My weekly technology column (Toronto Star version
, homepage version
) notes that earlier this year, the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission launched a consultation into the policy implications of increasingly popular Internet-based video services such as Netflix. The consultation was the CRTC’s response to broadcaster and cultural groups including Bell Media, Astral Media, ACTRA, the Canadian Media Production Association, and SOCAN, who formed the Online Broadcasting Working Group to urge it to step up to the regulatory plate.
While many feared the CRTC would jump at the chance for new Internet regulation, last week it surprised observers by rightly concluding that its consultation generated plenty of rhetoric about the dangers of an unregulated over-the-top video services market, but no evidence of real harm. Given the lack of evidence and the absence of entry barriers for Canadian companies to establish their own competitive offerings, the CRTC decided to open a “watching brief” with the promise to revisit the issue in another fact-finding exercise next year. The CRTC decision concluded “it is best to allow the over-the-top market to continue evolving, better measurement tools to emerge and entities that contribute to the policy objectives of the Act to take advantage of the many opportunities in this new environment.”
This is close to what I suggested might happen back in July, when I noted “given the lack of actual evidence – this has been a fear-finding exercise rather than a fact-finding one – the CRTC should surely label this a watching brief and wait until 2014.” There is a big difference between waiting until the next scheduled new media review in 2014 and kick-starting another examination of the issue next May, however. The CRTC message to the Online Broadcasting Working Group is “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” By opening the door to two reviews in the span of a one-year period, the Commission hold on new Internet regulation may only be a temporary reprieve.
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The Canadian Federation of Students brings together over one-half million students from more than 80 university and college students’ unions across Canada. The CFS has been vocal on copyright reform
and provided the following comments on the digital lock rules:
While C-32 proposes a welcome expansion of fair dealing, the anti-circumvention provisions would prevent users from exercising this and all other rights granted to them by the act in any instance in which a digital lock is present. these provisions would allow corporate copyright owners to freely bypass users’ rights and exercise absolute control over what users are able to do with copyrighted works. these provisions would greatly limit what consumers can do with Cds, dvds, and other purchased media; how media outlets can use videos and other multimedia for news reporting; and how researchers can use media, software, and other copyrighted works in their research.
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Appeared in the Toronto Star on October 9, 2011 as Why Are Consumers Missing from CRTC’s Online Video Ruling? Earlier this year, the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission launched a consultation into the policy implications of increasingly popular Internet-based video services such as Netflix. The consultation was the CRTC’s response […]
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