Drew Wilson (and Many Others) Was Right: German Music Industry Calls for a German Version of Bill C-11

Other countries have begun exploring the possibility of having their own Bill C-11. The German music industry is already calling for it.

No matter how you slice it, Bill C-11 is a disaster. This has been known since the original text of the bill. Over the course of the last couple of years, there has been a very noticeable and distinct pattern in these debates. Supporters are often proven wrong on their assertions and opponents are proven right. It’s a story that has happened over and over again.

This pattern happened with the CRTC N-Word ruling scandal, the algorithm manipulation controversy, the walkback on the $1 billion claim, and, of course, the user generated content question (it does regulate user generated content).

Now, there was a prediction I made from the very beginning of this debate. I was actually not alone in this prediction either because I was in good company this time. That prediction is that other countries would be motivated to pass similar legislation. My personal angle is that if the Canadian government is telling platforms that they need to favour their handpicked content, other countries would want to start making similar demands for their own creators as well (whether that is hand-picked creators or all of their creators is, of course, up in the air).

This, of course, represents a massive problem. The Internet (or, at least, platforms) depends on a global audience to really get stars to shine. From a creators standpoint, you would rather draw from a global audience then a specific slice of an audience because you get the maximum potential audience if your content happens to be successful. You basically have the effect of a smaller tear in the Internet (some refer to it as “splinternet”). Best case scenario, creators would get more audience from their local countries, but lose the rest of the entire freaking planet. The trade-off is terrible. The more countries that go this direction, the more you break up that global audience.

Of course, like so many other predictions I personally make, it always ends up coming off as some weird hypothetical that is unlikely to happen. Then people act either all surprised or dismissive of the prediction as “a lucky guess” when it comes true. Naturally, I have a pretty ridiculous track record with these things, and I’m all too happy to keep adding on to that track record.

Today, I learned that the prediction of other countries wanting to pile on and have their own version of Bill C-11 came true. It turns out, the German major music industry is pushing to have similar laws applied in Germany. From Forbes:

How this moves into law in Canada and how it is implemented will be closely monitored by other governments.

Even if they do not currently have a radio quota, they will be looking at streaming services and considering if they are doing a good job in promoting local creators or if they are a new catalyst for cultural imperialism where a handful of powerful nations impose their culture on the rest of the world.

A recent discussion I had with the head of a large music company in Germany raised this very issue and they said that they would like to be able to call for a quota system on music streaming services to better promote German and German-language acts.

What happens in Canada, and how easy it is for streaming platforms to meet the legislative obligations, could have significant ripple effects for other markets that had previously never even considered a quota.

(Hat Tip: Scott Benzie who also accurately predicted this would happen)

From the creators perspective, this is easily worst case scenario starting to come true. The last thing they want to see is audience members slipping away and the Germany music industry pushing for similar laws represents a very real threat that this will happen in Germany as well.

What’s more, the fact that there is even suggestion that other governments that are watching this closely should signal just how bad things get should these laws move forward. From our perspective, platforms need to make this transition as painful and awful as possible. They know full well that such laws are going to have a hugely negative impact on their networks. What’s more, I think digital first creators, should this law pass, should at least hope for some short term pain. Maybe the platform simply refuses to promote the content at all or even outright blocks the country altogether because the laws are unworkable. It’s weird to think that creators should hope for short term pain, but if that doesn’t happen, then you’ll get the link tax fiasco all over again.

Additionally, end users should be extremely concerned because the precedence that Canada could set could very easily spread across other countries. They are going to see fewer choice, forced programming of content they don’t want, and the prospect that some of their favourite creators could go from being handsomely profitable, doing what they love doing, to shutting down because the audience has been completely killed. The end users, for the most part, obviously don’t want this to happen, but that is, unfortunately, the very real threat for them as well.

On a side note, though, the fact that it is Germany that seems to be the first out of the gate for contemplating these laws is a surprise to me. When I think countries with dumpster fire laws surrounding technology, France and Australia come to mind. France because of their obviously terrible HADOPI laws and LOPPSI 2 – both of which are trainwreck laws on every level. Australia because of their idiotic efforts to ban encryption and the completely insane link tax legislation. So, when I found out that there is a push in Germany, my thought was, “wow, Germany might be stupid enough to contemplate these laws?” So, yeah, a bit of a surprise to me.

Regardless of which country this comes from though, when I learned that there was even a hint of a push for these incredibly stupid laws in at least one other country, I could already visualize my efforts to be a video creator starting to circle the drain before it even gets a chance to get off the ground. It’s, quite frankly, a sickening feeling and it honestly changed my mood for the entire day for me. All of these long term plans, the thought processes of what feature to launch, when, and how it fits with the overall vision of building one of the coolest websites around, was all going to die on the vine. All because the governments are blocking my ability to succeed through blatantly unconstitutional and anti-competitive laws. I would imagine a lot of other creators out there would have similar thoughts when they learn that a second country is already possibly going down this suicidal road.

For the other countries out there, from my perspective, all I can do on my end is fight against this as hard as I can. I have been granted very little in the way of resources, but I’m going to fight like my life depended on it. In many ways, my digital life does depend on it. Unfortunately, I’m looking at the political landscape that is the current federal government and all I can say is: it’s not looking good. Best case scenario is that it gets smacked down in the courts thanks to litigation. There will be damage in all of this if it goes down this way, but trying to stop this train of corruption and greed is an extremely tall order.

I do want to apologize to the whole world on behalf of sane Canadian’s who see this legislation for what it is. If your government starts pushing for similar laws and says that they took inspiration from the Canadian model, then all I can say is: I’m sorry.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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