Bill C-11 Supporting MP’s Don’t Even Know How Creators Would Benefit

The failures of Bill C-11 is reaching critical proportions. When asked, MPs supporting the bill didn’t know how creators would benefit.

Back in early February, Bill C-11, the social media censorship bill (officially titled the “Online Streaming Act”) was tabled. The legislation was previously known as Bill C-10 in the last government. The speech concerns alone would warrant a court challenge to the law on constitutional grounds. Experts agreed with our general assessments and said that large portions of human speech would get sucked in to heavy regulation. Still, Heritage Minister, Pablo Rodriguez, seems focused on just getting the legislation passed.

While the censorship issues are massive, but there are other aspects of this legislation that warranted debate. One focus is on how the legislation mandates payments being made by the larger platforms. Generally speaking, the money seemed intended to go to the larger multinational corporations who happen to have operations in Canada. This was brought up back in July of last year and the easy answer is that, at the time, Bill C-10, only really benefits the larger players and leaves everyone else out in the cold. What’s more is that the question was pretty naive, even back then.

Curiously, though, the question cropped up during debate surrounding Bill C-11. The question was raised by a member of the NDP. From the debate transcript:

Mr. Matthew Green (Hamilton Centre, NDP):
Madam Speaker, in my lifetime I have watched a dramatic shift in the media landscape, from local newspapers to the conglomeration of these multinationals. We have gone through from Web 2.0 to Web 3.0.
Has the government made consideration for the shift in the distributed model of user-created content? I will give an example. For instance, we have a company like TikTok, which provides content creator funds everywhere else, but not in Canada.
How are we going to ensure that the individual creators who are Canadians and who are creating content are adequately compensated, and not create a situation where the fund just goes to the multinational conglomerates that have completely captured our traditional media?

With setting aside the many censorship problems, this is actually a fair question. Of course, based on our knowledge, the legislation’s only focus is to get money from the large tech giants and distribute it to the larger publishers. This really has always been the case as far as we know and nothing about that has really changed with the changeover to Bill C-11. As it turns out, the Liberals supporting Bill C-11 were seemingly looking at each other in confusion and an MP ended up standing up and responding with this:

Mr. Mark Gerretsen:
Madam Speaker, the member raises an excellent point. I will be the first to say I do not have an answer to that. I certainly hope that the committee will look into this issue at that stage.
If what the member is suggesting goes beyond just this piece of legislation, then that is something we need to tackle because it is absolutely detrimental to Canadian culture and Canadian identity, and we need to continue to make sure that the proper funds are available for product and content that is made in Canada.

(hat tip: @mgeist)

Probably the only surprise here is that the MP was actually very honest with the response. When one takes into account that the focus has been exclusively taking cash from the platforms and giving it to the large publishers, actually studying how the Internet works and what actually goes on takes a back seat. Even worse, back in June of last year, Google raised the concerns over what impact actual creators would experience with Bill C-10. So, it’s not as though this hasn’t been raised before in this debate.

The fact of the matter is that it looks like these questions were largely ignored – whether from the podcasters in the CBC article or Google. When it was asked again more recently, bill C-11 supporters seemed blindsided by the question. Had this process been properly looked at, this shouldn’t be a hard question to answer by this stage. The Liberals should have looked at how creators interact with the platforms they operate on, weighed how algorithms worked, how their content gets recommended, and the varying degrees of success they experience, and acted accordingly.

It’s plain as day that, even after years of debate and hard questions being asked, this wasn’t looked in to. After all of this time, we still are not aware of any signs that creators were actually consulted, listened to, or even considered in this debate. It’s a level of carelessness that ultimately screams that this legislation should, at minimum, be taken back to the drawing board. The only considerations that seemed to be taken was whether the big players are happy with the bill while everyone else is largely ignored. By that nature, only a tiny slice of the work to prepare this legislation was ever done – as such, it shouldn’t pass in its current form.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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