For the past two years, the prospect of creating a Netflix tax or Internet tax has been the digital policy issue that would not die in Canada. The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage called for an Internet tax last June, the province of Quebec remains anxious to pay digital sales taxes (there is nothing stopping them from doing so now), and many creator groups continue to the call for mandated contributions on Netflix to “level the playing the field” (the level playing field argument is misleading). The uncertainty surrounding Netflix and ISP taxes has not been helped by the reopening of the issue at the CRTC after the release of the government’s digital Cancon strategy and Canadian Heritage Minister Melanie Joly’s occasionally leaving the door open to the possibility.
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Last week, I appeared before the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs as part of its study on the impact and utilization of culture and arts in foreign policy and diplomacy. I was asked to consider the impact of Canadian copyright in foreign diplomacy, leading to an interesting and engaging discussion that touched on everything from the changes to the IP provisions in the TPP to the legality of streaming services. My opening remarks, which emphasized the potential for Canada to engage in copyright diplomacy by serving as model for other countries, is posted below.
The Canadian government launched its much-anticipated copyright review last week, asking the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology to conduct a study on the issue that is likely to run for much of 2018. My Globe and Mail op-ed notes that while the timelines suggest that major changes will have to wait until after the next election, the report will be the foundation for future reforms to Canadian copyright law.
The instruction letter to the committee from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains and Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly points to the challenges of copyright, which invariably engages a wide range of stakeholders with differing perspectives.
Fostering a Vibrant Canadian Programming Market: My CRTC Submission Focusing on Net Neutrality and Rejecting New Taxes, Fees or Content Blocking
Last month I posted on the responses to the CRTC’s consultation on the future of Canadian programming, which yielded over 200 submissions that envision extensive Internet regulation and taxation. The CRTC has published a reference document for the second stage of its consultation that runs until January 31, 2018. My full submission for the first stage of the consultation can be found here.
Framing the Copyright Review: Bains and Joly Reference the Public Domain, Flexibility, Open Access and Limits of the Law
The government launched its copyright review earlier this week with a Parliamentary motion to send the review to the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology. I wrote a preview of some of the likely issues, noting the efforts of lobby groups to restrict fair dealing, extend the term of copyright, and target intermediary liability. Yet the letter from Ministers Navdeep Bains and Melanie Joly to committee chair Dan Ruimy, which should be posted online shortly, confirms that the government appreciates the competing perspectives on copyright and the limits of what the law can (or should) do.