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Net Neutrality rally by Alistair (CC BY-NC 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/4RFiJd

Net Neutrality Alive and Well in Canada: CRTC Crafts Full Code With Zero Rating Decision

The CRTC today released the final chapter (for now) in its net neutrality governance framework, creating policy that establishes strong safeguards against net neutrality violations and severely restricts the ability for providers to engage in zero rating practices. When combined with the federal government’s clear support for net neutrality, the Canadian framework is now one of the strongest in the world, providing guidance for the providers and appropriate protections for users and innovative services.

The Commission established its first net neutrality policy response in 2009 with the Internet traffic management practices. The rules restrict content blocking or slowdowns and require ISPs to disclose how they manage their networks. The issue expanded into zero rating in 2013 when Ben Klass, a graduate student in telecommunications, filed a complaint with the CRTC over how Bell approach to its Mobile TV product. In January 2015, the CRTC released its decision in the case, siding with Klass. The Commission expressed concern that the service “may end up inhibiting the introduction and growth of other mobile TV services accessed over the Internet, which reduces innovation and consumer choice.”

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April 20, 2017 9 comments News
Paramount Marquee by Kurt Bauschardt (CC BY-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/9fGCEV

The Reel Story: Why Changing How We Measure a “Canadian Film” is Long Overdue

National Canadian Film Day 150, described as the world’s largest film festival, was held yesterday with events that showcased Canadian feature films at hundreds of venues from coast to coast. The event had a large number of sponsors (the Prime Minister promoted it) that helped place the spotlight on Canadian film. Yet a day devoted to Canadian feature film might also have called attention to the struggles of the Canadian feature film category and considered whether significant policy reforms are needed. This year’s Canadian Media Producers Association Profile 2016, which chronicles the industry (I used it earlier this year to discuss how foreign financing – not regulated contributions – is the now the top source of English-language television production in Canada), tells a story of a feature film industry that relies on public dollars to finance the majority of its costs, has hit a decade low in the number of films produced, and is experiencing declining budgets.

In the last reported year, the average English-language feature film budget declined to $2.2 million and the percentage of films with budgets over $10 million dropped to just 2%.  There were a total of 94 feature films made, the lowest figure in the past decade. The average budget for a Canadian English-language fiction feature film was also its lowest in the past ten years.

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April 20, 2017 0 comments News
What is on Television Tonight by Trey Ratcliff (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/t1pU6

The Internet as Cable: The Risk of Treating Telecommunications as Cultural Policy

Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly travels to California this week with an agenda that includes meetings with Internet giants such as Google and Facebook. Given the recent announcement in the budget that the government plans to “review and modernize” the Broadcasting Act and Telecommunications Act, the discussions may help shape an issue that could have a profound impact on the Internet in Canada as there are concerns the government may attempt to shoehorn Canadian cultural policies into telecommunications law.

My Globe and Mail column notes that Ms. Joly’s consultation last year on Cancon in a digital world revealed there is a strong appetite within the traditional Canadian culture lobby for bringing policies such as cultural taxes and mandated Cancon requirements to the Internet. The groups claim the Internet is rapidly replacing the conventional broadcast system as a means of distributing cultural content and that the longstanding analog rules should be shifted into the digital environment.

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April 19, 2017 3 comments Columns
Creative Commons by Kristina Alexanderson (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/dp7BN7

Copyright Reform in Canada and Beyond

Creative Commons will hold their annual global summit in Toronto later this month. In anticipation of that event, I discussed copyright reform in Canada and around the world in an interview with Creative Commons’ Public Policy manager Timothy Vollmer.  The full interview, which included discussion on copyright and trade agreements, educational exceptions, and empirical data, can be found here. An excerpt discussing the Canadian experience is posted below:

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April 18, 2017 0 comments News
New Thinking on Innovation, https://www.cigionline.org/innovation-series?utm_source=author&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=innovation&utm_content=release1

Copyright in the Public Interest: How Canada Can Establish a Pro-Innovation Reform Agenda

The Centre for International Governance Innovation, the well-respected independent think tank based in Waterloo, has posted the first part of an exceptional new series on innovation. From the introduction from Rohinton Medhora to several pieces on innovation and trade (Kahin, Haggart, Ciuriak, and Van Harten), the series promises to provide politicians and policy makers with valuable insights to support the government’s focus on innovation. I was delighted to participate in the project with a piece titled How Trolls are Stifling Innovators, Gamers and Netflix Junkies.

The contribution, which is accompanied by a video on the impact of copyright and fair use on innovation, identifies several areas of copyright reform that are closely linked to innovation policy.  These include copyright flexibilities such as fair use, the need to prevent IP and copyright misuse, and the harms associated with restrictive digital lock rules. The article starts by noting that the Supreme Court of Canada highlighted the link between copyright and innovation in the 2002 Theberge decision:

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April 13, 2017 0 comments News