For more than a year, Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez has clung to the Bill C-11 mantra of “platforms in, users out”. When presented with clear evidence from thousands of digital creators, the former chair of the CRTC, and numerous experts that that wasn’t true, the Senate passed compromise language to ensure that platforms such as Youtube would be caught by the legislation consistent with the government’s stated objective, but that user content would not. Last night, Rodriguez rejected the compromise amendment, turning his back on digital creators and a Senate process lauded as one of the most comprehensive ever. In doing so, he has left no doubt about the government’s true intent with Bill C-11: retain power and flexibility to regulate user content.
Government Rejection of Key Senate Bill C-11 Amendment Reveals Its True Intent: Retain Power to Regulate User Content
A Tax on Freedom Of Expression: Report Suggests Bill C-18 Could Be Expanded Even Beyond Mandated Payment for Links
Google was scheduled to appear before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage yesterday to discuss Bill C-18 and its test of the removal of links to Canadian news services for a small percentage of its users, but the meeting was postponed due to technical difficulties. That ensured that the big Bill C-18 news of the day did not come from the hearing, but rather from an exceptional Ricochet Media article featuring comments from Senator Paula Simons that should heighten concern about the government’s intent with Bill C-18. Senator Simons, a longtime journalist and Trudeau appointee to the Senate, raises many concerns with the bill (and a great line that “honest to god, I feel that this is written by people who have never used the Internet”), but I think this is the key passage, which opens the door to targets beyond Google and Facebook:
Then there’s the question of what would happen down the road if Google and Facebook were no longer profitable? Simons told Ricochet that when she raised that question with staff in the Heritage ministry, she was told they “would turn to TikTok.”“I said, ‘Wait a minute! TikTok doesn’t share news links,’” Simons recalled. “And staff said, ‘TikTok shares news stories in other ways. It talks about the news.’ I said, ‘Woah, wait a minute! That’s a fair-use argument.’…Then the official said to me, ‘Lots of Canadians get their news from TikTok.’” But, she pointed out, if a content creator on TikTok talks about something they read, that’s not the same as actually sharing a news story.
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 158: In Their Own Words – Ministers, MPs, Senators and Government Officials on Bill C-18
Bill C-18, the Online News Act, has been at the centre of growing firestorm in Canada following reports that Google has begun testing the removal of links to Canadian news services for a small percentage of its users. The issue is headed to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage later today with MPs likely to take turns berating Google executives. If you’re just catching up or don’t understand what the fuss is about, this Law Bytes podcast is for you. While the government tries to spin the bill as a big win for media of all sizes without concerns for the Internet, the reality is far different. But you don’t have to take my word for it. This podcast episode features clips of what Ministers, MPs, Senators, and government officials have already said at committee or in the Senate about the bill.
Canadian Copyright, Fair Dealing and Education, Part Six: A Fair Reading of Fair Dealing
My Fair Dealing Week series of posts on Canadian copyright, fair dealing, and education concludes with a few thoughts on the role of fair dealing within Canadian universities and colleges. Copyright lobby groups have spent years perpetuating multiple myths, including the false notion that today’s fair dealing policies are largely a function of 2012 reforms (they actually stem chiefly from two decades of Supreme Court jurisprudence) and that fair dealing has resulted in universities refusing to licence content (prior posts have covered this disinformation, citing the millions spent on site licensing, transactional licensing , the disappearance of course packs, and the growth of open textbooks).
Bill C-18, Google and Mandated Payments for Links: My Appearance on CBC’s Power and Politics
As the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage summoned Google to appear next week before committee (and implausibly provide all internal documentation related to Bill C-18 by tomorrow), media coverage of the bill and Google’s response has intensified. I was pleased to appear on CBC’s Power and Politics to discuss the the bill, Google’s response, and the implications of mandated payments for links that the government expects could fund 35% of news expenditures in all news outlets in Canada.