The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage opened its clause-by-clause review of Bill C-18 on Friday with some extensive questions about the scope of coverage of the bill and the opportunity to vote on several amendments. The meeting finally provided the chance to ask department officials for their views on key questions, including whether the government believes that services such as Reddit and Twitter are caught by the law (the answer was yes they are digital news intermediaries, but may not be sufficiently dominant to be required to negotiate mandate payments). The most important moment in the hearing came toward the end, when Conservative MP Rachael Thomas moved an amendment to exclude links from the scope of the definition of news content. That approach would still ensure that news publishers are covered for uses of their work such as republication (which is precisely what most would envision) but safeguard the foundation of the free flow of information on the Internet.
Post Tagged with: "c-18"
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 146: Axel Bruns on What the Australian Experience Teaches About the Prospect of Facebook Blocking News Sharing in Response to Bill C-18
As Bill C-18 heads to clause-by-clause review later this week, the prospect that Facebook could block news sharing on its platform in Canada in response has attracted the ire of politicians and concerns from media outlets that rely on social media as part of their business model. But is this a bluff or, having just laid off 11,000 employees, an accurate reflection of where the company stands on the value of news on its platform given current economic realities?
Axel Bruns is a Professor of Communication and Media Studies at QUT Digital Media Research Centre, Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, who has written about the Australian News Media Bargaining Code and the effects of the Facebook news sharing blocking in 2021. He joins the Law Bytes podcast to discuss the Australian experience in an effort to answer the question of whether Facebook is bluffing or if news sharing on the platform in Canada is placed at risk should Bill C-18 become law.
Last week, I appeared before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage as part of the last panel of witnesses on Bill C-18, the Online News Act. For the first time since the start of the pandemic I attended in person, which provided the opportunity to witness a scene that partly occurred off-camera. NDP MP Peter Julian started his questioning by citing with approval a Postmedia editorial, itself based on a Brian Lilley column. The editorial expressed support for Bill C-18, criticized Facebook, and took the Conservatives to task for not being more supportive of the proposed legislation. Seeing an NDP MP rely on a Lilley-inspired Postmedia editorial was strange enough, but adding to the weirdness was Liberal MP Lisa Hepfner scrambling to find the editorial on her phone and showing it around to caucus colleagues. While some might merely chalk this up to a common enemy – Facebook – I believe there is a bigger enemy at work, namely the loss of an independent press.
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 145: Why Bill C-18’s Mandated Payments for Links is a Threat to Freedom of Expression in Canada – My Appearance Before the Heritage Committee
The hearings on the Online News Act – Bill C-18 – wrapped up last week with a final session in which I had the unexpected opportunity to appear and again raise concerns with the bill. My focus this time was on how the bill mandates payments for links and why that approach is a threat to freedom of expression in Canada. This week’s Law Bytes podcast takes you inside the hearing room as it features my opening statement and clips from exchanges with MPs from several parties that touched on everything from innovation to copyright reform to the rules for final offer arbitration. My full opening statement is posted below.