‘average’ was spread – it could have been, and I suspect was, highly skewed so that thousands, possibly most, of the members got nothing, and a small percent got large incomes.

    I tried on three different occasions, over the course of 10 years, to get this data about the relative amount of their royalty payouts that goes to higher or lower income earners. Once I was just not answered; the other two times I was promised the data and didn’t get sent it; they abandoned the issue. After the third time, I think I can be forgiven for thinking there may be a reason why they don’t want this information public: and that it might have to do with the influence of large companies, the economies of scale, and ‘the star-maker machinery behind the popular song’.

    So goodbye SOCAN.

    We don’t need megastars. We don’t need someone to tell us whether we are Canadian enough or not. We need simple direct payment for our work, via an effective open DRM system, controlled by the creator of the work, with handshake to micropayments. This will allow direct link between creator and user with no middle-people except open-source software. And people are working on these systems: see for example , which is the Open Digital Rights Language.

  19. Brett Glass says:

    While the censorship and taxation proposed by some of the groups above are particularly nasty, the so-called “network neutrality” provisions are as well. That’s because they are not “neutral” at all. They amount to heavy handed regulation of ISPs in a way that favors content providers at the expense of the ISPs. (And, of course, ultimately the consumers pay for this.)

  20. Brett Glass says:

    Network “neutrality” isn’t.
    While the censorship and taxation proposed by some of the groups above are particularly nasty, the so-called “network neutrality” provisions are as well. They amount to heavy handed regulation of ISPs in a way that favors content providers at the expense of the ISPs. (And, of course, ultimately the consumers pay for this.)

  21. Canadian firewall
    Here it is, folks.

    Special interest groups want absolute power over the internet, in Canada.

    ISP taxes, and more taxes and/or levies and/or service charges to support “Canadian” content.

    Licenses to broadcast over the internet, ie webpages, video, audio, etc.

    How to get around this bullshit.

    Put your content on non-canadian servers/hosts.

    Access the net over VPN and bypass the whole monitoring process, or at least make it very hard for them to see

    what your doing.

    You might not be able to bypass your ISP, but you can re-route to other ISP’s through them, and get “unfiltered” internet.

    The Canadian gov’t can’t decide if its going to have another bloody election, so they’re bloody useless.

    The CRTC is going to try and control the internet. *cough* Like hell you are * cough*

  22. Joking Right? says:

    When all else fails
    Just add taxes. Charge everyone. You cant use your brain to make those pirating pay then why not charge? Levy and taxes do 2 things:

    1) Justification for those pirating
    2) Make people who dont pirate ticked off that they have to pay extra and then dont want to buy the stuff either.

    Its like the auto moguls flying in private jets to cry poor. When I see movie / tv stars .. and singers really down and out because of pirating then sure tax away .. but in the meantime those of us who dont download music unless we pay .99 cents a song on iTunes DONT WANT ANY OTHER TAXES PERIOD!!

  23. I like the idea of Canada putting itself forward as a social and economic laboratory
    Along with most of the critics I think that these ideas are stupid and counter-productive.

    However, I don’t mind Canada implementing these proposals in the form of legislation so that we can all see what happens then. I like the idea of Canada putting itself forward as a social and economic laboratory, so we can avoid this mistake in an economy that matters.

  24. James Bourne says:

    Do I get a rebate?
    We use iTunes and pay for music. We also purchase music CDs, both online and in the store. We also purchase videos and rent videos.

    If I’m forced to pay a legislated levy for media, do I get a rebate or discount on music I legitimately purchase?

    And safe to say, SOCAN is seriously off their nut. Thanks for playing!

  25. like all idiots
    greece start seeing what they did to banks, govt buildings and police stations

    continue on this path and ye shall have your answers to life.

  26. like all idiots
    and screw you for DRM and TPM

  27. Joe Sanders says:

    I’m so mad
    This kind of thing pisses me off so much I want to punch myself. G-D DAMMIT!

