Bill C-18 Supporters Before Google Test: They’re Stealing from Us! Supporters After Test: Not Stealing News is Disrespectful!

Complete and total hypocrisy by Bill C-18 supporters was on full display. After Google tested blocking news links, supporters accused Google of being “Disrespectful”.

The senselessness of Bill C-18 supporters was on full display again recently. For context, Bill C-18 supporters have been either directly saying or indirectly saying that platforms like Google and Facebook have been ‘stealing’ news stories from publishers or the ad revenue from publishers. One common way supporters suggest that Google is basically slurping up whole articles, republishing them, slapping on ads and profiting off of the revenues is through the notorious Big Lie by Big Media. Of course, the media isn’t the only ones lying about bill C-18. Some politicians, like Senator Peter Harder, have also pushed similar false narratives to push Bill C-18.

Regardless, the lie that platforms are stealing from publishers have been basically blasting at the Canadian public at firehose speed, repeated and regurgitated ad-infinitum no matter how trivial it is to debunk it those claims. Quite likely, it is an exercise in testing to see if you say a lie enough times, it becomes true. To be clear, Google News contains no advertising and only has snippets, thumbnails, and links, rather than whole articles. They aren’t copying whole articles, reposting them on their Google News service, slapping ads on them, and hauling money away from ad impressions.

Even if they were, no added legislation is needed because the Copyright Act contains provisions that allow for the rewarding of damages to injured parties. You don’t need a whole new piece of legislation to fix the problem when laws are already in place to address this. If publishers wanted to actually put their money where their mouths are, they would file a copyright infringement lawsuit against Google or Facebook. CBC? Global News? National Post? CTV? Toronto Star? If you are reading this, I absolutely dare you to file a copyright infringement lawsuit against Google or Facebook for copyright infringement. Actually show some spine and file the lawsuit against the platforms claiming that they really are stealing your intellectual property. Put your claims about platforms to the real test and see how much fun you have in discovery.

Of course, they never will because they are not being truthful about Google and Facebook with respect to Bill C-18 and they know it. How do I know this for sure? Simple. As we noted, Google began testing the blocking of news links in Canada. Now, let’s assume that what the media outlets said was true about Bill C-18 for a moment (I know, it’s an absurd stretch, but let’s just go along with this one for now). Here’s these big bad mean platforms hosting pirated versions of your news articles. In response to legal pressure, the big bad mean platforms said that they are scrubbing all of your intellectual property from their servers and services. What should be your reaction?

The simple answer is this: a victory celebration. The theft has finally stopped! No more intellectual property crimes! The copyright infringement has stopped! Pop the champagne! We won the battle! A round of drinks for everyone! Let’s hope the test is successful and the removal of all pirated works becomes a thing on these platforms! Where’s the confetti? Throw the confetti around! We won!

As you can tell by that exaggerated description, that didn’t happen. How did supporters actually react when Google announced the blocking of news articles? As we noted, Heritage Minister, Pablo Rodriguez decried Google’s actions and incomprehensibly said that Canadian’s won’t be “intimidated”. Intimidated by what, exactly? That’ll probably forever remain a mystery.

Another rich reaction came from various lobby groups representing big corporations in Canada. In the National Post, they wrote that Google is being ‘disrespectful’ to Canadians. The excerpts really need to be read to be believed:

Advocates for the print and digital media industry say Google is disrespecting Canadian readers by temporarily blocking news to some of its users.

News Media Canada president Paul Deegan says the action is unbecoming of the leading global company.

FRIENDS, formerly known as Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, says the move by Google is about greed.

Its executive director Marla Boltman says Google is pursuing money at all costs, rather than co-operating with lawmakers around the world to support and sustain the free press and democracy.

The amount of pure stupidity in these two excerpts alone is so astonishing, it renders you speechless. These organizations have long complained that platforms like Google are stealing from them. Google just announced a test that basically gives these lobbyists everything they asked for, and the lobby groups are mad and calling Google disrespectful and greedy. On what planet is refusing to host links to your services after you complained about these services hosting links to your services “about greed”? Seriously, are these lobby groups even reading what they are publishing or are they too busy huffing their own propaganda to realize how idiotic they sound these days?

So, let’s just stop pretending to believe what they are saying is true and deduce what is really going on. The big publishing outlets wanted to shake down Google and Facebook for money. They got too into themselves thinking that their own news articles are so high production value that everyone across the country is only focused in on what they write, not realizing that the value they have been producing has, at minimum, been shrinking for well over two decades now. With this false image in their head that the world revolves around them, they thought that the only reason that platforms are successful is because they were linking to them and getting the traffic (rather than the platforms being successful and sharing that wealth of success with the publishers).

As a result, they spent months and truckloads of money lobbying the government to force platforms to pay for the privilege of utilizing what is so obviously fair dealing activity. Their over-inflated ego’s dictated that Google and Facebook would never drop support for their services because they depend on their services to keep afloat, not what goes on in the real world where the opposite is actually true. After running a two year long propaganda campaign, thinking that readers of all ages were too stupid to understand how the internet works, they thought that they could get all of Canada behind them for their cause because who uses the internet anyway? Readers won’t notice the difference, right?

When the platforms warned Canada that they would actually consider blocking news links, the media companies kidded themselves into believing that what happened in Australia would happen in Canada, the details of both cases were completely unimportant. When Google finally announced that they were testing a system to block news links, you panicked. All that ego telling you that the world revolved around you suddenly started to evaporate. All those lies you told yourself and others about how the platforms solely depended on your content rather than literally every other forms of content out there were suddenly on grounds so shaky, even you can’t ignore the weaknesses.

Now you, the media, are panicking. Your first salvo is to simply launch personal attacks against the platforms that you put yourself into. Yet, behind that bravado, you know, deep down, that platforms really do hold all the cards in this debate. They pull their services or block links to your site, outside of making noise, there is jack all you can do about it. They are a private company and any legal manoeuvres to compel them to carry links to your services would eventually get knocked down in court as unconstitutional. You decided to manipulate the Canadian government to screw around, and now that you have the smallest taste of finding out, you realize just how few options you truly have in this stupid fight that you decided to start.

All those dreams about repeating what happened in Australia, however much of a fluke it was, is now no longer so certain. Rather than the outcome that happened in Australia, publishers now face the real possibility that the outcome could actually be what happened in the early days in Spain. Not such a pretty picture, is it? If this outcome ends with Google and Facebook blocking news links, Big Publishing will only have itself to blame for it.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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