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The Government’s Internet Regulation Bill: Why Bill C-10 Will Mean a CRTC-Approved Netflix Service, Reduced Consumer Choice, and Less Investment in Canadian Culture

Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault tabled his “get money from web giants” Internet regulation bill this morning. As expected, Bill C-10 hands massive new powers to Canada’s telecom and broadcast regulator (the CRTC) to regulate online streaming services, opening the door to mandated Cancon payments, discoverability requirements, and confidential information disclosures all backed by new fining powers. Given that many of the details will be sorted out by the CRTC, the specifics will take years to unfold. In the short term, the bill creates considerable marketplace uncertainty that could lead to reduced spending on Canadian film and television production and delayed entry into Canada of new services. Once the policies are in place, the end result will be CRTC-approved versions of Netflix, Disney+, or Amazon Prime in which the regulator decides how these services promote Canadian content to their subscribers.

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November 3, 2020 24 comments News
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The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 68: Mike Pal on What the Canadian Experience Teaches About the Intersection Between Election Law and the Internet

The world will be focused on the United States this week as the U.S. Presidential election is slated to take place on Tuesday, November 3rd. The role of social media has been in the spotlight in the US for months with calls for regulation, a range of responses from the major companies, and ongoing concerns about the immediate aftermath of the election and fears that their platforms could be weaponized if the winner is in dispute.

Canada had its own national election one year ago and enacted a range of reforms designed to address some of these issues. Mike Pal is a colleague at the University of Ottawa where he specializes in election law. He joins the Law Bytes podcast to discuss the Canadian experience including what changes were made, whether they were effective, what more can be done, and what Canada might teach others about confronting the challenges that lie at the intersection between elections and the Internet.

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November 2, 2020 2 comments Podcasts
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Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault’s “Get Money from Web Giants” Internet Regulation Bill: An Unauthorized Backgrounder

Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault is set to introduce his “Get Money from Web Giants” Internet regulation bill on Monday (update: the bill is on the notice paper, but may be delayed until Tuesday). Based on his previous public comments, the bill is expected to grant the CRTC extensive new powers to regulate Internet-based video streaming services. In particular, expect the government to mandate payments to support Canadian content production for the streaming services and establish new “discoverability” requirements that will require online services to override user preferences by promoting Canadian content. The government is likely to issue a policy direction to the CRTC that identifies its specific priorities, but the much-discussed link licensing requirement for social media companies that Guilbeault has supported will not be part of this legislative package.

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November 1, 2020 12 comments News
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What’s Another Way Supporters of Mandated Facebook Media Payments Promote Their Position? Paid Facebook Advertising

Earlier this week, I posted on the lobbying campaign of News Media Canada, the group representing the major Canadian news media publishers, to call for the creation of a government digital media regulatory agency that would have the power to establish mandated payments for linking to news articles on social media sites, establish what content is prioritized on those sites, and potentially issue fines in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The report inaccurately describes the proposed Australian approach upon which it is modelled, avoids acknowledging that payments would be for links, and would open the door to hundreds of millions on tariff retaliation.

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October 29, 2020 3 comments News
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Where is Canada’s News Media Lobby Promoting Its Link Licensing Plan for Facebook? On Facebook

Last week, News Media Canada, the lobby group representing the major Canadian news media publishers, released a report calling for the creation of a government digital media regulatory agency that would have the power to establish mandated payments for linking to news articles on social media site, establish what content is prioritized on those sites, and potentially issue fines in the hundreds of millions of dollars. As I noted in my review of the report, it inaccurately describes the proposed Australian approach upon which it is modeled, avoids acknowledging that payments would be for links, and would open the door to hundreds of millions on tariff retaliation by the US under the USMCA.

The report was widely covered by the publishers promoting it: the National Post devoted its front page to the report, the other Postmedia papers all found time to cover the release, and the Toronto Star ran multiple articles and opinion pieces on it. In addition to the front page of some newspapers, the papers themselves posted the stories on Facebook, often multiple times. For example, the National Post front page story was posted 11 times by Postmedia papers including posts from the National Post (twice), Calgary Herald, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Edmonton Journal, Windsor Star, London Free Press, Vancouver Sun, Regina Leader-Post, and Saskatchewan StarPhoenix. The National Post also ran a story in the Financial Post on the report which posted on Facebook, a Diane Francis opinion piece on the report which it posted on Facebook, and a story on what happens when a local newspaper dies, which it posted twice on Facebook. In fact, just this morning, there is yet another op-ed in support of the report by Jerry Dias, which appears in both the National Post and Ottawa Citizen, with both immediately posting to Facebook.

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October 27, 2020 8 comments News