Dismantling the Big Lie Canadian Media Outlets Use to Sell Bill C-18

Big Publishing in Canada commonly uses the big lie to sell Bill C-18. We take this lie head on and prove why you can’t trust it.

Canadian media is lying to you when it comes to Bill C-18. These lies have been numerous, sophisticated, intentional, and coordinated for the better part of two years. While some of these lies vary, many efforts used to mislead Canadians is often couched in the big lie at the top of articles. The examples are countless and too many to list, but one such example was recently published on the CBC:

Bill C-18 is designed to require web giants to compensate journalism publications for reposting their content.

This is the big Canadian media’s big lie laid bare. Absolutely nothing about this is truthful. It is this lie that has caused significant harm to the credibility of Canadian news today. The message the media is sending by knowingly publishing this false statement is that they will chuck all journalistic integrity in the trash in favour of what they consider what is in their business interests. It’s problematic because readers have to ask themselves if articles published by media outlets are crafted to suit their business interests or if it’s factual journalism.

Exploring the Big Lie on the Face of It

So, let’s begin by simply taking the Big Lie at face value. Let’s assume that it is accurate that platforms are, in fact, copying news articles and republishing it without permission. What is problematic about this? Well, it’s problematic because current Canadian law already covers such activity. This is known as the Copyright Act. Looking at Section 27 of the Copyright Act makes it clear that distribution without permission is an act of copyright infringement:

Infringement generally

27 (1) It is an infringement of copyright for any person to do, without the consent of the owner of the copyright, anything that by this Act only the owner of the copyright has the right to do.

Marginal note:Secondary infringement

(2) It is an infringement of copyright for any person to

(a) sell or rent out,

(b) distribute to such an extent as to affect prejudicially the owner of the copyright,

(c) by way of trade distribute, expose or offer for sale or rental, or exhibit in public,

(d) possess for the purpose of doing anything referred to in paragraphs (a) to (c), or

(e) import into Canada for the purpose of doing anything referred to in paragraphs (a) to (c),

a copy of a work, sound recording or fixation of a performer’s performance or of a communication signal that the person knows or should have known infringes copyright or would infringe copyright if it had been made in Canada by the person who made it.

So, if platforms are republishing whole articles without a news organizations permission, are they entitled to remedies? The Copyright Act also covers this in Section 34:


34 (1) Where copyright has been infringed, the owner of the copyright is, subject to this Act, entitled to all remedies by way of injunction, damages, accounts, delivery up and otherwise that are or may be conferred by law for the infringement of a right.

So, the media outlets are fully within their rights, in this situation they clearly imagined, to litigate the platforms if what they are accusing the platforms are doing is accurate. Moving forward with Bill C-18 is not required at all. If media outlets are upset that platforms are republishing their works in whole without permission, file a lawsuit. It really is that simple. No need to pay teams of lobbyists to run to parliament hill and push for this bill. It would be cheaper that way.

Of course, some might argue that many of these platforms operate in the US. While in many circumstances, operating in another country tends to limit an owners options, the big platforms more often then not operate in the US. This actually expands the number of options for the publishers in question. As a result of these platforms operating in the US, the platforms have to abide by American copyright law which includes the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act). If content is infringing on an owner of a copyrighted work, then they can also send a DMCA takedown notice. From DMCA.com:

A DMCA Takedown is when content is removed from a website or internet platform at the request of the owner of the content. The DMCA Takedown is a well established and accepted internet standard followed by website owners and internet service providers everywhere.

Your right to process. Any owner of content has the right to process a takedown notice against a website owner and/or an Online Service Provider (e.g. ISP, hosting company etc.) if the content owner’s property is found online without their permission.

The truth in the matter is the fact that platforms like Facebook and Twitter have a DMCA takedown system in place. If infringing material is found on the platform, then it’s very straight forward to issue a takedown notice to these platforms and, chances are, the platform will comply. If the publisher has a clear cut and dry case and the platform doesn’t comply, then it’s a trivial matter to take the platforms to court. In this case, a class action would probably be a viable option given that a whole class of publishers would theoretically be affected by such activity. This, alone, really should end the debate.

