Shawn Mendes by Kim Erlandsen, NRK P3 https://flic.kr/p/TJfZVz (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Shawn Mendes by Kim Erlandsen, NRK P3 https://flic.kr/p/TJfZVz (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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Concerns Mount Over Bill C-10’s Unintended Consequences to Canadian Creators

Google, which did not appear before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage as part of its study on Bill C-10 (neither did TikTok, Facebook or other big tech companies with the exception of Netflix), has spoken out over concerns with Bill C-10. The post warns of the “possible unintended consequences that could negatively and unnecessarily impact” both creators and Canadian Youtube users. The company is particularly concerned with the discoverability requirements that have been expanded to include user generated content:

If Bill-C10 rules were to go into effect as currently written, people would be seeing suggestions not based on their personal preferences or even what is most relevant, but what the government decides is ‘Canadian.’ The rules around what is considered Canadian content are complex and it is very difficult to qualify. This stands to impact all creators but we are especially concerned about the impact on new and emerging creators as they will be up against players who have been following these rules for decades.

While some may suggest that Google is merely concerned with the prospect of mandated payments, the reality is that a Canadian Heritage internal memo identified services such as Youtube Originals, Google Play Music, and Youtube Music as potentially be subject to Bill C-10 regulation. The bigger issue is the inclusion of discoverability requirements for user generated content, a measure not adopted by any other country in the world.

The negative impact of Bill C-10 on Canadian creators is attracting increasing attention, particularly in light of the fact that the committee never heard from the digital-first creative community and those that have benefited from the Internet services. For example, the Juno Awards are set for this weekend with reports noting that “no less than three Juno contenders for breakthrough artist rose from TikTok’s algorithms to global popularity over the past year.” The article highlights the link between commercial success and popularity on TikTok with Vancouver indie rapper Eric Reprid stating “no label could do what TikTok has helped us achieve. The exposure it gets us is unmatched.”

Yet despite the success stories, Bill C-10 would seek to place the government and the CRTC in command of the algorithm. In doing so, there is a real risk that these emerging Canadian creators could find their content de-prioritized with legislation that ultimately hurts those it purports to help.

9 Comments

  1. A 2019 report https://www.itworldcanada.com/article/canadians-use-youtube-to-learn-and-other-takeaways-from-the-watchtime-canada-report/418412 estimates that 40,000 Canadians have monetized their YouTube content. Where will the CRTC get the resources to regulate 40,000 Canadian creators? Then add in the millions of foreign creators that would be covered by Bill C10 and there is simply no way that the CRTC could regulate that number of creators.

    • Fortinbras says:

      Bill C-10 does not contain “rules” concerning “suggestions” on “what the government decides is Canadian”. Google is mistaken. Bill C-10 confers a certain authority on the CRTC to establish such rules, but whether the Commission will exercise that authority or in what way remains to be determined. The Broadcasting Act confers broad powers on the CRTC and generally leaves the Commission to determine how to use them so as to regulate and supervise the Canadian broadcasting system with a view to implementing the broadcasting policy set out in Section 3 of the Act.

      The CRTC currently has the authority to establish rules to govern activities on the Internet, but the Commission has declined to exercise this authority by exempting such activities. Bill C-10 sets out a road map as to how to integrate digital media programming services on the Internet into the Canadian broadcasting system, while leaving intact most of the Commission’s existing powers. Instead of companies such as Google determining what are Canadians’ personal preferences, or what is most relevant to them, the CRTC could have a say in the menu provided to Google’s customers, if it wishes to do so. This would not affect Canadians’ ability to choose or their freedom of expression, but only the way in which the alternatives are presented to them.

      Similarly, Michael Geist says that “the bigger issue is the inclusion of discoverability requirements for user generated content, a measure not adopted by any other country in the world.” In fact, there are no discoverability requirements in Bill C-10, only an authority conferred on the CRTC which may or may not produce concrete results. All of those from whom we have not been heard in the course of the CHPC hearings will have an opportunity to be heard when the Commission holds public hearings on how to put the new elements in Bill C-10 into effect.

      The CRTC will have no interest in regulating the 40,000 Canadians who purportedly have monetized their YouTube content, only those very few that are generating millions of dollars in net revenues.

      • Brandinchiu says:

        Like our government representatives, you have managed to walk right up to, then promptly sidestep the fundamental issue.

        “… the CRTC will have no interest in regulating 40000 Canadians…”:

        You make this similar point at least three different times in your comment, that the CRTC has ELECTED to not enforce powers it already has, as if this is meant to be some comfort.

        The broadening of their powers is concerning regardless of the whims of the current administration.

        The CRTC is not an elected body, and what happened South should be an eye opening event at what can happen when overly broad, untailored legislation is allowed to exist.

        It will be abused. Maybe not this year, maybe not next year.

        This is NOT the way to accomplish what the feds are trying to do.

      • “there are no discoverability requirements in Bill C-10”

        “The CRTC will have no interest in regulating the 40,000 Canadians who purportedly have monetized their YouTube content”

        The Canadian government disagrees with you: https://www.freezenet.ca/c-10-internal-memo-canadian-government-already-building-regulatory-hit-list/

  2. Justa Reader says:

    Google has a monetary interest. That’s true, and we account for that or keep it in mind. But the proposed law also affects them in many other ways as stakeholders, as they would have to implement/follow it, so they have a voice. Increased costs across the industry just increases prices across the industry, so I don’t think they’ll worry about their market position.

    I was pleased they stayed out of it until now. Canada doesn’t need foreign lobbyists meddling in our process.

    I’m glad they’re chiming in finally, once the process created a bad result. Google didn’t whine about cost. Instead, they wrote in defence of users, of Canadians. They say they don’t have a technical solution to properly qualify/quantify “Canadianness” to substitute that content instead of what was relevant for what the user requested, and even trying to directly harms users and creators.

    I’m not a Google user, and I avoid their services. They still responded well, not in their own defence, but in ours.

  3. Pingback: ● NEWS ● #MichaelGeist #Internet #Canada ☞ Concerns Mount Over Bill… | Dr. Roy Schestowitz (罗伊)

  4. Google has weighed in against the bill? Then the matter is crystal clear. I’m for it.

  5. I have yet to see much evidence that the consequences are unintended.

  6. Pingback: Google Speaks Out Against Bill C-10: Points to Impact on Canadian Creators

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