Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault has said that his top legislative priority is to “get money from web giants.” That approach has typically been taken to mean the introduction of digital sales taxes and mandated Cancon payments from Internet streaming services such as Netflix. More recently, Guilbeault has raised the possibility of a link tax or licence, which would be paid by companies such as Facebook or Google merely for linking to news articles. If that wasn’t a sufficiently large digital tax agenda, Guilbeault now says the government is also planning new taxes on data and online advertising. Guilbeault told Evan Solomon:
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“Get Money from Web Giants” Grows: Canadian Heritage Minister Guilbeault Says Government Working on a New Data Tax
The LawBytes Podcast, Episode 47: Brewster Kahle, Chris Freeland and Kyle Courtney on the Internet Archive’s National Emergency Library
Communities around the world raced to respond to the coronavirus pandemic last month by shutting down as businesses, schools, and libraries were rendered unavailable seemingly in an instant. One of the effects of the shutdown was that hundreds of millions of books were immediately made inaccessible to students, teachers, and the wider community. The Internet Archive responded with the National Emergency Library, a tweaked version of its Controlled Digital Lending program that brings scanned versions of millions of lawfully acquired books to readers under strict controls.
I’ve been a longstanding board member of Internet Archive Canada and was pleased to be joined on the podcast by Brewster Kahle (founder of Internet Archive), Chris Freeland (Director of Open Libraries at Internet Archive), and Kyle Courtney (lawyer, librarian and the copyright advisor at Harvard University) to talk about the Internet Archive, controlled digital lending, the National Emergency Library, and the copyright implications of recent developments.
As the NAFTA negotiations continue to inch along, one of the remaining contentious issues is the inclusion of a full cultural exception that would largely exclude the Canadian culture industries from the ambit of the agreement. The government has not been shy about speaking out against compromising on culture, noting the perceived risks of provisions that might permit foreign ownership of media organizations. Indeed, the culture issue has attracted considerable attention, with coverage pointing to media ownership rules and simultaneous substitution policies as hot button concerns. Yet as cultural groups cheer on the government’s insistence that cultural policy should be taken off the NAFTA table, the reality is that there remains plenty of room for compromise. This post focuses on three of the biggest issues: foreign ownership, simultaneous substitution, and the TPP culture exceptions.
In June 2016, I appeared at one of the government’s public town hall meetings on the TPP. Alongside then-International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland (now Global Affairs minister), C.D. Howe’s Daniel Schwanen, and Unifor’s Jerry Dias, I had the chance to raise concerns with the TPP’s IP and e-commerce provisions and then hear from dozens of people who raised a wide range of issues. The town hall was part of a broad public consultation that was frequently derided by critics as a stalling tactic, yet the impact of the consultation was felt with yesterday’s announcement of a deal on a slightly re-worked TPP that includes suspension of many of the most controversial IP provisions.
While the NAFTA negotiations in Montreal were expected to be the lead trade story this week, the Trans Pacific Partnership talks in Tokyo have stolen the show with the remaining 11 countries reaching agreement on a deal that is likely to be signed in March. Canada faced intense criticism last year from some TPP partners (particularly Japan and Australia) over its demands to address concerns with the agreement. That sparked some Canadian business groups to quickly call on the government to simply cave in order to conclude a deal. Global Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and International Trade Minister François-Philippe Champagne rightly argued that capitulation is not a negotiating strategy and they now come away with an improved (albeit still flawed) agreement.