  28. Money’s worth
    If I’m going to contribute to some of the “top” Canadian musicians then I wan’t improved harmonies and better counterpoint. Also, enforced practice times and no long lunches.

  29. Ah, poor little misguided CRTC…a tool of the media companies (and unions)
    Yes, please try and regulate user-generated content, good luck with that! Hard to regulate what you obviously don’t understand.

    The Internet has leveled the playing field for all content creators, regardless of origin. Shame on these folks for their lack of knowledge. There has never been a better time to be an artist/creator.

    People who steal, steal content that they would NEVER pay for, especially if you try to enforce crap like this. People who WILL pay for content however, have never had better selection and immediate access to the content they pay for.

    Don’t kill the goose who laid the golden egg. Internet means opportunity. Anyone can create their own TV show (or music, whatever you like), get free (or nearly free) hosting for it, interact with fans, set up micro-payments, and if they work hard, do very well. So where’s the flaw in that?!

    And SOCAN is the biggest joke ever…it’s all about royalties to Celine Dion. What a country.

  30. What the heck? says:

    Socan has got to be the world’s biggest joke. I can see a bunch of user generated content telling them so springing up in the near future… Disgusting.

  31. somebody with a good taste says:

    to Richard G.
    > And do they really expect people to be happy paying a
    > tax that goes to making new porn.

    Since I am not from Canada (=> not paying taxes there), but Kate (from Kates Playground) is, I am totally in favor of spending more canadian tax money on the production of canadian porn.
    Thanks mates! 🙂

  32. I’ll Take a Cut of That ISP Levy!
    I create new content on the web everyday for clients and on my personal blogs.

    I wonder how much of that ISP Levy ACTRA will send to Bridger Bay? I promise to add some Canadian content to every post!

  33. I’ll Take a Cut of That ISP Levy!
    I create new content on the web everyday for clients and on my personal blogs.

    I wonder how much of that ISP Levy ACTRA will send to ? I promise to add some Canadian content to every post!

  34. The Great Canadian Internet Stone Age Cometh!
    The filings of these Canadian organizations dramatically illustrate just how out of touch and deluded they are with respect to new media and the Interwebs!

    Especially when it comes to “Canadian” content. Clearly they haven’t spent very much time on some on our “famous” Canadian websites like Comedy Central that features a plethora of fine Canadian content supported solely by US content that is FREE to everyone south of the 49th.

    The single biggest problem with Canadian content is forced Canadian content. It’s clear to anyone who watches Canadian content that a large amount of it is simply broadcast shovelware produced to satisfy Canadian content requirements. It DOES not advance our culture and it DOES not create any jobs. It simple allows CTVGlobemedia and other Canadian broadcasters to reap millions of advertising dollars from US content without having to invest significantly or in any meaningful way in real Canadian content.

    Don’t agree? Well just look at how far Canadian content has come thanks to the CRTC’s previous legislative interventions. Just watch one evening of Canadian “primetime”. Exactly!

  35. This is the funniest thing I have read in a long time. I called my MP where I live and he basically boilded it down to people wanting to get paid for doing nothing. As far as I know if your good at your trade be it plumbing, welding, acting and even singing if your good you will not have to worrie about the money because it will be there. If your not good people wont want your services what ever they might be and you wont get paid. If there so concered about canadian content on the internet well look around your house or office for products made in canada. GOOD LUCK !!!!!! Seems to me to be a total double standard. So mabie there should be an aditional tax to support failing buisneses, it’s only fair. We could also raise the monies allowed to people who use the wellfair system after all there failures at life, because it is only fair.
    really what those broke entertainers need to do is just get a job. Wannabe people make me laugh, but not when they cost me more money. Seems to me there is something wrong with our system.

  36. Great Firewall of Canada
    I keep seeing people post about these cartels are out of touch with modern times etc. The truth is they are not out of touch; and they’re merely beginning their battle to win the biggest piece of internet pie at the public’s expense. In other words, they know what they’re doing and doing it with their maximum effort.

