Supreme Court of Canada Rules ISPs Are Not Broadcasters

The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that Internet providers are not broadcasters for the purposes of the Broadcasting Act when they simply transmit content to subscribers.  The court noted “when providing access to the Internet, which is the only function of ISPs placed in issue by the reference question, they take no part in the selection, origination, or packaging of content. We agree with Noël J.A. that the term ‘broadcasting undertaking’ does not contemplate an entity with no role to play in contributing to the Broadcasting Act’s policy objectives.” ACTRA vowed not to give up and continue to find ways to force ISPs to make financial contributions to new media creation.

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  1. Content Monitoring
    Not exactly on topic, but…
    On the surface, I’d say I like this ruling. I am of the opinion that ISPs are nothing more than the lines which supply the data – infrastructure maintenance & support. If they have no legal tie to the information being transmitted, then they have no obligation to monitor it. Of course, they can *choose* to, if surveillance of their customer base is important to them, but I suspect consumers will favour ISPs who are not trying to criminalize them or their family.
    OTOH, over the years I’ve gained an appreciation for Cancon, and would rather not see it whither away. But if this approach had been successful, I suspect it would have done more harm to citizens than good. It’s not like some other facet of our federal/provincial tax pool couldn’t absorb the cost of perpetuating Cancon works.

  2. It’s Insane …
    … that we still don’t have a legislative framework to deal rationally and consistently with the entire spectrum of communications services from common carrier to broadcaster.

  3. ACTRA is pathetic…
    Taxes (levies, whatever you want to call it) for Cancon is a freakin’ joke. When they finally DO create a hit, they destroy it. The networks are all about playing it safe long before the recession.

    If Cancon can’t stand on its own merits, it must adapt or die. End of story.

  4. @Danux
    Agreed. If they get this, then they’ll next be going after the atmosphere; after all, the Earth’s atmosphere is the carrier for the radio waves that real broadcasters use for OTA.

    Of course, these are the same folks that are whining about Rogers, Bell, etc (the ISPs that also have mass media holdings) favouring their own content channels over others.