The Toronto Star reports that Senator Claude Carignan, a Conservative Senator, plans to introduce a new bill that would amend the Copyright Act to create a new compensation scheme for media organizations by establishing a new collective rights system for the use of news articles on digital platforms. I’ve written extensively about why calls for mandated compensation for linking to news articles on social media sites is an ill-advised policy and how the media organizations themselves are responsible for much of the posting. Heidi Tworek has written about the risks of using IP to address the issue, which she discussed on my Law Bytes podcast (Jeff Elgie of Village Media also appeared on a recent podcast episode to criticize the lobbying campaign for new payments).
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The Copyright Bill That Does Nothing: Senate Bill Proposes Copyright Reform to Support Media Organizations
Canadian media organizations face difficult challenges in an age of virtually unlimited Internet competition, a dramatic shift toward digital advertising, and an unprecedented global economic and health crisis. That has led media groups to urge the federal government to “take on” Google and Facebook by requiring them to fund local media. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has thus far declined to do so. That may spark criticism in some quarters but claims that government-mandated payments from Internet companies will solve the sector’s ills are unconvincing.
My Financial Post op-ed notes that everyone agrees the media sector is more competitive than ever. News organizations such as the New York Times and Washington Post, digital media companies like The Athletic and The Logic, podcasters competing with mainstream media audio offerings and the CBC’s continued digital expansion all offer compelling and competitive news alternatives. This breadth of choice for Canadian news consumers isn’t the fault of Google or Facebook. It is a reflection of low barriers to market entry and a proliferation of services that often do a better job than many established media companies of serving specialized content.
The LawBytes Podcast, Episode 31: Is Canadian Media in a Financial Crisis? – Marc Edge With a Different Take on What the Data Says
Is the Canadian media in a state of financial crisis? Stories on newspaper closures and journalist layoffs have become frustratingly commonplace in recent years, leading to increasingly vocal calls for policy reforms or public funding measures. But Marc Edge, a longtime journalist, editor, and professor at universities around the world, has studied the state of the industry for years and offers a different take. While he is quick to point out the crisis of journalism given cutbacks, he argues that a journalism crisis is not the same as a media crisis. He joins the podcast this week to discuss the historical development of the Canadian media and what the data tells us about the current situation in Canada.
Last week, I appeared before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage as part of its study on the future of media. The committee has heard from dozens of witnesses and one of the surprising themes has been the emphasis on copyright reform as a potential solution to the newspaper industry’s woes. My opening remarks, which are posted below, warn against the reforms, including the prospect of new taxes on Internet services or linking as a source of revenue for the industry. Instead, I point to several potential policies including an ad-free online CBC, sales taxes for digital services, and non-profit funding models for investigative journalism.
The Q & A that followed with me focused primarily on copyright law. The copyright discussion stems from the fact that several earlier witnesses implausibly claimed that it would help solve the problems facing news organizations. For example, Bob Cox of the Canadian Newspaper Association told the committee: