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.