Archive for June, 2023

Google News website screenshot by Spencer E Holtaway (CC BY-ND 2.0)

A Massive Own-Goal for the Government: Google to Stop News Links in Canada Due to Bill C-18

The worst case scenario for Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez, the Canadian news sector, and the Canadian public has come to pass: Google has announced that it will block news links in Canada in response to the mandated payment for links approach established in Bill C-18. The decision, which the company says will be implemented before the law takes effect, will cover search, Google News, and Google Discover. The decision – which government seemingly tried to avoid with last minute discussions with Google executives after it became apparent that the risks of exit were real – will have lasting and enormously damaging consequences for Canadians and represents a remarkable own-goal by Rodriguez who has managed to take millions away from the news sector and left everyone in a far worse position than if he had done nothing at all.

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June 29, 2023 118 comments News
Cancelled by atgw (CC BY 2.0)

The Damage Continues to Grow: Meta Begins Cancelling Existing Media Deals In Light of Bill C-18

The damage caused by the government’s Bill C-18 continues to grow as Meta has started to cancel its existing agreements with Canadian publishers. The move should not come as a surprise since any deals that involve facilitating access to news content would bring the company into the legislative framework and mandate payments for links. Indeed, Meta said earlier this week that its 18 existing deals “did not have much of a future.” When this is coupled with a reported “impasse” between the government and Google over its approach to Bill C-18, the risks to the Canadian media sector look increasingly dire. 

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June 29, 2023 15 comments News
Théâtre du chaos - administration by Jeanne Menjoulet (CC BY 2.0)

Media Chaos: How the Government’s Legislative Plans to Support Canadian Media Have Backfired Spectacularly

The Online News Act may be only days removed from having received royal assent, but the government’s plans to support the Canadian media sector have already backfired spectacularly. While it claimed its Bill C-18 would add millions of dollars to the sector and support struggling media companies, the reality has quickly intervened: blocked news sharing on Internet platforms with cancelled deals on the horizon, reports of direct corporate intervention in news departments, massive layoffs and regulatory requests to decrease spending on news, and now a nightmare merger proposal between Postmedia and Torstar. And that is just over the past week. Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez has amply demonstrated that there is no Plan B, offering up the prospect of further dependence on government through more public spending to mitigate the harms from his massive miscalculations. Not all of this is the government’s doing, but having relied on empty assurances that blocked news sharing was merely a bluff, Rodriguez picked politics and tough talk over good policy and is now left with media chaos.

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June 28, 2023 19 comments News
buyer's remorse by Benjamí Villoslada Gil (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Buyer’s Remorse?: The Risks of Bill C-18 Leading to Blocked News Sharing Becoming Real to Canadian Media

When Le Devoir director Brian Myles appeared before the Senate committee studying Bill C-18 last month, he closed by urging the committee to pass the legislation quickly, stating “the time to act is now. We can’t wait two years between the passage of the bill and the CRTC regulations, because the delay will benefit opponents, giving them time to organize and undermine the spirit and the letter of the law.” While Myles acknowledged that claims regarding “theft” of news content by Internet platforms was overstated, he nevertheless expressed full support for the bill. One month later, the Online News Act is now law, Meta has confirmed that it will block news sharing before it takes effect, and the government is reportedly in last ditch negotiations with Google to stop it from doing the same.

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June 27, 2023 8 comments News
Qponpoli, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 172: Marc Edge on Bill C-18 and the Postmedia Effect

Bill C-18 passed the House and Senate and received royal assent last week, leading Meta to confirm that it will be blocking news sharing on its Facebook and Instagram platforms given the economic costs and uncertainty with the law. Meanwhile Google is reportedly in discussions with the government about whether regulations might be crafted in a way to avoid a similar outcome.

 I’ve covered Bill C-18 extensively on the Law Bytes podcast and on this website, but the history behind the legislation and associated lobbying provides valuable context for the current situation. Marc Edge has written several books on the newspaper industry. His most recent work, The Postmedia Effect, helps makes sense of Bill C-18 as a continuum of lobbying for government support that has resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars. He joins me on the podcast to discuss. 

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June 26, 2023 3 comments Podcasts