Platforms are Not the Ones Republishing News Articles

Of course, the further you dive into this, the more the truth absolutely eviscerates the the Big Lie by the big Canadian media news outlets. The Big Lie also suggests that it’s the platforms themselves that are posting these articles without permission. This is actually far from the truth. Take for instance, Facebook. In fact, it’s the media outlets themselves who are voluntarily posting these articles. Here are some screenshots to prove this. First, the CBC:

The Toronto Star:


The Globe and Mail:

Global News:

There is a lot of takeaways you can get out of these screen shots. The most important aspect out of all of these is the fact that it’s the media companies themselves that are making these posts. Each of them has an account. Each of them willfully posted all of this themselves. It implies that the platforms have full permission to display these posts. Otherwise, why are the outlets themselves making these posts themselves if they are supposedly so upset that their content is being shared on social media?

Whole Articles are Not Being Published

Another takeaway in these screenshots is the fact that whole articles are not being republished. If anything, all that’s being posted are links, a snippet, a thumbnail, and the source it originates from. This rings true for other platforms like Twitter as well.

The CBC:

The Toronto Star:


The Globe and Mail:

Global News:

The truth in the matter is that even if these articles were not posted by these large media outlets, it would still be legal. This is because of what Canada has known as Fair Dealing. Fair Dealing allows limited use of copyrighted works without the owners permission. From Fair-Dealing.ca:

Fair dealing is for everyone. You probably make use of fair dealing every day without even realizing it, whether emailing a news article to a friend, using a clip from a song, using a copyrighted image on social media, or quoting passages from a book when writing an essay. Activities such as these are not considered to be copyright infringement – in fact, the ability for users to make copies for specific purposes is an integral part of the Canadian Copyright Act (see Section 29).

The Canadian Copyright Act allows the use of material from a copyright protected work (literature, musical scores, audiovisual works, etc.) without permission when certain conditions are met. People can use fair dealing for research, private study, education, parody, satire, criticism, review, and news reporting. In order to ensure your copying is fair, you need to consider several factors such as the amount you are copying, whether you are distributing the copy to others, and whether your copying might have a detrimental effect on potential sales of the original work (see paragraph 53 of the Supreme Court of Canada decision in CCH Canadian Ltd. v. Law Society of Upper Canada for the complete list of factors).

So, if other users share links as seen in the above screen shots, such activity would actually be perfectly legal.

Aggregators Also Follow This Standard Typically Without Generating Revenue

Aggregators help automate the process of the sharing of links. However, they also very much follow these basic copyright laws.

The CBC:


The Globe and Mail:

Global News:

Another aspect worth pointing out here is the complete lack of advertising displayed on such pages. Without advertising, how are companies directly profiting off of the sharing of news in the first place? Simply put, they aren’t. It’s a big reason why many big publishers so often decry that platforms are making money off of them, but never back that up with any evidence. It’s a straight up lie.

One lingering question some might have is this: how do news articles end up on Google News? The answer is simply that the publishers themselves submit those articles to Google in the first place. From Google Support:

Things to consider

  • A feed or a URL you submit in Publisher Center isn’t guaranteed to surface or rank in Google News.
  • To display your content on Google News, it must follow Search and News policies. Google may block violating content when automated checks are done after submission.
  • If you operate a site in multiple languages, do not automatically redirect site visitors to different language versions. Learn more about how to manage multi-regional and multilingual sites.

That’s right: publishers have willingly submitted their RSS feeds in the hopes of being displayed on Google News. This isn’t taken and published on Google, but rather, Google was asked by publishers to please display their articles on their aggregator.

Publishers Beg Their Readers to Share Their Content on Platforms

While the Big Lie decries the sharing of their articles on platforms, the truth in the matter is the fact that publishers are actually begging their readers to share their articles on many of these platforms. This is done by displaying simple buttons that allows users to click and share said articles directly in the articles they publish themselves:

The CBC:

The Toronto Star:


The Globe and Mail:

Global News:

The truth in the matter is that sharing is not only common practice, but is openly encouraged by the big news outlets themselves in each and every article that they publish. To decry turn around and decry the sharing of news articles is blatant hypocrisy.

Tools for Publishers to Share News Articles is Common and Publishers Actually Pay Them to Share Articles on Platforms

What is common practice beyond begging readers to share news articles is the prevalence of tools designed to make the process of sharing news articles easier and more automated. One common tool for this is JetPack, a plugin designed to, among other things, share news articles the moment the publish button is hit. From JetPack:

Grow your audience effortlessly

Jetpack’s growth tools help you find new visitors, turn leads into customers, and customers into advocates.

