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CRTC Chair Confirms Bill C-11 Captures User Content, Will Take Years to Implement

CRTC Chair Ian Scott appeared before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage yesterday and Bill C-11 proved to be a popular topic of discussion. The exchanges got testy at times as Scott seemingly stepped outside of his role as an independent regulatory by regularly defending government legislation, even veering into commenting on newspapers, which clearly falls outside the CRTC’s jurisdiction. With respect to Bill C-11, most newsworthy were two comments regarding the regulation of user content and the timelines for implementing the bill if it receives royal assent.

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May 19, 2022 13 comments News
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Is There Anything Less Convincing than CRTC Chair Ian Scott’s Empty Assurances on Bill C-11 User Content Regulation?

The Online Streaming Act (Bill C-11) has now passed second reading in the House of Commons and will be the subject of hearings at the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in the coming weeks. With the prospect of user generated content regulation still a serious concern, outgoing CRTC Chair Ian Scott tried to provide assurances earlier this week that the Commission has no interest in exercising regulatory powers over user generated content. Yet Scott’s comments rang hollow as he twisted himself in a series of contradictory knots that lead to the inescapable conclusion that non-binding promises without actual reforms mean little.

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May 18, 2022 0 comments News
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Digging Into the Government’s Online News Act Claims, Part Two: This is “Minimal Market Intervention”?!

The government has started its defence of Bill C-18, the Online News Act, in the House of Commons with claims that it simply requires compensation for use of news content and adopts a “minimal market intervention” approach. My post yesterday focused on the use claims and this post digs into the bill to see just how minimalist it is. Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez promoted the bill as a market-oriented approach on the day the bill was tabled, leading to an interview with Vassy Kapelos in which she was visibly puzzled at the claim.

Setting aside the fact that many leading Canadian media organizations have already struck news deals with Google and Facebook without government intervention, here is a look at what the government thinks constitutes “minimal market intervention”:

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May 17, 2022 4 comments News
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Digging Into the Government’s Online News Act Claims, Part One: Compensation For “Use” of News Content

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.

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May 16, 2022 0 comments News
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Keeping the Bill C-11 Implementation Secret, Regulating User Content, and Citing Non-Existent Benefits: Some Reflections on the House of Commons Online Streaming Act Debate

The Online Streaming Act (Bill C-11) was the subject of hours of debate yesterday in the House of Commons as the government presses to get the bill out of second reading and onto committee for hearings and further study. Setting aside the claims of “censorship” on one side and “you don’t care about creators” on the other, there were some notable takeaways from the debate, including the government digging in on keeping the policy direction to the CRTC secret, acknowledging (perhaps inadvertently) that the bill does regulate user generated content, and several comments from MPs that promise outcomes that are simply not part of the bill.

Leading off during Question Period was a direct question to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about releasing the planned policy directive to the CRTC before the bill receives royal assent so that Canadians can see the details of how the bill is intended to be implemented.

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May 12, 2022 6 comments News