Canadian copyright lobby groups effort to persuade the government to restrict fair dealing has often focused on a particular use case: the course pack. For many years, course packs were used by university and college professors to pull together a customized collection of reading materials for their courses. The course packs were copied and typically sold as an alternative to course textbooks. Copyright lobby groups and their supporters have long claimed that the practice relies on fair dealing and that universities are profiting from copying without compensation. My Fair Dealing Week series on Canadian copyright, fair dealing, and education (Setting the Record Straight, The Massive Shift to Electronic Licensing, Millions Spent on Transactional Licences Demonstrate Fair Dealing is No Free for All) continues with a look at what has actually happened with data demonstrating the printed course packs have all but disappeared from university campuses.
Archive for February 24th, 2023
The Bill C-18 Reality: Everyone Loses When the Government Mandates Payments for Links
The report that Google is conducting a national test that removes links to Canadian news sites for a small percentage of users sparked a predictable reaction as politicians who were warned that Bill C-18 could lead to this, now want to know how it could happen. None of this week’s developments should come as a surprise. Bill C-18 presents Google and Facebook with a choice: pay hundreds of millions of dollars primarily to Canadian broadcasters for links to news articles or stop linking. Both companies are doing precisely what they said they would do, namely considering stopping linking (Google conducted the same tests in Australia several years ago). Indeed, strip away the hyperbole and the bottom line is this: the costs of Bill C-18 are enormous (the government’s Senate representative suggesting the bill could result in revenues to cover 35% of news expenditures of every news outlet in Canada) and the revenues from news for the platforms are not (Facebook says news only constitutes 3 percent of posts and Google does not even run ads on its Google News product). As some have noted, the government says the companies are stealing content if they link and blocking content if they don’t.