Fair Dealing by Giulia Forsythe (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/dRkXwP

Fair Dealing by Giulia Forsythe (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/dRkXwP

Copyright

YT Music app icon on smartphone screen by Ivan Radic https://flic.kr/p/2m1K5Zz (CC BY 2.0)

Scoping User Content Out of Bill C-11: Senate Committee Makes Much-Needed Change, But Will the Government Accept It?

The widespread concern over Bill C-11 has largely focused on the potential CRTC regulation of user content. Despite repeated assurances from the government that “users are out, platforms are in”, the reality is that the bill kept the door open to regulating such content. The language in the bill is clear: Section 4.2 grants the CRTC the power to establish regulations on programs (which includes audio and audiovisual content by users). The provision identifies three considerations for the Commission, most notably if the program “directly or indirectly generates revenues.” The revenue generation provision is what led many digital creators to argue they were caught by the bill and for TikTok to conclude that any video with music would also fall within the ambit of the legislation.

The Senate Standing Committee on Transport and Communications, which has conducted months of hearings on Bill C-11, was clearly convinced that the user content issue needed to be addressed. Last night (hours after the ill-advised addition of age verification to the bill), it agreed on an amendment that, with two key caveats, goes a long way to scoping out user content regulation.

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December 7, 2022 7 comments News
Age Verification Station by Nock Forager (CC BY-NC 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/4H67D7

From Bad to Worse: Senate Committee Adds Age Verification Requirement for Online Undertakings to Bill C-11

The Senate committee studying Bill C-11 has ramped up the hours devoted to clause-by-clause review with amendments related to user generated content currently up for debate. However, earlier today, just prior to addressing the user content issue, the committee shockingly adopted an amendment that adds age verification for online undertakings to the Broadcasting Act. The amendment comes as a policy objective, meaning that it will fall to the CRTC to determine how to implement it. The implications are enormous since broadly defined the policy would require every online service that transmits or retransmits programs over the Internet (broadly defined to include all audio and audiovisual content) to establish age verification requirements to prevent child access to programs with explicit sexual activity. If the CRTC implements, the policy will surely be challenged as unconstitutional.

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December 6, 2022 14 comments News
USTR and Canada Readouts, November 30, 2022, https://ustr.gov/about-us/policy-offices/press-office/press-releases/2022/november/readout-ambassador-katherine-tais-meeting-canadas-minister-international-trade-export-promotion, https://www.canada.ca/en/global-affairs/news/2022/11/minister-ng-meets-united-states-trade-representative-katherine-tai.html

A Tale of Two Readouts: U.S. Escalates Trade Concerns With Canadian Digital Policy as Canada Seeks To Downplay the Issue

Canadian International Trade Minister Mary Ng and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai met yesterday to discuss Canada-U.S. Trade issues and concerns regarding Canada’s digital policy – most notably a proposed digital sales tax and Bills C-11 and C-18 – continue to mount. The U.S. raised digital policy concern over the summer, specifically citing Bill C-11 with a reference to “pending legislation in the Canadian Parliament that could impact digital streaming services.” The latest readout suggests that the concerns are growing, as the U.S. now cites both Bills C-11 and C-18 by raising “pending legislation in the Canadian Parliament that could impact digital streaming services and online news sharing and discriminate against U.S. businesses.”

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December 1, 2022 3 comments News
freedom of expression is your right by Rachel Hinman https://flic.kr/p/6J5ATQ (CC BY 2.0)

Freedom of Expression for a Price: Government Confirms Bill C-18 Requires Platform Payment for User Posts That Include News Quotes and Hyperlinks

The longstanding debate over whether Bill C-18, the Online News Act, requires payment for linking came to an end yesterday. Government officials admitted that even basic quotes from news articles that include a hyperlink to the original source would scope user posts into the law and require platforms such as Google and Facebook to negotiate payment for the links. As noted below, even that position may understate the impact of the bill, which appears to also cover a user post of a news quote without a link. In other words, merely quoting a few sentences from a news article on an Internet platform is treated as making news content available, which triggers a requirement for the platforms to negotiate payment. This position runs counter to Canada’s copyright obligations under the Berne Convention and has no place in a country committed to freedom of expression. 

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November 30, 2022 7 comments News
One Billion Dollars by Matt Brown https://flic.kr/p/pq2SsN (CC BY 2.0)

No Billion Dollar Bonus: Officials Admit Most Bill C-11 Funding Isn’t New and Will Still Be Controlled by Foreign Streamers

Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez and department officials appeared before the Senate Committee on Transport and Communications yesterday on Bill C-11. I posted a Substack of my live tweeting of the Minister’s appearance, which included continued gaslighting on the applicability of the bill to user content and an acknowledgement that it could lead to algorithmic manipulation. After Rodriguez departed, officials took questions for another hour. One of the most notable exchanges involved the express admission that the much-touted estimate that the bill would generate a billion dollars is massively overstated. In fact, department officials now admit that most of that money isn’t new at all. Rather (much as I’ve argued), it is simply a re-allocation of existing expenditures in Canada that is unlikely to result in significant increased economic activity or new jobs.

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November 23, 2022 2 comments News