Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez appeared last night before the Senate committee studying Bill C-18, facing repeated questions about how his government will respond if Internet platforms such as Facebook block news sharing in response to bill’s system of mandated payments for links. Much like Prime Minister Trudeau earlier in the day, Rodriguez had few answers, relying instead on tough talk about not backing down against the tech companies or warnings that even talking about the risks was playing into their hands. Yet the reality is that the government has boxed itself into a corner with fatally flawed legislation that could leave Canadian news organizations with lost revenues and Canadians with reduced exposure to reliable news.
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 169: Alissa Centivany and Anthony Rosborough on Repairing Canada’s Right to Repair
The right to repair would seem like a political no-brainer: a policy designed to extend the life of devices and equipment and the ability to innovate for the benefit of consumers and the environment. Yet somehow copyright law has emerged as a barrier on that right, limiting access to repair guides and restricting the ability for everyone from farmers to video gamers to tinker with their systems. The government has pledged to address the issue and Bill C-244, a private members bill making its way through the House of Commons, would appear to be the way it plans to live up to that promise.
Alissa Centivany, an assistant professor in the faculty of information and media studies at Western University and the principal investigator of a SSHRC-funded research project on the right to repair and Anthony Rosborough, who completing his doctoral thesis at the European University Institute in Florence and is set to take up a joint appointment in Law and Computer Science at Dalhousie University later this year, have been two of the most outspoken experts on this issue in Canada. They join me on the Law Bytes podcast to talk about why the time has come for government action, their experience before a House of Commons committee on the bill, and unpack some of the confusion arising from late breaking amendments.
Globe Publisher Calls Bill C-18 a “Threat to the Independence of Media” As Government Senate Representative Smears Bill Critics
The Senate hearings on Bill C-18, the Online News Act, resumed yesterday with two blockbuster panels that included the Globe and Mail, News Media Canada, La Presse, Le Devoir, Canadaland, The Line, and Village Media. The unmistakable takeaway was the enormous risks the bill creates to the independence of the press, to the future of digital media, and to the bottom lines of Canadian news outlets across the country. Further, it is increasingly apparent that the government has no real answers to these risks other than sabre rattling with tech companies and questioning the motives of critics of the legislation.
The eagerness to smear anyone who dares criticize the bill provided the most jaw-dropping moment of the hearing with Senator Peter Harder, the government’s representative in the Senate on the bill, suggesting that Bill C-18 criticism from Village Media’s Jeff Elgie, one of Canada’s most successful local digital news organizations, might be motivated by the business benefits of local media shutting down:
Extend the Deadline: My Submission to the CRTC on its Deeply Flawed Bill C-11 Consultations
The CRTC’s Bill C-11 consultations are off to a rocky start with mounting concern over short deadlines that may limit public participation and reduce the quality of the submissions. A dozen groups have asked the Commission to extend the deadlines with more groups joining in the call. The deadline for comment on the extension ended yesterday and I navigated an exceptionally difficult consultation process (more on that shortly) to submit the comments posted below. I support the extension but argue that a better approach would be to wait until the government’s policy direction process is final and there is certainty on support for public interest group participation.