For the better part of two decades, Canadian cultural groups have been pressing Canada’s telecom and broadcast regulator, the CRTC, to regulate and tax the Internet. The CRTC and successive governments consistently rejected the Internet regulation drumbeat, citing obvious differences with broadcast, competing public policy objectives such as affordable access, and the benefits of competition. That changed last year when the CRTC released Harnessing Change: The Future of Programming Distribution in Canada, in which it dramatically reversed its approach. Peter Menzies, a former CRTC commissioner and Vice-Chair of Telecommunications, joins this week’s LawBytes podcast to help sort through Cancon funding, Internet regulation, and the CRTC.
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The LawBytes Podcast, Episode 6: Former CRTC Vice-Chair Speaks Out on the Plan to Regulate and Tax the Internet – “Dangerous Game to Play”
No Need for New Internet Injunctions: Why Canadian Copyright Law Already Provides Rights Holders with the Legal Tools They Need
As the Industry Committee’s copyright review continues to hear from stakeholders from across the spectrum, a recurring theme has been demands that the government create a new, explicit Internet intermediary injunction that would allow for everything from site blocking to search engine result de-indexing to a ban on payment providers offering services to some sites. For example, earlier this week, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce argued before the Industry Committee:
Making Sense of the Canadian Digital Tax Debate, Part 6: Ensuring Internet Companies Pay Their Fair Share of Income Tax
The series on digital tax issues concludes with the most conventional tax issue: how to ensure that large corporations pay their fair share of income tax for profits generated in Canada (series posts on digital sales tax, Netflix tax, Internet access taxes, digital device taxes, and tax in support of newspapers). The income tax issue was raised by the NDP earlier this year, who called on the government to ensure that Internet companies pay taxes on profits made in Canada.
Canada and the U.S. reached agreement late yesterday on a new NAFTA (now renamed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement or USMCA). While much of the focus is on the dairy industry, dispute resolution, and the auto sector, the agreement will have significant implications for intellectual property, digital policy, and broadcasting. It will take some time to examine all the provisions, but the short-hand version is that Canada has agreed to extend the term of copyright, saved the notice-and-notice system for copyright infringement claims, extended the term of protection for biologics at significant long-term cost to the health care, agreed that Internet companies are not liable for third party content, extended border measures on counterfeiting, and promised to drop the CRTC policy that permitted U.S. commercials to be aired during the Super Bowl broadcast.
As the NAFTA negotiations hit a possible home stretch this week, the focal point has been primarily on issues such as dispute resolution, the dairy sector, and the auto industry. However, the digital policy issues will have huge implications for Canada and the outline of the agreement between the U.S. and Mexico suggests that Canada is facing considerable pressure to agree to changes to our copyright, patent, IP enforcement, and digital policy rules, contrary to our preferred negotiation approach.
The U.S. appears to be pushing for a TPP+ approach – the TPP provisions plus some additional changes it did not get as part of those negotiations. This is notable since Canadian authorities admitted that the TPP went far beyond any previous Canadian free trade agreement. The Canadian starting point is presumably the CPTPP, the revised TPP where Canada successfully argued for the suspension of some of the U.S.-backed provisions. This post outlines five of the biggest issues that are likely at play, though many others such as de minimis rules for shipments that affect online commerce will be closely watched and could ultimately require future reforms.