  • Auto-share post and pages to social media on your schedule with Jetpack Social
  • Find new fans by promoting your posts and pages across millions of sites with the Blaze ad network
  • Native WordPress CRM to convert your leads and create repeat customers with Jetpack CRM
  • Free advanced WordPress site stats with Jetpack Stats

Not only are such tools available, but publishing companies actually pay money for such tools in the first place. What’s more is that JetPack is widely and commonly installed as well, boasting over 5 million active installs.

Obviously, JetPack is far from the only plugin to offer such functionality. There is a wide range of plugin’s available for publishers to install and use as well. A number of these have millions of installs as well.

Big Publishing Pays Facebook to Display Their Content

Of course, big publishing isn’t just posting links to their news articles on these platforms. They are also going so far as to doll out hundreds, if not, thousands of dollars to have platforms promote their content as well. This is on full display with various transparency reports happily offered up by Meta as well:

The question is, does this look like companies whose content is being published by the platforms without permission and profiting handsomely from it? Hardly. If anything, big media companies are begging anyone and everyone to share their content on these platforms, even dolling out the cash to have their content viewed and shared on platforms in the process. They’ll do anything and everything to make sure their content appears on these platforms.

Bill C-18 is About Linking and Mentioning of Publication Names

While we have completely destroyed the Big Lie 6 ways to Sunday already, we haven’t even gotten to the text of the bill itself. The text of Bill C-18 is quite clear that this goes far beyond the publication of whole articles on platforms. From the text of the bill:

Making available of news content

(2) For the purposes of this Act, news content is made available if

(a) the news content, or any portion of it, is reproduced; or

(b) access to the news content, or any portion of it, is facilitated by any means, including an index, aggregation or ranking of news content.

Put simply, if a snippet of a news article, a link, or even mentioning the publication is placed on a platform, then it is within the scope of Bill C-18. In other words, this is basically taking what is widely considered activities within the scope of fair dealing and tosses it straight out of the window. If an aggregator even mentions something like “Globe and Mail” (forget linking, snippets, or thumbnails), then such activity would then require payment. This is a far cry from simply “reposting their content” as the Big Lie would have you believe. It is also a big reason why people like myself refer to Bill C-18 as a “link tax”. It’s a government requirement to pay for linking – among other things.

Concluding Thoughts

Platforms like Facebook and Google do have a lot to answer for. They aren’t completely innocent of any wrongdoing in a wide variety of debates such as Google’s Project Bernanke or Facebook’s mishandling of privacy issues, platforms have rightly been on the receiving end of controversy in the past. The thing is, allowing for the sharing of news articles is not an area that deserves this kind of flack, let alone legislative response.

It is especially frustrating to see the media flat out lying to their readers like this. With right wing extremists constantly pushing the narratives that the media is lying to readers while peddling obvious misinformation such as misinformation about vaccines, climate change, or Putin’s war on Ukraine, big media is proving these dangerous psychopaths right when they pull stunts like this. The big Canadian media outlets can do themselves a favour and stop proving these wingnuts right and go back to publishing fact-based journalism.

Yes, one truthful and honest article about the situation is probably not going to change the minds of those pushing the big lie. What we can do is publish the truth as a disinfectant to these false narratives being pushed in the first place. The big media outlets actions is shameful and should be called out on it at every turn. Consider this article as doing our part.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

1 Comment

  • DB says:

    I think the news media has resorted to the Big Lie because it can’t accept that its importance has been greatly diminished, so the blame for its problems must come from tech companies “stealing” advertising revenue.

    To understand how the importance of the news media has fallen ask yourself this. How much information about COVID did you get from traditional news sources and how much from other sources. Then compare that to where you would have gotten information about COVID if it happened in the 1990s.

    For me, news sources provided less than 10% of the information I got on COVID. My main sources were websites like Health Canada, WHO, CDC, Regional Health Authorities, science blogs and social media posts from doctors and scientists. In the 90s, I would have been totally reliant on newspapers and TV news.

    The news medias’ importance has been decling for years and all Bill C18 will do is accelerate that decline.

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