    It’s funny the CRTC is not protecting the Canadian public’s interests (previous anti net-neutrality decision etc.) so why are they still relevant? Why do they have enormous powers over the internet and Canadians’ lives in this information collaboration age?

    The news media conglomerate may extol Canada as the virtue of freedom compared to China, but behind the facade, Canada is no better. Canada’s Great Firewall is behind the CRTC and their supporters, shareholders. The delusion is funny.

  37. Arthur Goldsmith says:

    This just forced the telecoms to undermine their Net Neutrality position by arguing against this.
    The paper that the telecoms are swearing by, essentially argues in favor of net neutrality, by defining their role in delivering internet service:

    “Even if one were to ignore the adverse impact on the Internet, ISPs are not
    structurally in a position to help promote the production and distribution of Canadian-
    based new media content. The ISPs are unlike traditional broadcasters with respect to
    where they fit in the value chain or how they operate. ISPs, in contrast to
    broadcasters, do not typically play a substantive role in the creation and selection
    (programming) of such media content (whether broadcast or otherwise) that is carried
    over the Internet. Indeed, inducing ISPs to play a more direct role in content
    management would likely have adverse implications for the Internet as a general
    platform for open electronic communications.”

  38. One issue sorely lacking with all the CRTC hearing debates
    Is the lack of discussion regarding how ISPs want to become the gatekeepers of the internet, and the lack of regulation to prevent such actions that would eventually allow ISPs to return to their visions of Portal suppliers. This in effect would allow them to control your access to the internet, similar to what cable and satelite television are pesently.
    You would then have to pay subscriber fees for their “special blocks” of internet packages. This is where the regulation needs to be directed at IMHO.

  39. Ken Zakreski says:

    What if we lose our cultural industries
    It would be a shame if we let our cultural industries wither away because we are short sighted. You don’t know what you have till its gone…

    That is the problem facing the CRTC. If they do nothing and our cultural industries collapse you can’t just kick start them back up. Culture isn’t some oil sands discovery you mine when needed.

    Further, culture is not just an industry it impacts on what we do as a people. United $tates culture already confuses our electorate. Canadians think we elect a Prime Minister like the United States elects a President and look how that causes problems.

    Before you argue to dump CanCon rules and regulations answer me these questions. In Canada when you’re arrested; do you have the right to an attourney and the right to remain silent? Are you sure?

    Read my comments on the New Media CRTC comment website, show me where I’m wrong.

  40. Freedom 99 says:

    Freedom 99
    I say, Free licence for everyone, free funding for everyone, Free internet for everyone and Free shelfspace for the CRTC

  41. More Fat, More Stupid, and more Irrelevant
    My 35 years experience in the media has brought me to the conclusion that the CRTC is the agent of the media owners in Canada who trade benefits with the government. They can not be trusted. They do not have the public’s interest in mind and they will only listen if the public demands action. If you don’t like what is happening don’t send in a nice proposal and wait in line to speak at the hearing sham. Get a few hundred people together and protest on Parliament Hill for one day and send the fear of god onto them”. Send a barrage of emails to Von Finckelstein telling him to to get it right or get out of town. Only then will they know we are “mad as hell and we aren’t willing to take it anymore”.

    The leeches that are making proposal are all just trying to get a piece of a very sweet pie using pretzel logic and bull shit to make themselves even more fat, more stupid, and more irrelevant.

  42. Ken Zareski – What if…..
    Ken, after a few hundred hearing I can say that the usual lever used to get what a group wants is the “what if the sky falls and we lose our cultural industries” ploy. After 35 years I have heard this song sung over and over and over again to justify everything and anything. It is a common tactic by the bottom feeders who don’t have enough smarts or talent to make a real living – they are the leeches who use poor artists to enrich themselves. What Canadians really want is to support the arts without funding the leeches, but in the current era of stupidity no one has proposed a way to do that. Further regulation and taxes only burdens an industry and give power to people who are neither capable or worthy of handling it.