The government has yet to release its final regulations for the Online News Act, but recent comments from News Media Canada seemed to suggest that it is hoping to find common ground with Google, stating that it supports the company’s proposed amendments to Bill C-18 draft regulations. While that may be a long shot – I posted that Google’s call for legislative changes signals that it has arrived at the conclusion that regulations alone cannot fix the foundational flaws in the law – the Canadian Association of Broadcasters has created yet another complication. The lobby group representing private broadcasters such as Bell and Rogers isn’t looking to find a compromise position. Instead, its submission indicates that wants all broadcasters (which given the law would include the CBC) to get an even bigger portion of the potential Bill C-18 revenues by expanding the definition of “journalist” to include everyone from sound and video engineers to researchers and fact checkers. The expansive definition prioritizes many broadcasting jobs, which would mean conventional newspaper services likely would get even less than the current estimate of 25% of revenues.
The Broadcasters’ Online News Act Submission: Demanding An Even Bigger Piece of the Bill C-18 Pie for Bell, Rogers and the CBC
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 180: Victoria Owen Sets the Record Straight on the State of Canadian Copyright Law and Content Licensing By Libraries and Educational Institutions
Since the Canadian copyright law reforms in 2012, education and libraries have increased spending on licensing and a non-partisan House of Commons study found no need to create new restriction on education and library copying rights. Yet with misinformation flooding the copyright debate, the Canadian Federation of Library Associations recently spoke out in an effort to set the record straight. Victoria Owen, a leading expert on copyright and libraries, is the chair of the CFLA copyright committee. She joins the Law Bytes podcast to discuss the CFLA statement and copyright law in Canada.
Regulations Alone Can’t Fix Bill C-18: Why News Media Canada’s “Surrender” May Not Be Enough to Stop Google From Blocking News Links in Canada
After months of urging Heritage Ministers Pascale St-Onge and Pablo Rodriguez to stand up to Google and Meta’s response to Bill C-18, News Media Canada – the lead lobbyist for the legislation – appears to have waved the surrender flag as it is now urging the government to accommodate Google’s concerns with draft regulations. The shift in approach unquestionably marks a retreat for the group, which literally drafted a version of the bill for the government and wielded the power of major media outlets to skew national coverage in favour of the legislation. While it insisted that the companies were bluffing when they said they would block news links if a mandated payments for links approach were adopted, it is now readily apparent that they were mistaken. Meta has blocked news links on its Facebook and Instagram platforms for more than two months and shows no sign of changing its approach. Given that Google appears to be moving in the same direction, News Media Canada’s decision to toss the government under the bus reeks of desperation as its members recognize that blocked news links on both Meta and Google would create enormous harm in lost traffic, cancelled deals, and an Online News Act that generates no revenues.
The temperature over the government’s Internet legislation has increased this week as many Canadians wake up to the consequences of Bills C-11 and C-18. CRTC regulations on mandated registration requirements arising from the Online Streaming Act and the possibility that Google will follow Meta’s lead and remove news links for search results in Canada due to the Online News Act have placed the spotlight on harmful effects of the government’s approach. In response, Canadian Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge has become more vocal on both social media and mainstream media in defence of the government’s approach. Unfortunately, her comments included repeated errors (suggesting that independent media has not reached any deals with Internet platforms which is not remotely accurate), maligned digital creators (saying that Bill C-11 wasn’t about them), were contradicted by the CRTC, or featured outright misinformation. I posted a pair of threads fact-checking the Minister, which are posted below. There can obviously be different views on the Internet regulation, but the Minister ought to know her file and stick to the facts.