With the Online Streaming Act having passed second reading in the House of Commons and headed for further study at the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, the government moved swiftly to second reading debate on Bill C-18, the Online News Act. I’ve already written several posts expressing concern about the overbreadth of the bill and its implications. The House of Commons debate is just getting underway with the opening defence of the bill delivered by Chris Bittle, the Parliamentary Secretary for Canadian Heritage, presenting a vision of minimal intervention based on fairness:
The compensation that tech giants would provide to Canadian media through Bill C-18 would represent a giant step in ensuring the viability of strong and independent journalism in Canada, which is essential to our democracy. That is what Bill C-18 would do. It is simple. Tech giants would fairly compensate Canadian journalists when they use their content. That is it: no more, no less. It is a market-based solution that involves minimal government intervention, and I think everyone in this place can agree on that.
The government is relying on two claims here: fair compensation for the use of journalist content and a market-based approach with minimal government intervention. While there might indeed be support for a bill that did that, the Bill C-18 reality is far different. The bill extends well beyond compensation for use, stretching the meaning of “use” far beyond a reasonable standard and creating a level of intervention that simply cannot be fairly described as minimalist. This post examines the notion of fair compensation for Canadian journalists when their content is used with a post on “minimal” intervention to follow.