Telecom and broadcast policy figured prominently in season one of the Law Bytes podcast. With Canada currently studying potential reforms and cultural issues emerging as a possible electoral issue, there are no shortage of issues worth of discussion. Given its role as a telecom and broadcast regulator, the CRTC was the subject of several episodes: Monica Auer of FRPC talked about her extensive access to information work on the CRTC, while former CRTC Commissioner Peter Menzies joined the podcast to help sort through Cancon funding, Internet regulation, and the role of the Commission.
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The LawBytes Podcast, Episode 19: Canada’s Quiet Success Story – Irene Berkowitz on the Canadian YouTube Creative Sector
Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez recently appeared to pre-empt the government’s broadcast and telecommunications legislative review panel in his response to the panel’s interim report. Rodriguez indicated that the government will move to mandate new contributions and Cancon requirements for online services regardless of what the panel recommends. New creators leveraging online platforms don’t typically participate in government consultations, but that doesn’t mean their voice and experience should be ignored. Ryerson’s Irene Berkowitz recently released Watchtime Canada, a report on the role YouTube plays in fostering opportunities for creators. The study found an eco-system that provides thousands of Canadians with full-time employment opportunities and export strategies that outshine the traditional creative sector. She joins me on the podcast this week to discuss the report and what it might mean for Canadian cultural policy.
Miranda Mulholland, a Toronto-based musician and music label owner, delivered an exceptionally passionate, accessible, and deeply personal keynote speech last week to the Economic Club of Canada. Mulholland’s talk was notable not only for providing an artist’s perspective, but for coming ready with next steps for everyone. She urged artists to create and protect their intellectual property, consumers to create playlists, write reviews, go to shows, and subscribe to digital music services, the music industry to be upfront about payment, to better support artists (including providing daycare services), and to pay for tickets to their own artists (Kate Taylor offered her take on the talk here, which includes an incredible comment from Music Canada that it wants only a level playing field, not public money. Music Canada has spent the last few years successfully lobbying for tens of millions in taxpayer support from provincial governments).
Given the active support from Music Canada for the event, her recommendations for policy makers were a core part of her message and largely mirror those of the industry. Unlike the 2010-2012 copyright reform process, piracy is no longer a key issue. Indeed, the issue of peer-to-peer file sharing and unauthorized downloading was not even mentioned in the speech. With the Canadian digital music market enjoying remarkable growth – Canada leaped ahead of Australia last year to become the 6th largest music market in the world and SOCAN generated record revenues – the industry focus is no longer on whether the public is paying for music (they are) but whether they are paying enough.
In February 2007, Stephanie Lenz, a California mother of a pair of young toddlers, shot a short video of her children dancing in the family kitchen with the Prince song “Let’s Go Crazy” playing in the background. Lenz proceeded to upload the 29 second video to YouTube so that friends and family could see it.
Thousands of hours of user-generated video are posted online every day and there was nothing particularly remarkable about the dancing baby video. What set it apart, however, was that several months later Universal Music Group, Prince’s music label, sent a takedown notice to YouTube claiming that it infringed its copyright.
My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes that similar takedown notices are sent to Internet intermediaries such as Google every hour. Yet this particular takedown demand seemed so at odds with the law (few experts believe it infringes copyright) that it sparked an eight year court battle in the United States and served as the inspiration for a 2012 Canadian copyright reform that protects users and websites that create and host non-commercial user-generated content.