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Behind the Scenes of the Digital CanCon Consultation: No Netflix Regs, CRTC Review or Copyright Overhaul

Behind the Scenes of the Digital CanCon Consultation: No Netflix Regs, CRTC Review or Copyright Overhaul

Canadian Heritage Minister Melanie Joly launched her review of CanCon rules last spring by stating that “everything is on the table.” The pre-consultation revealed a sharp divide between industry and the public with industry stakeholders emphasizing more public and government support and the public focusing on efforts to promote Canadian content.

This week I obtained government documents under the Access to Information Act that provide some interesting insights in the behind-the-scenes process that brought a major government consultation from concept to launch in a matter of weeks. The roughly thousand pages show Canadian Heritage officials worked long hours to develop timelines, consultation documents, communications plans, and advisory committees. Given the time constraints, it is an impressive effort.

The documents also highlight internal thinking on several major issues, including Netflix regulation, the CRTC’s Let’s Talk TV rulings, and copyright.

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September 16, 2016 0 comments News
Oh-a oh by Jason Tester Guerrilla Futures (CC BY-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/8GTS3h

No Netflix Tax & No New Money: Reading Between the Lines of the Digital CanCon Consultation

Canadian Heritage Minister Melanie Joly’s release of the Canadian content in a digital world consultation is likely to spark renewed demands from industry stakeholders for more money from two main sources: unregulated Internet companies such as Netflix and the government. As I noted in my first post on the consultation release, there is a significant divide between the industry and the public on the issue.  Industry stakeholders emphasize more public and government support, while the public is focused on efforts to promote Canadian content.

The government will surely wait for the consultation to close before adopting firm positions, but the new consultation paper makes it clear that not everything is on the table. In fact, it adopts several notable policies and sends some signals about future funding sources.

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September 14, 2016 0 comments News
Culture and heritage ministers from across Canada meet in Victoria by Province of British Columbia (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/HVZpWv

Same As It Ever Was: The Gap Between Public and “Stakeholder” Views on Canadian Content

Canadian Heritage Minister Melanie Joly launched the next phase of her consultation on supporting Canadian content in a digital world this morning, but the results from the first “pre-consultation” phase – an online poll of the public and stakeholders – already points to the policy challenge faced by the government. The poll received more than 10,000 responses with participants asked to identify the major barriers and challenges for Canadian content. The perspective of the public and stakeholders (I place “stakeholders” in quotation marks in the title because all Canadian stakeholders) are strikingly different, with the public citing the challenges in finding and promoting content and the stakeholders seeking more money.

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September 13, 2016 6 comments News
Back to school for BC post-secondary students by Province of British Columbia (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/xTkDt4

Not a Free for All: Canadian University Libraries Spending Hundreds of Millions on Licensing

As students across Canada head back to school this week, the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL), which represents 31 member libraries, issued a reminder that Canadian education spends hundreds of millions of dollars every year on content licensing. Access Copyright and the publishing community have tried to paint the Canadian situation as a free-for-all, but the reality is that educational institutions, libraries, and students are still buying books and licensing content. In fact, recent U.S. data shows that textbook costs are increasing far faster than any other education cost.

The CARL release states:

The 31 member libraries of the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) spent $293 million on information resources in 2014-15, demonstrating a clear commitment to accessing print and digital content legally and rewarding content owners accordingly. Universities are actively engaged in outreach to their faculty, staff, and students, educating them on their rights and responsibilities under the Copyright Act and ensuring that uses of material under copyright fall well within the provisions of the law. Where educational uses are more substantive and therefore fall outside of fair dealing, the content is either purchased to be added to licensed collections, or rights clearances are obtained and royalties are paid for these uses. Trained, knowledgeable library staff support these activities.

Some voices in the publishing community and associated lobbyists have stated in the media that the education market has evaporated as a result of users’ fair dealing rights. This is inaccurate. Universities continue to buy and to license access to published works, at substantial cost, using public funds and student tuition dollars.

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September 8, 2016 2 comments News
Troll under the Bridge by ngader (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/miZWe

Canada’s Innovation Strategy Must Stop Tech Trolls

Developing a national innovation strategy has been a top priority of Navdeep Bains, Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development. Bains has created an expert panel, held meetings across the country, and launched a public consultation in the hope of identifying policies that might enhance Canada’s lacklustre innovation record.

While some have used the consultation to call for expanded intellectual property rules, the reality is that Canada already meets or exceeds international standards. The more pressing innovation issue is to address the abuse of intellectual property rights that may inhibit companies from innovating or discourage Canadians from taking advantage of the digital market.

My technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes the benefits of an anti-IP abuse law could be used to touch on the three main branches on intellectual property: patents, trademarks, and copyright.

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August 16, 2016 2 comments Columns