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Pablo Rodriguez tweet, May 3, 2022 https://twitter.com/pablorodriguez/status/1521467518149402624

Standing on a Shaky Foundation: What Lies Behind The Near-Impossible Challenge of Updating Canada’s Outdated Cancon Rules

Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez, who is hosting a culture summit this week in Ottawa, has said that he is open to modernizing the definition of Canadian content and that he is “open to all kinds of suggestions and ideas.” I’ve devoted many posts to the Cancon definition issue (even creating a Cancon quiz), noting that the current system is a poor proxy for “telling Canadian stories.” This system matters since the government’s Internet regulation policies are ostensibly designed to support Canadian content, but if the existing definitions don’t do that, they cannot reasonably be expected to achieve their objectives.

While I’m supportive of Rodriguez opening the door to reform, I have my doubts the government will make any significant changes to the current system. The challenge is that Cancon policy stands on a shaky foundation that is really three policies in one: an economic policy, a cultural policy, and an intellectual property policy. These three policies are often at odds with one another and used by politicians and lobby groups interchangeably to justify mandated contributions, content regulation, and foreign ownership restrictions. When the data doesn’t support one of the policies, they simply shift the discussion to one of the other policy objectives.

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May 4, 2022 8 comments News
David Lametti, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic at the Creative Commons Global Summit 2017 by Sebastiaan ter Burg (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/THdYmQ

The Canadian Government Makes its Choice: Implementation of Copyright Term Extension Without Mitigating Against the Harms

The Canadian government plans to extend the term of copyright from the international standard of life of the author plus 50 years to life plus 70 years without mitigation measures that would have reduced the harms and burden of the extension. The Budget Implementation Act, a 443 page bill that adopts the omnibus approach the government had pledged to reject, was posted late yesterday by Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s department and could be tabled in the House of Commons as early as today. Page 328 of the bill features the shoehorned amendments to the Copyright Act, including an extension of the term of copyright. While the government is not making the change retroactive (meaning works currently in the public domain stay there), no one seriously expected that to happen. What many had hoped – based on the government’s own committee recommendations and copyright consultation – was to introduce mitigation measures to reduce the economic cost and cultural harm that comes from term extension. Instead, Freeland, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Innovation, Science and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne, and Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez have chosen to reject the recommendations of students, teachers, universities, librarians, IP experts, and their own Justice Minister.

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April 27, 2022 5 comments News
what I should be studying... by Jonathan Coffey https://flic.kr/p/JPyac (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

What is the Logic Behind The Logic’s Demand for Internet Platform Payments?

The Logic is a Toronto-based news startup that focuses on the innovation economy. Launched in 2018, it has attracted some great reporters with a subscription-based business model that starts at $299 per year. I’ve been a subscriber for several years, dating back to when it began providing extensive coverage of the Waterfront Toronto – Sidewalk smart city project and I was serving as chair of the Waterfront Toronto Digital Strategy Advisory Board. The site, which tends to produce one or two new articles per day, uses a hard paywall as nearly all articles – other than an occasional Letter from the Editor – can only be accessed by paying subscribers.

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April 26, 2022 14 comments News
The Internet is the Problem by Alex Pang (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/dvKhNb

Not an Outlier: What the Government’s Online Harms Secrecy Debacle Says About Its Internet Regulation Plans

My post on the hundreds of submissions to the government’s online harms consultation has garnered significant attention, including a front page news story from the Globe and Mail (I was also pleased to appear on Evan Solomon’s show and the Dean Blundell podcast). The coverage has rightly focused on previously secret submissions such as those from Twitter likening the Canadian plan to China or North Korea and the National Council of Canadian Muslims, who warn that the legislation would have risked constituting “one of the most significant assaults on marginalized and racialized communities in years.” If you haven’t read it, please read my post summarizing some of the key findings or access the entire package that was obtained under the Access to Information Act.

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April 22, 2022 8 comments News
Declassified/Top Secret by Bryan Jones (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/6SWKkN

The Rest of the Online Harms Consultation Story: Canadian Heritage Forced to Release Hundreds of Public Submissions Under Access to Information Law

For months, the results of the government’s online harms consultation was shrouded in secrecy as the Canadian Heritage refused to disclose the hundreds of submissions it received. I launched a page that featured publicly available submissions (links reposted below), including 25 submissions from organizations and companies as well as six individual expert submissions. I later followed up with two posts that provided further details on the publicly available submissions (here and here). Earlier this year, Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez released a “what we heard” report that again blocked making the actual submissions public, but provided a summary that left little doubt that the government’s plans were widely criticized and required a policy reset.

In the meantime, I filed an Access to Information Act request to compel disclosure by law of the consultation submissions. It took many months, but this week the department released the results. While some submissions may be excluded – third parties can object on certain grounds – I have obtained hundreds of additional submissions in a 1,162 page file. These can be obtained directly from Canadian Heritage by launching an informal access request at no cost with the department. The file to request is A-2021-00174 (or click here for the full file for the moment).

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April 21, 2022 16 comments News