Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault recently suggested that the government’s support for news media should be replaced by copyright rules that would open the door to payments from internet companies such as Google and Facebook. Guilbeault indicated that a legislative package was being prepared for the fall that would include a press publishers’ right is that is commonly referred to as an internet link tax.
Julia Reda is a former Member of the European Parliament who for several years was the most active and visible politician in Europe when it came to copyright reform. That multi-year debate ultimately led to the adoption of a link tax and upload filters with a European directive. She joins me on the podcast to talk about that experience, why she believes a link tax harms freedom of expression and diversity of media, and what lessons Canada should draw from the European experience.
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Last week, Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault called into question his own government’s policies on supporting news media, suggesting that those programs should be replaced by copyright rules that would open the door to payments from internet companies such as Google and Facebook. Mr. Guilbeault indicated that a legislative package was being prepared for the fall that would include new powers for Canada’s communications regulator and what are commonly referred to as Netflix taxes and internet linking taxes.
My Globe and Mail op-ed notes the government’s support for new internet taxes should not come as a surprise. There were strong signals that the spring budget – postponed indefinitely due to the current public health crisis – was going to include expanding sales taxes to capture digital sales such as Netflix or Spotify subscriptions.
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Dubbed by some as the worst film ever made, The Room has become a cult-like film classic. Written, directed, produced and starring Tommy Wiseau, the movie was the subject of the 2017 film The Disaster Artist and a documentary titled Room Full of Spoons by Canadian documentary filmmakers who wanted to tell the story of the film and its popularity. The documentary has been the subject of years of litigation with Wiseau at one point obtaining an injunction to stop its release.
The Ontario Superior Court of Justice recently released an important decision in the case with significant implications for creators involving copyright, fair dealing, moral rights, and a host of other legal issues. Bob Tarantino, Counsel at Dentons Canada LLP, joins me on the podcast this week to discuss why the decision will be welcome news for documentary filmmakers.
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Canadian media organizations face difficult challenges in an age of virtually unlimited Internet competition, a dramatic shift toward digital advertising, and an unprecedented global economic and health crisis. That has led media groups to urge the federal government to “take on” Google and Facebook by requiring them to fund local media. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has thus far declined to do so. That may spark criticism in some quarters but claims that government-mandated payments from Internet companies will solve the sector’s ills are unconvincing.
My Financial Post op-ed notes that everyone agrees the media sector is more competitive than ever. News organizations such as the New York Times and Washington Post, digital media companies like The Athletic and The Logic, podcasters competing with mainstream media audio offerings and the CBC’s continued digital expansion all offer compelling and competitive news alternatives. This breadth of choice for Canadian news consumers isn’t the fault of Google or Facebook. It is a reflection of low barriers to market entry and a proliferation of services that often do a better job than many established media companies of serving specialized content.
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Fair dealing – the Canadian version of fair use – has been recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada as a users’ right. The need for a large and liberal interpretation to the right is a cornerstone of Canadian copyright law. With millions of Canadian students at home due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the importance of fair dealing has grown as teachers seek to provide access to teaching materials and ensure they remain compliant with the law. Sam Trosow and Lisa Macklem of Western University recently published a detailed analysis on fair dealing and emergency remote teaching in Canada. They joined me on the podcast to discuss fair dealing, its application during the current pandemic, and recent developments involving reading aloud programs as well as the Federal Court of Appeal decision in York University v. Access Copyright.
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